Home > Uncategorized > Note Cards are Magic

Note Cards are Magic

I always keep a stack of notecards on hand.  I was so happy when Staples had the penny notecards deal this summer.  Yes, I stocked up on notecards.  I use them at least twice a week in class.  It is amazing to me that I can get students to do work that is on a notecard, but if I make a worksheet, no chance.  When most of my students see a worksheet full of practice problems, they shut down.  If I hand them one problem on a notecard and put time restrictions on them, they work.  Magic!

I started using notecards with Kate Nowak’s Speed Dating activities.  Instead of printing out cards or writing problems, I would make one worksheet and cut the problems out and tape one problem per notecard.  Easy and effective.  My students ask to speed date at least once a week.

I have gotten a little more creative with my notecards.  I now will color code them and put different level of problems on different cards or different topics.  I will then take a ‘deck’ of 52 note cards and throw them all over the floor.  We call this 52 pick up (I know, not original).  Each student is required to find and work 2 problems of each color.  This way each student is working 2 problems at each level.  If I have students in a class with different abilities, I will put them in groups based upon ability and say, “Group 1 works the yellow problems, Group 2 works the green problems…”  So far the kids haven’t caught on that the problems are sorted by ability or difficulty.

Find the Mistake / Ticket out the Door:  I know this is nothing new, but for some reason, the students are more willing to do this on notecards.  I hand out notecards with one problem on it.  Each card is different.  I have the students work the problem and make an intentional mistake.  I encourage them to be clever.  I collect the cards.  At the end of class, I redistribute the cards, making sure no one receives their own and have the students find the mistake.  The students take great pride in being able to ‘trick’ the person looking for their mistake. 

Yesterday I was in the lunch room, talking to a government teacher and she was concerned that if she handed out a worksheet with several readings on it the students wouldn’t do it.  She wanted to the students to read several passages and paraphrase them.  I suggested she cut out the readings and paste one per card.  I told her it was important to time the students and give them instructions on how to pass the cards.  She handed out the cards and told the students they had 5 minutes per card to read and summarize each one.  She gave a one minute warning.  After class she told me that those students read more that period than they probably read all summer.  She couldn’t believe that the notecards worked.  She partook of the notecard kool-aid and it is good; note cards are magic!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 13, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I like the idea but do they work on the card or thier own paper? I was just wondering if they work on the card, then you will have to create more cards for the other classes. Do the kids try and look at the answer on the back and short cut through to finish early. I teach lower level math kids and I am preparing for all the tricks they may try to get out of doing the work. Soulds like a good idea.

    On the 52 pick up, are the answers on the back? I assume they use their own paper.

    • August 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      Renee: I make them do the work on their own paper. If I do this in my lower level courses, I will make a worksheet with blanks for them to write the problems and show their work. I do reuse the notecards every year. I have an old card catalogue that I store them in. I do not put the answers on the back. When I hand out the cards, I give each student time to work their problem. I stress to them that they must be a master at their problem. I walk around the room and offer help to make sure the students have the correct answers before we more on.

      When I do the 52 pick up, I do not put answers on the back. Since the cards are numbered, the students write the problems down and show their work on their own paper. I collect them and correct them myself. If there are several mistakes, I have the students who got the problems correct, explain them to the rest of the class. I hope this helps.

  2. August 13, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I like all your variations, Amber. Thank you for sharing them. Your version of ticket out the door is awesome.

    • August 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      Kate, Thank you so much for your comment. I’m a huge fan of your ideas! I tend to use them frequently in class. Thanks!

  3. August 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I am headed to the store today to buy notecards! Thanks for sharing.

  4. August 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks for the clarification. I plan to try this also but may vary it by students working as partners and after they finish working they explain to the partner and when it is time to check I may have some card with answers and explinations. I am newly incorporating group work and I am trying to avoid having groups finished and waiting for me to check. This year I plan to move out of my confort zone a bit. Thanks for Sharing.

  5. August 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful activities! I use notecards for the Tea Party activity and also a different version of speed dating. I am excited about trying these new ideas as the new school year approaches. I definitely see a difference when giving students one card or a few cards rather than a worksheet. Plus, they have to think for themselves instead of working off neighbors’ work as they have different problems (generally).

    Thanks again!

  6. December 25, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I love the find the mistake as the exit out the door. Quick and easy! Also, those could be just done on scrap paper if you’re not keeping those.

  1. August 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

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