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).
As both a teacher and parent of teenagers, I have been watching a shift in learning happen right before my eyes. Twenty years ago, my students were still using books as their main source of learning. My technology was limited to supplementing lectures and book work with DVD’s and the occasional trip to the computer lab. My campus looks quite different today. Every student is issued a laptop. Most kids have a smart phone. And students are consuming most of their content from videos instead of books. So, it only makes sense to be incorporating TED Talks for teenagers into my curriculum as a way to deliver information to them in a way that they have grown accustomed to.
The popularity of TED Talks grew as new technology was developed for sharing videos of its presentations. In 2006, the first 6 TED Talks were posted online. And in just 3 months they were viewed over one million times. By 2009 TED Talks had over 100 million views. With the access to watching videos on phones and tablets TED Talks have become incredibly popular today.
Since the start of the COVID-19 I have increased my use of video in my classes. And TED Talks have become an amazing way to teach ideas and spark learning within my students.
Why Showing TED Talks for Teenagers Just Makes Sense
So, if kids are comfortable watching online videos, it only makes sense to use them a mode of education. GIF’s, YouTube clips, and TED Talks are all part of a typical online lecture in one of my distance learning classes.
TED Talks For Students
Distance learning has made me rethink how I teach my students and opened my eyes to new possibilities. As a physical education teacher, I’ve needed to redesign all of my lesson plans for the past year. Traditionally, my units would consist of live demonstrations followed by hands on learning. But with the need to teach through a webcam, I’ve had to get creative. I’ve replaced many of my team sport units with health and exercise physiology. And using online videos in my teaching has become a great way to help my students understand the material.
I’ve found several TED Talks that highlight the topics we are covering in class. From “Why Dieting Usually Doesn’t Work” by neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt to “Sleep Is Your Superpower” by sleep scientist Matt Walker, TED Talks have helped my students learn about the topics we are discussing in a format they are most comfortable learning through. If you are looking for TED Talks to bring into your classroom, here is a list of 35 “must watch” TED Talks for students.
TED Talks Worksheets For The Classroom
I’ve began creating interactive worksheets to go with the TED Talks I show in class. They are a great way to help keep my students focused on the key ideas of the TED Talk while still allowing them to enjoy what they are watching.
Grab A FREE sample of one my TED Talk worksheets. They come in both printable PDF and Digital Google Slides versions.
TED Talks can be used in class or as a homework assignment. And I have gotten a lot of good feedback from both teachers and students. We are well past the days where students would be told to write down 20 facts they learned from the video. My worksheets include a “before the talk” question, multiple questions to guide learning during the video, and a reflective question to help students reflect on how what they just learned can impact their lives.
While you are probably aware of the numerous benefits of yoga for kids, chances are you aren’t sure where to begin. The thought of incorporating yoga into your classroom can be intimidating. But don’t worry. Through this article I will simplify the process of introducing yoga in your classroom.
Before we begin, I need to address a major concern of teaching yoga in schools.
Despite the many benefits of yoga, it can also be met with some degree of skepticism. Critics of yoga often view it as a connection to Hinduism as a form of religious prayer. People often link yoga with Sanskcrit names for the yoga poses. They also imagine yoga as a lot of ritualistic chanting. The yoga I teach my kids couldn’t be further from this. And to distance the practice of yoga from any religious aspects, I highlight both the physical and mental benefits of yoga for my kids.
Yoga For Students
Yoga can be an awesome total body workout that can be done with with little to no equipment. A yoga workout will improve both strength and mobility while improving aerobic fitness as students move through the various poses. It can be done almost anywhere allowing teachers to use it both inside of their classroom as well as outdoor facilities at their school. Yoga can even be used through distance learning with the help of visual cues and streaming videos.
Teaching yoga to elementary students doesn’t have to be difficult. In as little as 6 minutes, you can gain the benefits of yoga in your classroom
Yoga is a great way to teach kids body awareness by strengthening the neuromuscular, or mind-body, connection. Yoga also can be linked to various district and state standards. For instance, the California physical education standards focus on students being able to demonstrate proficient movement patterns. This can be difficult considering students from kindergarten through high school are in a near constant state of growth and development. As students are getting taller their body is always having to relearn how to coordinate safe and efficient movement. Through yoga the can teach kids various dynamic movements and incorporate it into the active recovery process.
When working with younger kids, I like begin by connecting yoga to basic movement patterns. Chances are they have already done similar activities with other teachers which will bring a feeling of familiarity. I might not even call it yoga. Instead we will blend it into our daily movement activities.
With simple instructions, students can learn to move through various yoga poses.
From there we teach students about movement literacy through our yoga basics. It’s a great way to get them moving during the school day. And it can be expanded into a physical education lesson or used a short “brain break” during class.
Yoga For High School Students
Yoga is a fantastic way for high school students to build a sense of movement literacy. It’s also an individual activity where students get to take ownership of learning. I am constantly reminding my kids that yoga is a process. Each day we strive to get a little better than the day before. Before each lesson begins I get to remind them, “yoga is something you practice. It’s not something you perfect.” This way they know it’s about the journey and getting the most out of each class for themselves. Yoga can be very appealing to students because it not a competition. We do not keep score in yoga and classify winners and losers.
Most kids enter into my class having some knowledge of basic movements such as a plank or a lunge. Through yoga we can build up on their fitness level and allow them to gain mastery over the movements. These “yoga flows” can become an effective stand alone workout or part of a physical education unit.
Yoga Basics For Beginners
Regardless of how old your students are, there is going to be a range of ability levels for your students. In building my lessons for teaching yoga, I focus the activity around four foundational poses that we can build from: standing poses, twisting poses, plank poses, and balance poses.
For instance, a starting activity for students may be working on transitioning from a standing position to a high plank by walking their hands out through an inchworm movement. While this may seem overly simple, it can be very changing for students who have limited hamstring flexibility and core strength. As they are working on perfecting these movements and poses I can help guide them as to what they should be feeling through their muscles and joints.
The inchworm is a great starting movement for beginners to help them learn movement literacy and body awareness.
Beginning A Simple Yoga Routine
Simply having a copy of printable yoga movement cards is all some need to get started introducing yoga into their classroom. However, other teachers may want a more structured yoga curriculum to guide you. When I first got started I found several free resources online. However, most were not designed to be taught as part of a unit. They were Youtube videos that were more fitting for someone already comfortable with yoga. And I needed more direct instruction for my students.
Shorter days and dropping temperatures are signaling that winter vacation isn’t too far away. But do you have any idea as to how you are going to spend it this year? More often than not, I get so focused on work that I fail to stop and devote some time to what I’d like to do during our winter vacation.
Over time we have discovered several memorable winter vacation ideas. If you are trying to make plans, here are some fun winter vacation ideas worth considering.
So What Makes The Best Winter Vacation Ideas?
In my opinion, the best winter vacation ideas are the ones that I keep thinking about years later. For instance, about five years ago we drove up to a nearby mountain town and rented a cabin for a few days between Christmas and New Years. As luck would have it, the town had just received snow the day before our arrival turning the whole area into a winter wonderland. We also brought my step dad with us on this particular trip. Even though he passed away a year later, I’ll always hold on to the memories of him having snow ball fights with the kids outside of the cabin.
Making memories with grandpa George.
In addition to creating new memories, winter vacation is a perfect time to turn a new leaf. While we often associate New Years Day with the creating of resolutions, investing in yourself during the winter break will help you build momentum as you look to create new habits and routines.
Here are seven ideas for how you can make the most out of your upcoming winter vacation.
Winter Vacation Ideas for Couples
Before we started having kids, Danielle and I would set aside time for getaways where we could make each other the priority. We were both starting our teaching careers and during the semester our minds were always filled with what needed to get done for work. Planning. Grading. Spending hours trying to evaluate how we could improve our lessons for the following year. We were both taking graduate classes as well and I was coaching at this time. Life was busy.
Physically and mentally removing ourselves from our current routine was something we looked forward to. These didn’t have to be extravagant trips to different countries or continents (even though we have done a few of these too). Going up the coast to a bed and breakfast and visiting a few wineries created some fantastic memories that made the winter vacation feel special. Here are 12 vacation spots for couples to get you started on planning your adventure.
Mild winter temperatures make Palm Springs a great December travel spot.
Did Someone say “Road Trip”
Chances are there are some hidden gems for winter vacations within a couple of hours drive from where you live. This can cut down on travel expenses while also giving you more time to enjoy win your location if it means less time spent getting there. As crazy as it sounds, the road trip can be half the fun. Back in college a bunch of buddies and I would load up in a car and get out of town as often as we could. Jokes would be told. Bonds would be forged. And while the destinations were great, the memories we made along the journey would more often then not be the highlight of the trip.
Cold Weather Winter Vacation ideas
If it’s going to be cold during your winter vacation, why not embrace it. There are plenty of fantastic vacation spots where winter time is “prime” time. Outside of skying and snowboarding, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in the mountains during the winter. Enjoy a day of shopping in the local boutiques and restaurants. And drinking a hot chocolate or cider next to the fire place might be exactly what your soul is longing for. Beyond the towns connected to ski resorts, many of the National Parks can be even more majestic in the winter compared to the summer months. Here is a list of 10 National Parks to visit during the winter.
Make It A “Staycation”
Sometimes you just want to stay at home while on vacation. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a “staycation” instead of traveling. If you live in an urban area, sometimes it can be fun being a tourist in your hometown. We’ve stayed at a local downtown hotel for a few nights and made a trip (minus the traveling) out of it. It’s been fun going out to dinner and then just heading back to the room to wind down.
Maybe you don’t even want to leave the house. If that’s the case, a movie marathon is always a fun thing to do over a vacation. Star Wars, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games series are a few that we have watched with a bowl of popcorn and a blanket on the couch. Winter vacation might be the perfect time to watch that Netflix series everyone has been talking about and has been on your list.
Winter Vacation Bucket List Ideas
Winter vacation might be the perfect time to pick up a new hobby or start a project. Maybe you’ve wanted to play guitar, learn to crochet, or make your own sourdough bread from scratch. With the down time of vacation, you can learn a new skill and work on improving it over a few days or a week without having to squeeze it in around work and other commitments. If you have some big plans for the next year, there is no need to wait until January 1st to get started. You could begin working on your New Years Resolutions and get a head start.
Regardless. of what you chose to do, here’s to wishing you a memorable winter vacation.
Talk to you soon,
P.S. Before you go, here are a few other winter blog posts you may enjoy!!!
Creating photosynthesis lesson plans can be both frustrating and exhausting for teachers. Most students have come into my high school biology classes with very little background knowledge about plant structures and functions. In addition, photosynthesis can be difficult because this is one of the first times students are learning a biological process through a series of steps. Here are five tips that I hope you find useful when designing your photosynthesis lesson plans
Create photosynthsis lesson plans that front-load the vocabulary
Teaching biology can often feel like teaching a foreign language with so many new vocabulary words embedded into the curriculum. Students can find it intimidating trying to pronounce many of the photosynthesis vocabulary words, much less explain their meaning. A simple solution to this issue is to introduce the relevant photosynthesis vocabulary words at the start of the unit when developing your photosynthesis lesson plans. In my biology classes I would frequently give a photosynthesis vocabulary worksheet as a bell ringer activity on the first day of the unit. It allowed students to begin researching the meaning of the words before we even began discussing them in class.
Add Images To Your Photosynthesis Lesson Plans
Adding images to your photosynthesis lesson plans is a great way to help your students understand the content.
A picture can help tell a story. And using pictures when presenting the content is so helpful in your students connecting to your photosynthesis lesson plans. I try to imbed as many relevant images as possible in my photosynthesis lecture notes. This really helps students connect the key vocabulary terms to the process of photosynthesis. The reality is that the process of photosynthesis is occurring at the cellular level and students aren’t able to watch it occur. Images bring the process to life and boost student understanding.
Solidify Understanding With A Photosynthesis Activity
Photosynthesis task cards are a great way to check for understanding.
Unfortunately, I see too many teachers who go directly to a quizzes and tests without checking for understanding to determine if any of the material needs to be reviewed.. Photosynthesis task cards are a great way to check for understanding and can be used in several different ways. They can be used as a class walk-around, parter activity, and even as a review game to help figure out which topics students have learned and which still need further discussion.
Combine Photosynthesis And Cellular Respiration
Teaching photosynthesis and cellular respiration together under the umbrella of “cell energetics” has helped my students make connections between these topics. This is especially true when teaching the equations for photosynthesis and cell respiration. Personally, I like to teach ATP, followed by photosynthesis, and finally cover cell respiration. It has helped my students link the concepts and solidify the information. It is also a great time to review the chloroplast and mitochondria as key cell organelles.
Creating photosynthesis lesson plans that rock is all about making a difficult topic easy for students to understand. Hopefully these tips will help lower any frustration while making photosynthesis a topic you look forward to teaching every year.
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