Task Cards in the Spanish Classroom
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Task cards are an amazing way to learn and reinforce Spanish vocabulary! In fact, they are probably one of my favorite resources since they can be used in so many different ways.
What are task cards?
Before you can incorporate task cards into your teaching, you probably need to know what they are! 🙂 Basically, they are just what they sound like: cards with tasks on them. However, there is no “right” format; whatever works for you and your students is always best. Since I teach younger grades, I like making task cards with multiple choice answers. Additionally, they can feature simple questions that have specific answers or even open-ended questions such as “what did you eat for breakfast?” if you are learning food vocabulary. Moreover, for upper-level classes, task cards can even ask for a verb to be conjugated in a specific tense. Finally, so you can see what I am talking about, here are some examples of task cards with multiple choice responses:
So now that you know what task cards are, here are some ways you can use them!
Task Cards at the Beginning of Class
First, task cards are a great way to get kids engaged in learning from the moment they enter the classroom. So how can you use them? Here are a few ways:
- Have cards pre-cut (I like to have them laminated since kids love to bend, fold, crumble…you know ;)) and ready in a basket or bag. As kids enter the classroom, have them take 2-3 cards and write down the answers in their notebooks or on a piece of paper. Then go over the answers after a few minutes once all kids have entered and have had time to record responses.
- Give each student one task card at the beginning of class and have them solve the problem. Whichever student comes to you first with the correct answer gets to write their problem and solution on a large poster paper that is posted in the room. Later, perhaps as a review before a quiz or test, review everyone’s problems and solutions and make any revisions.
- Project a task card as students enter the classroom, and have students complete the warm-up in an interactive notebook.
Task Cards During Class
In addition, task cards are fabulous during class. In fact, there are TONS of ways they can be used. Here are some of my favorites:
First, task cards are a great station activity. Place the cards around the room at different “stations” (depending on how many kids you have and how big your room is, you can decide how many stations work best for you). Then divide the students into groups (I love using Class Dojo’s random grouping app for this but there are many ways to do this).
Next, give each student a task card response sheet. If the cards you are using do not have a specific response sheet, kids can certainly just write their answers in their notebooks or on a piece of paper. Then students rotate stations until they have completed all of the tasks. This can be as students complete tasks, or you can choose to allow a certain amount of time at each station (I like to display a timer on the board so students know how much time they have). This is a great way to manage time and keeps kids focused.
Walk and Write is a great way to get kids up and moving, and requires very little prep. Although similar to stations, this activity has you place individual cards all around the room rather than a group of cards at one of just a few set locations. Once you have your set of task cards printed and cut, hang them around the room. To begin, give students a response sheet or instruct them to use a piece of paper and number it 1 through whatever number of task cards you are using. Further, you may want to allow students to pick a certain number of cards to answer. For example, if your set has 35 cards, students need to pick 30 to respond to. This gives kids a bit of choice, and the ability to skip ones they really do not know.
When ready, students should walk around and complete the tasks on the cards by writing the answers on their response sheet. Since you know your students, it’s up to you to decide whether they work individually or in pairs. If you think your kiddos can handle it, it is great to see them collaborating and working together! Once everyone is done (or if the activity needs to be stopped due to time limits), display the answer key on the board and have students quickly check their answers. This is a great way to see how students are progressing with whatever unit you are working on and to see which areas need more practice.
Another great way to use task cards is as an activity for students who finish assignments and need something to do. While they might love some free time, time spent practicing Spanish is obviously time better spent. 🙂 Therefore, have them grab a task card set and work through some of the tasks. When finished, students can turn in the work for extra credit (which is very popular with older students)!
Back to Back: Give a pair of students the same task card to answer. They sit or stand with their backs against each other. Students read and complete the prompt at the same time when the signal is given to begin. This works best when answers are written on mini-whiteboards. The first student to give the right answer gets a point. This can be done with two big teams with one team member coming up to compete against a member from the other team, or in small groups of 3, with two students competing and one judging.
Quiz, Quiz, Trade: I love this activity because it gets kids up and moving. Even better, you can also use it to review pretty much any topic. Here is how to play:
- Select a set of task cards for the activity. Task cards with multiple choice or simple short answers will work best. Write the answer for each card in small print on the back (possibly in a lower corner). You can use dry-erase pens if you do not want to keep the answers there (if your cards are laminated this is the best way to do this).
- Give each student a task card, then assign each student a partner.
- Partner 1 asks Partner 2 the question on his or her card. Then partner 2 answers (or admits he or she doesn’t know). Partner 1 acknowledges the correct answer or provides the answer if Partner 2 does not know it or is incorrect.
- The process then reverses with Partner 2 asking the questions.
- After both questions have been asked, the partners switch cards, find new partners, and the process begins again.
Undoubtedly, most kids will tell you that their favorite thing to do in Spanish class is to play games. Well, task cards are perfect for this!
First, kids of all ages (even the older kids) love the game “Scoot“. In order to play, place a task card on each desk. Students answer the question on the task card and then quickly “scoot” to the next desk until they have rotated all around the room. Another option is to play music when it is time to move. Students need to be in the next seat when the music stops. This shouldn’t take more than a couple of seconds. Then repeat until kids make it back to their original seats! However, an alternative if you do not want students rotating desks is to just have the cards rotate instead.
In addition, why not use a game that kids already love to practice Spanish? Take a regular Jenga® game and number the blocks with a Sharpie. Students take turns drawing blocks, then another student in the group finds the correct card (by the number) and reads it to the first student to answer.
Also, you can use almost any simple board game such as Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Connect Four®, etc. with task cards! Just instruct kids to play as they usually would, except that they must answer the task card correctly before taking a turn. If a student gives an incorrect answer, then they lose that turn.
Next, try a relay race to get kids up, moving, and working together!
- First, clear the area around the board. Then put a piece of masking tape on the floor parallel to the whiteboard and about 10 feet away. Make sure there is room behind the line for students to stand behind; this is where teams will line up to compete.
- Then choose 6-7 cards for each team. The number of teams depends on how big your whiteboard is and how many students are in your class. If possible, try to keep teams to no more than seven or eight students to allow for more turns per kid. Also, try to divide the cards up so each team gets a variety of tasks (so one team doesn’t have all fill in the blank, another has all multiple choice, etc.).
- Next, divide your board into however many sections as you have teams. Then hang the cards vertically (I like using magnetic tape, but regular magnets work fine too).
- Then divide students into teams and have them line up in a single file line behind the line on the floor in front of the cards, one team per section. Give the first person in each line a dry erase marker.
- When you have the teams all set, tell students that they are going to be working together to complete all their task cards. Whoever is at the front of the line is whose turn it is. During their turn, they can go up to the board and do one of two things: 1. Do any task card that has not been done yet. OR 2. Make ONE correction to an answer already on the board. Also, make sure to stress that they can only make one correction, or stronger students might make all corrections at once. Finally, tell students that when they are at the whiteboard, they cannot get help from people in line. Teams may discuss what is on the board when they are waiting in line and try to figure out where the errors are, but they may not shout out answers.
- Finally, during the game keep an eye on the whiteboard and as soon as a team gets all of the cards correct, you can mark their section with a star so they know to stop. Teams need to continue going until they get their star.
You may want to model the activity with two volunteers first, and then make sure that students know the rules. Specifically, depending on your students, you may want to establish rules such as no running, no refusing to partner with someone and to treat partners with courtesy.
When you feel like you have played long enough (five to 10 minutes is usually good), collect the cards and go over them together.
Do you have another favorite game or activity you love to use task cards for? If so, I’d love to hear about it in a comment!!
Task Cards at the End of Class
Finally, task cards can make a quick and easy exit ticket. First, give each student a sticky note. Project a task card to the board using your document camera and tell students to write the answer on their sticky note. Then tell students to give you their sticky note on the way out the door (no need for names). This is a great formative assessment to gauge understanding!
Variation: hand each student a task card at the end of class and have them respond to it orally as they leave the room.
Thanks to Profe Plotts for some of these amazing ideas. You can check out more of her task card ideas (and see links to tons of her awesome cards) here.
If you are looking for printable, no-prep task cards, please check out some of these from my TpT store:
- 68 Spanish Task Cards School and Days of the Week
- Así Se Dice Spanish Task Cards | Chapter 1 Cómo Somos
- 66 Spanish Task Cards | Así Se Dice 1, Chapter 2, la Casa y la familia
- Spanish Numbers 0 to 20 Task Cards | NO PREP
You may also like this post about using a Behavior Clip Chart with a Soccer theme in your Spanish classroom!