Math Problem Solving Task Cards are one of the most productive tools for helping students build a deeper understanding of math concepts. These unique task cards include a variety of word problems that require students to utilize problem solving skills, critical thinking, precise modeling, and get routine practice with explaining their reasoning. Each day during Math Workshop, students are given time to work on these rigorous task so they can connect the math skills they are learning to real world situations.
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To make the most of this tool, and rapidly build your students’ problem solving skills, it is essential that students are given time to engage with these tasks on a routine basis. This post includes a break down of the math task card routines and expectations I have used for years in my second and third grade classes, which can be adapted and used in your elementary classroom this coming week.
When Do Students Work On Task Cards?
During the At Your Seat rotation of Math Workshop each day, students are given time to work on their task cards. First, students complete a short exit slip-style assignment that directly aligns to the mini lesson taught that day. In my classroom, this assignment has always come directly from our district-adopted curriculum. That assignment is completed, checked, and placed in the homework folder (the backside of this sheet is nightly homework due the following day).
Then, students move on to their task card work. On average, students spend about ten minutes working on task cards each day before it is time to move on to the second rotation of Math Workshop.
How Do Students Select Their Task Card?
Making Meaning Tasks require students to apply grade-level math concepts to solve complex word problems. Challenge Tasks are designed to provide enrichment opportunities to students who have mastered the math concepts introduced. Each Challenge Task requires critical thinking and the ability to apply known skills to solve more advanced and complex situations.
Individual students make their own decision as to which type of task they wish to complete. Two copies of each task are printed, laminated, and placed in the pockets on our task card board. This allows more than one student to work on the same task simultaneously.
What Do Students Do Once They’ve Selected A Task Card?
After a task card is selected, a student also picks up a blank problem solving recording sheet, and heads back to his desk to begin solving. The problem solving process used to solve each task is outlined on the side of the recording sheet, which serves as a checklist for students.
If a student runs out of time and needs to prepare for their next Math Workshop rotation, or needs to tidy up because Math Workshop has ended, they tuck the task card back into its pocket on the task card board, and place their recording sheet in their math binder to continue the following day.
If a student completes a task card, she submits it to our rubric drawers (described in detail below), then heads back to the board to select another task card and recording sheet.
Are Students Required To Solve Task Cards Independently?
For the most part, students complete task cards independently during the At Your Seat rotation of Math Workshop. They do have the option of working with a partner to solve a task card (each partner must submit their own recording sheet), or to ask members of their Math Triad for help as needed.
Challenge tasks are also an excellent tool for small group instruction with advanced learners. In this case, I recommend starting with a math talk-style conversation, then moving on to have each member of the small group record their model and explanation on a recording sheet.
How Many Problem Solving Task Cards Do Students Complete Each Week?
Due to the fact that these tasks cards require a great deal of modeling, labeling, and a written explanation of math reasoning, students usually complete one task card every two days, and two task cards every week.
Once students complete a task, they will walk over to our rubric drawers, reflect on their level of understanding for that task, and place their recording sheet in the drawer that corresponds with that level of understanding. Any task submitted to these drawers can be quickly checked and stamped to be sent home. Each week, students get to select one of their tasks to submit to the bin sitting on top of the rubric drawer tower. This task will be closely checked by me, scored, entered in the gradebook, and given written feedback before bring sent home.
When a task card is submitted to the rubric drawers for feedback, students draw a star next to their name on our Weekly Task Card Record poster using a Vis-A-Vis pen. This allows me to quickly check who is on track to meet their weekly goal, and who needs to work on task cards as an early finisher option after bellwork or word work. This poster is wiped clean at the beginning of each week for a fresh record-keeping start.
If a student needs a custom task card goal that is modified to meet their unique learning strengths or needs, I let them know one-on-one what their weekly goal will be.
How Are Task Cards Scored?
Scoring task cards daily is highly recommended because the process will be quick, and you can share your feedback with students in a very timely manner. In a general education classroom the reality is you may only have time to score tasks weekly, and share your feedback with students on a set day each week…nothing wrong with that!
To save your grading sanity, I recommend spending time completing in-depth scoring for one task card per student per week. Having a special bin where students submit the task they are most proud of (as described above) can help you organize this system. You may even want to have students use this rubric and reflection freebie to score their own work in depth, and provide a consistent feedback format. Taking an extra minute to enter this weekly score as a formative assessment data point makes this process even more worthwhile.
For the other tasks students have self-scored using the rubric drawers, do a quick glance for accuracy, stamp, and file. The only exception is if students score themselves at a level of understanding of 1 or 2 using the rubric drawers. You may want to pull those tasks aside, and use them for small group instruction during the Meet the Teacher rotation.
CORE INSPIRATION TASK CARD FREEBIES
Applying These Routines In Your Classroom
If you are ready to boost your students’ ability to solve word problems, and deepen their math understanding, here are all the task card-related supplies I use in my classroom to help you get started. I have listed these supplies in order from most essential to least essential to help you get started.
- Problem Solving Task Cards
- Problem Solving Recording Sheets
- Problem Solving Reflection and Feedback Freebie (submit form above)
- Task Card Board Labels Freebie (submit form above)
- Weekly Task Card Tracker Freebie (submit linked above)
- Cardstock for task card pockets
- Feedback bin
- Rubric drawer bins
- Rubric drawer towers
I’d love to hear about your experience with introducing these routines in your classroom, and any questions you may have in the comments below.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT MATH WORKSHOP?
For more details about Math Workshop, check out my other posts about this instructional approach.
HOW TO INTRODUCE MATH WORKSHOP IN YOUR CLASSROOM:
DETAILS ABOUT M.A.T.H. ROTATIONS:
- Overview: Differentiate Instruction with Math Workshop
- Warm Up: Number of the Day Binder
- Mini Lesson: 3 Approaches To Formatting Lessons for Math Workshop
- Meet with the Teacher: How To Organize Small Groups for Math Workshop
- Meet with the Teacher: 5 Steps To Efficient Data Tracking
- At Your Seat: Top 5 Ideas for Math Workshop At Your Seat
- At Your Seat: Boost Problem Solving Skills
- Hands On: Tips for Making Math Games A Success
MATH WORKSHOP CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT TIPS:
- How To Boost Student Independence With Math Triads
- Incorporating Project Based Learning Into Math Workshop
- How To Make Transitions Efficient During Math Workshop
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