Note: the original post was published in October 2018. Two months later we have version 2.0 with lessons learned and some refinements. The revisions are added in italics. We will keep updating this post through the year.
Copies of all task cards are linked as pdf files at the end of the post.
This idea was shared with me by my awesome co-teacher Yuka Kominato (@yyteach) who in turn found it shared on Twitter by @Miss_Wheatley. Thank you to both … and another affirmation as to why Twitter is a great resource for educators to grow their PLC and gather fresh ideas. In our classroom it works something like this …
- Print task cards on 1/2 a sheet of paper each and put some card-stock behind them for extra oomph. The task cards aligned to our writing rubric and the language standards taught. For ease of reference, we color coded the task cards green for editing and blue for revising. As this set of task cards was made for our first writing unit based on personal narratives, the revising cards were all about stretching out the small moment and adding details. The editing cards were all about spelling/punctuation/capitalization. Upon reflection … print each card on a 1/2 sheet, print a set of grid lines (for signing) on the back. Laminate. Print an extra copy to use as a conferring aid.
- Display the task cards in the classroom. We used a pocket chart but the cards were too big and kept flopping over. Reflecting on what would work better … perhaps just a tray that the cards are kept in, or a hole punch/string loop to hang on the wall which is what we are currently using.
- Model how to use the cards. We did this as part of an explicit revising/editing lesson. The goal is for students to walk up to the revising/editing station, pick a card, go back to their desk, then check their writing against the task card (say for proper capitalization perhaps) – all this in an effort to avoid students coming up to the teacher saying “I’m done” only for the teacher to then urge them back by saying something along the lines of “Check x, y, z.”
- Hold students accountable for using the Task Cards. We did this by having a post-it note on the back and asking students to “sign” their name on the back when they used a card. The post-it got a little messy and hard to handle, hence the laminating idea and then just “signing” by writing their name on the back with a white-board marker that can be erased. Basically anything goes so long as you know the students are actually using the task cards, and the students know you value the process enough to hold them accountable for it. Two months in and we are super happy with how students are independently using the task cards, remembering to “sign” them when used, and returning them when done. Laminating (while not super eco friendly) in this case is a great idea. When the slots are full it is easy to wipe the card clean and start over.
At the end of the personal narratives writing unit Yuka and I analyzed the students’ writing and were very pleased with how much more success we had with students independently applying the writing conventions (especially punctuation and capitalization) than in years’ past. In fact, our goal for this year is to keep making task cards for all our writing units to see whether we can lift the level of revising/editing independence and consequently create stronger more independent writers. Stay tuned! Now at the end of our poetry unit and we only have good things to say about using task cards.
PDF versions of the various units we have completed so far linked below: