7 Ways To Us Task Cards In Your Biology Class
Have you thought about adding task cards to your biology classroom, but aren’t sure where to start? Maybe you have used task cards with a few topics but are looking to expand on how you can use them with your students. Either way, I’ve got you covered.
What are task cards?
When explaining task cards to my friends who aren’t in education, I like to explain that they are modified flash cards. Growing up, we would make flash cards in school to review key terms, people, and dates as part of our test review. And while task cards can still help with these items, they have been taken to the next level.
They are generally created as a ¼ page card that has a specific question on it along with a picture or graphic. Students may be asked a simple identify question or they may be asked to go into greater detail based on the “task” listed on each card.
Ways to use task cards in biology class
Task Cards Use At Lab Stations-
Task cards can be placed on tables around the classroom as a lab activity. In college I took several classes where the professor would have different specimens on tables with a question about each or a microscope slide in focus that had a question that would need to be answered. The cards can substitute for this type of lab where the materials needed, or prep work might prevent a teacher from being able to set up the lab.
Warm Ups/Bell Ringers-
My task cards come in both printable and digital formats which make them very versatile in class. And often I will take 4 or 5 cards from a unit and use them to bridge lectures and get students thinking about what we covered in a previous class. This can often become a game for students gets them interested in class.
They can easily be turned into a test review game such as jeopardy, bingo, or family feud. From my 20+ years teaching high school, kids learn the most when they are excited about learning. And while a review worksheet may get the job done, I’m still waiting to find a kid who looks forward to worksheets. Review games let the kids talk, interact, and have fun will preparing for a test.
Small Group Review-
As teachers we have all have an extra 5-10 minutes at the end of class that we didn’t want to waste. Task cards have become a solution for this by giving my students a set of task cards and letting them quiz their friends in small groups. This type of activity could include an exit ticket but doesn’t have to. Either way, kids are engaged bell-to-bell and getting a deeper understanding of what is being covered in class. Check out my blog on photosynthesis lessons for how I have used them to help students prepare for exams.
I have always added short review questions into my PowerPoint lecture notes to check for understanding. With task cards, you can go beyond just a quick true/false or multiple-choice question. Also, the pictures and images are the same as in my lecture notes (and on my exams) allowing students to make connections to deepen understanding. Adding a few these into lecture notes can go a long way!
Task Cards And Distance Learning-
Since they also come in a digital format through Google Slides, I have added them to assignments through my Google Classroom. This is perfect for distance learning when students need an independent assignment as an alternative to a lab when they are absent from class or as a review assignment that they can access outside of class.
Task cards make a great interactive notebook assignment for students to cut out, write the answer to the task on the reverse side of the card, and then to glue in as a flip style assignment. Students will definitely retain more content when they search for the answer, write it down, and then use it as a notebook review before their exam.
With so many uses for task cards, they can become a valuable tool for helping your students understand the curriculum. If you haven’t used them before, be sure to check them out for your next unit (or save and get them all at a special discount).
Task Card Resources: