Task cards are a great tool to support English Language Learners. There are many leveled sets available, making it easy to differentiate. There are cards with short reading passages, grammar practice, writing prompts, speaking questions, and more. Take a look at these five ideas for using task cards with your ELLs that will keep them engaged throughout the lesson.
1. Play a Game
Kids love playing games. You can keep the game simple and print out a basic game board. You can also use this as a way to introduce students to traditional board games. Some ELLs may not have played the same board games as their classmates. This can be an opportunity for them to learn a new game and practice the skill on the task cards that they are using. Simply have each student choose a task card to answer before taking their turn at the game.
2. Whole Group/Class Answers
Having the entire group or class take a turn answering a question is a great way to introduce a new set of task cards. This also builds in support for students with a lower language level. You can strategically have them answer after others have gone so that they have peer models to assist them in formulating their answer. This also gives students additional time to think of an answer. I suggest having a way for students to pass if they are not able to come up with an answer. This will lower a students anxiety if they are not able to come up with an answer. If there is a student that is often not able to answer a question consider previewing it with them beforehand when possible.
3. Place the Task Cards Around the Room
When you spread out the task cards around the room, students get up and move as they answer the questions. Each student, or group of students can take a recording sheet and see how many of the cards they can answer. Movement is shown to help with the retention of information.
4. Build in More Speaking
There are some task cards already designed for speaking tasks. You can turn any task card into a conversation starter. For reading cards have one partner explain how they decided on the answer and what part of the text helped them. The other partner can tell if they agree or if they disagree tell why. For writing task cards have students answer the writing prompt with a partner or in a small group. The partners can then talk about what details they will include in their writing.
5. Have Students Create Their Own Task Cards
After students have practiced with a set of task cards, students can create their own. This works particularly well with cards that ask a question or writing prompts. Students need to synthesize information they have learned in order to create new questions. For ELLs, it is helpful for you to show them the structure of the question and then create a few new questions as a group.
A simple set of cards to use are those that ask a question. Use the sentence frame:
Would you rather __________ or _____________.
Benefits of Task Cards
After reading about how to engage your ELLs with task cards you might be wondering if there are additional benefits to using task cards in the classroom? Read about 5 Benefits of Using Task Cards with ELLs to learn more.
Learn about two great sets of task cards