Task Cards: 3 Reasons They’re Ruining Your Instruction


So if you have known me for a while, you know that task cards have never been my thing.  I never really liked using them when I was in the classroom, even though I had them prepped and ready.  I just never understood the hype.  Now that I’m more experienced in my career and understand more about instructional best practices, I know now why my gut was telling me to stay away.  These cards are generally not good for the classroom and they can actually hurt your instruction!  Come read about how and how you can fix it!

So just to clarify and make sure we’re all on the same page, task cards are small pieces of paper and on each is a problem or a question that the students need to answer.  Think about a worksheet cut up with one question on each piece of the paper.  Most teacher use recording sheets to allow students to record their answers in one spot and to turn in later for accountability or a grade.

I also want to preface this by saying, if you DO use task cards in your classroom – this in no way, shape, or form makes you a bad teacher!  We all have our preferences on what we like and don’t like to do in our classroom.  Today, I’m simply sharing my thoughts and opinions in hopes to give everyone a second perspective to think about.  If you agree with me, great!  If not, it’s perfectly fine!  I’m not mad, promise 😉

Ok, so let’s jump in.  How are these cards potentially ruining your instruction?  Here we go!

Reason #1: Absolutely NO Differentiation

Differentiation is and should be at the forefront of all decisions made in the classroom.  We have 25+ unique students to care for and educate.  When we create our lesson plans, we should be thinking about how all of our students learn best, what their needs are, and how we can best fill each students’ gaps the best way possible.  This shouldn’t stop when we have centers/rotations.  If anything, THIS time of the day should be when we push for even more differentiation for our students.  Giving each student what they need to be successful.

So when you prep a set of 30 task cards, all around the concept of Main Idea, because that’s what you taught last week and you want to review it (perfectly reasonable) – is putting the same 30 task cards in front of every single student fair?  Your lower students  struggle and your students who have mastered the skill are bored.  So now you have to find three different sets of task cards, ones for the lower students, ones for on level students, and ones for your higher students.

Do you want to cut out 90 different task cards?  Didn’t think so!

Let’s make sure what we’re putting in front of our students during center time is meaningful and productive.  Task cards just don’t fit that bill!

Reason #2:  Absolutely NO Data

Ok yes, I know that if you use the recording sheets when you have your students do task cards that technically you DO have access to data.  But if you have 25 students and each student filled out a recording sheet with 30 boxes, that’s 750 BOXES you now have to check and grade.  Do you have time for that?  And here’s another question..  What DATA are you actually getting from them?  You now know who does and doesn’t understand Main Idea (or insert topic you have on your task cards)..

But that’s something you should have known prior to putting out the task cards, right?

task cards So in the end, what significant data are you really getting from task cards?  And if you can’t think of an answer, what are task cards then just busy work?  Again, I’m just trying to open our eyes to something that maybe we didn’t think about before!  I’m not saying you have to have ‘data’ on every single thing your students do during rotations – they need time to read without interruption and do other things.

But when it comes to practicing important skills, I’m sure every teacher would agree that having actual usable data would be beneficial.  These don’t really give us that.

Reason #3:  Take Too Long

Listen to this scenario..  I’m an above average student who is asked to complete 30 cards about text structures.  This takes me the entire center time one day (20 minutes) but the entire center time on another day.  That’s 40 minutes of time this takes me to complete a center that I most likely didn’t even need in the first place.

Here’s another scenario.  I’m a below level student who is asked to complete 30 cards about text structure.  In the first center time, I only get 6 of the task cards done because they are too hard for me, I struggle, and I can’t focus.  I’m unmotivated and upset because everyone else is getting done faster and I want to do something else.  So because of this, it takes me all week to finish the cards.

A student’s time is extremely valuable to them, as it should be.  They should be spending their time learning what they need to learn.  Completing 30 task cards because that’s what the teacher put out at the center doesn’t really fit that mold.  It’s too ‘one size fits all’.


So I talk some big talk about task cards and how much I think they are worthless in the classroom.  Especially for someone who SELLS task cards in my own Teachers Pay Teachers store..  Yes, I said that right.  I have grammar, reading, and math task cards that I sell.  But friends, these aren’t regular task cards.  I have taken all of the ‘Cons’ about typical task main idea task cardscards and turned them into Pros!

How?  By completely revolutionizing task cards for students AND for teachers!

These are self-differentiating, meaning students only work on the task cards THEY need and at the level THEY need.  There’s NO more grading for teachers.  Instead, teachers use the recording sheets in a unique way and count the number of task cards students answered to understand what level they are at.

Also, Teachers have immediate data from the recording sheet (still without grading).  Based on the frequency of cards a student answers in a row, that tells the teacher specifically what aspect of the skill/concept that student needs help on.

When I say these ‘task cards’ have revolutionized centers for teachers – I mean it.  But don’t take my word for it – try them out yourself for FREE!  I have my Main Idea set below for YOU to try out!  Love them?  Come and grab some more!  Don’t like them?  No worries, you do you!  Just grab them below and I will send them straight to your inbox!


So whether I’ve convinced you or not, I hope I made you think! 😉  Feel free to pin the image below to save this article for later!

task cards


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I’m a wife, a mommy of 3, blogger, and a full time teacher author and presenter. I love to read, shop, and spend time with my family! My hands are always busy, but my heart is so full!

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