Task Cards are individual cards that offer students opportunities to engage with a particular topic in various forms. Each typically has a prompt or activity that students complete either individually or in pairs or small groups. There are usually different challenge levels as well. Task cards are particularly useful because they provide lots of opportunities for hands-on activities and movement in the classroom. They also lend themselves very easily to differentiation.
There are 6 categories of prompts in the verb form task card sets, prompts include:
- 1 Subject Pronoun, 4 Infinitives, student writes verb forms (cards 1-6)
- 1 Infinitive, 4 Subject Pronouns, student writes verb forms (cards 7-12)
- 4 Verb Forms, student writes infinitive (cards 13-18)
Subject Pronouns and Conjugated Verb, student completes sentence (cards 19-24)
- Sentence with Verb Missing, students chooses verb and writes form (cards 25-30)
- Infinitive, student writes complete sentence (cards 31-36)
These activities can be done in writing (response sheet included) or orally.
There are 5 categories of prompts in each vocabulary task card set. Prompts include:
- Picture with choice of 4 words (cards 1-12)
- Word with choice of 3 pictures (cards 13-18)
- Fill in missing letters (cards 19-24)
- 2 pictures, student writes words (cards 25-30)
- Picture, student writes a sentence with the word (cards 31-36)
For additional ideas on using these French Task Cards see my previous post on 10 Ways to Use Task Cards in the Foreign Language Classroom.
Are you looking for new and inventive ways to make vocabulary and verb form/tense practice more engaging, communicative and proficiency-based in your foreign language class. Have you seen task cards popping up all over the Internet? They are getting more popular because they are a very effective way of accomplishing our goals for students. Task cards are particularly useful because they provide lots of opportunities for hands-on activities and movement in the classroom.
Here are some examples of task cards for the foreign language classroom:
There many ways to use task cards in the language classroom. Here are a few of my go-to activities:
- Warm-Ups (Do Nows): When they enter the room, students choose 2 or 3 cards and complete the prompt.
- Fast Finishers: Students that finish another activity early can choose a few of the cards and complete the prompts.
- Exit Ticket: Just before the end of class hand out a task card to each student and they respond to the prompt and hand it to the teacher (who verifies the answer) as they leave the room.
- Station Activity: Divide the cards up into different areas (stations) around the room put students into groups. Give student or group a task card response sheet. When groups finish the cards at the station, groups rotate to a new station.
- Scoot: Place a task card on each desk. Each student gets a response sheet. Students answer the question on the task card and then “scoot” to the next desk until they have rotated all around the room. Set a timer to complete the prompt. You can also put several cards on each desk for students to complete. They can either complete them all in one round or rotate back to that desk to complete the additional cards.
- Differentiation: Assign students specific cards that respond to their current abilities with the material.
- Back to Back: Give a pair of students the same task card to answer. They sit or stand with their backs against each other. Students read and complete the prompt at the same time when the signal is given to begin. This works best when answers are written on mini white boards. The first to answer correctly gets a point. This can be done with two big teams with one team member coming up to compete against a member from the other team, or in small groups of 3, with two students competing and one judging.
- Traditional Board Games: Combine the task cards with traditional game boards and have students complete a task card to be able to move.
- Quiz Games: Play games like Jeopardy and use the task card as prompts and questions.
- Interactive Bulletin Board: Put task cards on a bulletin board or around the room. Assign individual students 8-10 numbers. If done during class students can circulate and write the answers on a response sheet. This can also be done as a homework assignment.
This is a typical writing and reading (Emerging Literacy) activity that I do with novice students (with the goal being to read and write at a novice mid sentence level*). In this particular version, my 3rd graders had learned lots of words for animals and we had recently begun learning the words for places in nature where they can be found.
The class could list about 20 animals (individual words-novice low*), and they are beginning to recognize how they are written. We started this class by listing the words on the board (animals and places in nature), then I gave them the verb “est” (is) and some prepositions to go along with the places (as phrases; “sur l’herbe” -on the grass). Students then put the structure together verbally in pairs to makes sentences (novice mid). We then moved on to writing the sentences and drawing a picture to show the meaning (novice mid*). Once done, I went around to each student and had then read the sentences, then I covered the sentences and had them describe the pictures orally.
*ACTFL Proficiency Scale
El Camino/Le Chemin is an engaging and interactive speaking activity that students can do in pairs or small groups. Very quick set-up with no prep needed. Just print out the two pages that make up the game board and students are ready to go. Students can do this activity in groups of 2 or 3. Each player needs a game piece to move around the board. They can use a bingo chip, a coin or any object of similar size. One die is also needed for the activity.
All players start at “Début” or “Comeinzo.” Taking turns, each player rolls the die and moves the number of spaces rolled. The object is to land on the numbered boxes in the correct order (1-12). They can move in any direction, but they can’t use the same box twice in a turn. They can share a box with another player. The winner is the first player to land on square #12. The game can be made longer by having players return to “Début” or “Comienzo”and work toward #12 a second time.
Each time a player rolls the die and moves closer to the next number, he/she must say the verb, number, time, category word, etc. of the square he/she lands on. They can also be required to say a complete sentences.
You can download these activities here:
This activity gives students a chance to express themselves confidently at their current proficiency level. It is easily adapted by simply prompting students as to how they should speak (text type).
Typically I have students work in pairs or in groups of 3. Begin by setting up a sheet with 12 categories on it that are number 1-12. Provide 2 dice along with this paper. Give each pair or group a small bag (not transparent) with small slips of colored paper along with a sheet that has a point value assigned to each color. For fun I also include a “Zut” or “Caramba” color which has no points assigned. You could also put slips of parer with point values in the bag, but I like to keep it more engaging and colorful. You can project the category sheet that the entire class can reference, but again I prefer to keep the activity centered in the group, so I provide an individual reference sheet. The plastic frames that can hold a sheet of paper have come in very handy for me with various activities.
Students begin by each individually rolling 1 or both dice and attend to the category of the number. If done correctly (group consensus), the student chooses a colored slip out of the bag and keeps a running total of points. He/She puts the slip back in the bag. After a predetermined amount of play time, the “winner” is the students with the highest points.
The teacher can easily adapt the speaking to the proficiency level of the students by using the tasks/functions and text types by ACTFL proficiency level. You can learn more about these asks/functions and text types on the ACTFL OPI website. Be sure to download the OPI Familiarization Manual.
If the students are at the novice level, they will give one word answers or short phrases, most likely giving an example of something in that category. If they are at the intermediate level they can speak using a series of sentences or be required to ask a question of another player about the topic. If students are at the advanced level they can speak at length in paragraph form. The categories at this level will need to be more complex in nature, perhaps pertaining to world events or characters and plot in a story.
The 100th day of school is a very important day in many elementary schools and there are lots of activities to celebrate, all based on the number 100. Each year, I challenge my 3rd graders to list 100 words and expressions that they know in the target language in 20 minutes. I give pairs of students a card with a category and they brainstorm words and expressions. It’s a great way for them to use category words in preparation for circumlocution.
We then write the list. I always hold off on using the words for numbers, unless they are needed to reach 100. We did not need to resort to them this year. It is all about the context. Rather than listing words for fruit, ask students to tell you which fruits are their favorite, or to describe the colors. Instead of asking for examples of verbs, have students tell you what they like to do on the weekends with their friends, and follow it up with when and where. Once they communicate in context the words and expressions keep coming.
It’s one thing for students to learn verb forms, it’s another for them to know the meaning and be able to actively use them in a sentence. To help with this, I created these verb tense (form) and sentence writing activities that are interactive. I use Powerpoint to keep the process moving and engaging.
The teachers begins each slide with a single click that produces a number written in words on the bottom of the screen. Students find the digit in the grid and write the subject and correct verb form based on the column and row of the digit.
A circle appears and begins to disappear (20 seconds for the first 20 slides) during which time students write the subject and correct verb form. They can write this on a sheet of paper or on mini-white boards. The board is covered with a “Fin” square after 20 seconds.
A second click reveals the digit and the subject and verb so that students can verify that they found the correct number and the correct subject and verb form.
After practicing this activity on the first 20 slides, students can then write complete sentences on the next 20 slides by writing the subject, correct verb form and an answer to the question word that accompanies the infinitive. The timer on these slides is set to 30 seconds to allow more time to write the sentences. Students can then read examples of the sentences that they wrote.
The teacher is free to use as many or as few of the subject/verb slides before moving on to the subject/verb/question slides.
You can download over 25 versions of these activities in French and Spanish by clicking the links.
- Present tense (regular, irregular, stem-change, accent-change verbs)
- Past Tenses (preterit, present perfect, passé composé)
- Present progressive
- Simple future
- Reflexive Verbs
The importance of teaching and learning vocabulary in context is spreading. Gone (hopefully) are the days of teaching words in isolation and out of context. We need to keep this in mind as well when students write. I am guilty of asking students to “write each vocabulary word in a sentence” when the sentences are in isolation and don’t follow any sort of logic or context.
When would anyone need to write like this? The answer is never, or only in a foreign language class. So, I needed to change my writing prompts to make sure that students are writing with a context. This tends to be a bit more manageable with students that have a higher proficiency, but I wanted to make sure that I was instilling the concept and skill of writing in context with my younger (lower proficiency) students early on so that this would become the norm as they gain in proficiency.
Here is an example of a writing assignment that I do with my elementary students to scaffold them into writing in context. It is a foldable that represents a house. They begin by “building” their house, which is simply folding a piece of paper in half, then folding in each side. Students then cut two lines on each flap and glue on a roof. Next, they write the names of rooms in the house (and the yard) on the flaps, which represent doors or windows.
Students then write six sentences stating what they like or don’t like to do in each room in the house. This gives them an opportunity to use all the verbs they have learned in context along with the rooms in the house. Once I go over the draft sentences with each student, they write the sentence inside the room.
Finally, students cut out a picture of the activity and glue that inside the room as well. This is a great way to reinforce the meaning of the words in the sentence without resorting to translation.
When finished, these can be used to have a conversation with students where they read the sentences of other students and respond to react to what they read.
Lots of possibilities with other concepts. I’m just getting starting. Please comment on other ideas.
Students are more motivated to write when the topic is of personal interest. I recently saw a colleague, Katya Hottenstein, working with a Spanish class on writing short poems. The poem was the classic Cinquian, but she took it a step further and the students created artistic representations of their poems. The topics were chosen by students and the artistic rendering was left up to the writer. Cinquain poems are typically written in one of these forms.
- Line 1: One word
- Line 2: Two words
- Line 3: Three words
- Line 4: Four words
- Line 5: One word
- Line 1: A noun
- Line 2: Two adjectives
- Line 3: Three -ing words
- Line 4: A phrase
- Line 5: Another word for the noun
- Line 1: Two syllables
- Line 2: Four syllables
- Line 3: Six syllables
- Line 4: Eight syllables
- Line 5: Two syllables
Here are some examples of the creative writing projects that the students created.
This fun and engaging speaking activity is a great opportunity for students to practice language structures. These activities focus on grammar points and are similar to the vocabulary activities in a previous post.
Students can do this activity in groups of 2 or 3. Each group needs a copy of the game board, one die, and 36 bingo chips.
Players take turns rolling the die twice. The first number is the vertical number and the second number is the horizontal number. The player locates the box at the intersection of the two numbers and says the correct form of the subject and verb in the box. For more of a challenge players can be required to use the verb form in a sentence. There are also possibilities for other grammar points such as adjectives, possessive and demonstrative adjectives.
If correct, the player scores the number of points in the box. Once a box is used the player covers the box with a bingo chip and that box can’t be used again. If a player rolls the die and the corresponding box is taken he/she forfeits the turn.
Play continues between players until all the squares are covered. The winner will be the player with the most points once the board is covered.
You can download complete version of these activities in French and Spanish on the topics listed below.
Spanish Language Structure Activities
French Language Structure Activities
- Regular Verbs
- Irregular Verbs
- Present Tense
- Past Tenses
- Future Tense
- Demonstrative Adjectives
- Possessive Adjectives