Differentiation seems hard, but it doesn’t have to be. One fast and easy way to differentiate for your whole class is by using task cards. This guide on how to use task cards and differentiate using task cards is designed to help you differentiate for whole group, small group and independent work time.
There are a few ways to use task cards with your whole class. While students are working through task card sets, some ways to differentiate include:
- Different Groupings: If your class is all working on task cards at the same time, consider how they are working. If they are expected to work independently, consider allowing students who are struggling to pair up with a more confident student or in a group with the teacher.
- Different Sets: Another quick way to differentiate can include having multiple sets of task cards for students to be working on. I like this the most when doing a scavenger hunt because it is the least obvious that students are working on different problems.
- Consider having 2-3 sets hidden. You can differentiate by the style of the task cards, or if they look too similar, consider copying them on different colored paper.
- Different Amount of Problems: Differentiate quickly by telling students how many problems you feel that it is appropriate for them to solve in a certain amount of time, or by allowing students to self monitor what feels appropriate. If your whole class works on task cards for 20 minutes and you feel as though everyone was working diligently the whole time, do not penalize students who were unable to complete the work.
I love using task cards during small group because it is SO easy to differentiate and it also prevents wandering eyes at my back table, as everyone is typically working on a different problem.
Students can either be working on the same skill or different skills during this time. If it is the same skill, you can differentiate the number of problems a student solves or the amount of support they might need to solve the problem.
But what I love most is that if students in a small group need extra practice on different skills, task cards are a GREAT way to do that. I simply start or end my small group with What I Need Time and give students a task card set that supports the skill they need extra practice with. I do this until they have achieved mastery, and am then able to move them to the next skill. It is important to use progress monitoring data to monitor these skills and make sure students are advancing throughout the year.
Similar to the what I need time mentioned above, using task cards during independent work time is a great way to get students to practice a variety of skills. This independent work can be done as a must do activity, a choice activity, a center, early finisher work or at other points throughout the day.
Students can all pull from similar sets, or can pull what they specifically need to work on. There are a lot of different ideas for recording this work and how it can be assessed or evaluated.
Another way to easily differentiate using task cards is by providing a challenge problem for students to solve each day. This is a great way to differentiate for students who need to be pushed to the next level while also allowing opportunity for all students to access that higher level of thinking. Typically, I put up one problem a day, then quickly go over different methods to solve it at the end of my lesson with the whole class.
It is always important that you find a groove that works for your teaching style and your students’ learning styles. What works in one classroom or for you one year, might not work in another classroom or even the same classroom the following year.
Grab some second grade task cards below:
- Basic Addition Task Cards (fact families, missing addends, true/false)
- Place Value Task Cards
- Addition and Subtraction to 1000 Task Cards
Or… go digital!
What strategies have you used before to differentiate using math task cards in your classroom? Drop them in the comments below and let us know how it is going!