Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Differentiating and Scaffolding Instruction with Task Cards

We are working on Multiplying Fractions right now (click the link to check out my blog post with teaching ideas at my teaching blog!), and I created a set of Multiplying Fractions Task Cards to use with my kids and for my 4th and 5th grade teachers to use with their students.

I try really, really hard to make task cards that lend themselves to easy differentiation and scaffolding, and after seeing my students work with these, I think they meet that goal and provide a great example of the possibilities of task cards.  There were a few things I needed to include in these task cards: multiplying fractions by whole numbers with and without models, and multiplying fractions by fractions with and without models.  Oh, and CCSS say that they need to be able to do these things with word problems, too!  So as I set out to make these task cards, I knew that there would need to be some scaffolding.

The set starts out with multiplying fractions by whole numbers (a 4th grade standard).  It starts with visual models, then moves to no visual model, then on to word problems.  Super easy scaffolding, and for kids who don't need the visual models, they can skip those cards.  For kids not ready for the word problems, they can skip those.

A look at the cards for multiplying for whole numbers where you can see the progression of skills.

The set then moves on to multiplying fractions by fractions.  It starts out with visual area models, then moves to visual area models that aren't fully complete, then moves to other visual models, then to straight number problems, some fill in the blanks for critical thinking, and finally word problems.  There are generally 4-8 of each type of card so that teachers can pick which ones they want their students to do--there is NO rule that says all students must do ALL cards!

Take a look at the progression of task cards here...

While I see value in repeated practice of the same type of problem, I have also seen the immense benefit of these scaffolded and differentiated task cards.  The kids are able to see different types of problems in different ways and work through their understanding of it, often individually.  And this isn't only for math--almost all of my task cards are differentiated or scaffolded in some way.

I hope this gets the wheels spinning about how you use task cards in your room.  If you want to buy these Multiplying Fractions Task Cards, you can buy them at my TpT store HERE. :)


  1. Love these! I put them on my wish list for next year's kiddos. Every year I have a few kids who need that extension into fifth grade territory (or beyond), so this will be perfect.

    Thanks for pointing out that there's no rule that all kids have to do all task cards in a set! That is so true. I have kids who would cry from boredom if I made them do all of them, and others who would cry from frustration.

    You are an inspiration for my classroom! Thanks for sharing! (P.S. I love that you use photographs of the actual cards - Pins of your products stand out so easily, that I know they're yours!)

    Love. Learn. Teach.

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