So the title for this post is clearly a little tongue in cheek – Carl Linnaeus invented the Index Card in the 1760s, and they’ve had a wide number of applications since then, including to education. On twitter tonight, though, a post from @EduTweetOz got me thinking about how I use index cards in the classroom, and the fact that for some beginning (or established) teachers, their use in the classroom may be a little novel.
I always keep a stash of index cards in my teacher pencil case and I find them a handy tool in the classroom. Some of my favourite ways of using them are:
- “My Favourite No” – I frame this as an activity at the start of a lesson, where I’ll put a problem on the board which is either novel (testing students ability to apply what has been taught in previous lessons), or is a recap of what has been learned previously. Example: “Question: find the surface area of a triangular prism (year 10 maths). Students complete the problem on the index card, I collect the cards, and flip through, looking for common sources of error. I then copy the problem to the board exactly as the student has written their solution. As a class we go through the student’s problem, discussing the sources of error and affirming what has been done “well” in their attempt at solving the problem.
- As an exit ticket to review the content that has been covered that lesson. It might be a problem relating to the maths work covered that day (or earlier in the week), to write an introductory paragraph on a content covered that day in a humanities subject, or to write a sentence using new vocabulary learnt in a language subject
- Asking students to write their own problem, relating to what has been covered that day, and then get them to solve it. Extension: ask students to identify where the ‘sticking points’ might be for other students.
- Reflection. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of integrating reflection/metacognition into my classroom (I’m writing a PhD on it), and I love to tie together a lesson with some reflection questions. Some of my favourites are:
- What was the most important thing you learnt today?
- What was the key idea of today’s lesson?
- What are you finding most tricky at the moment?
- What are you finding is helping you learn at the moment?
- What questions do you still have for me?
- What is stopping you from reaching your potential in (maths) at the moment?
- What is a success you’ve had lately?
- What are some of the key terms from this week’s lesson?
- What is an important formula or rule you have learnt lately?
I’ve enjoyed spontaneously pumping out this post this evening; I have been thinking recently about getting back into blogging and sharing some of my thoughts. My PhD is slowly edging towards completion – I’m hoping to have it submitted mid-year.
I would love to hear your thoughts about using index cards or similar materials in the classroom – how do you love to use them and what do you find effective? I have heard of other teachers using post-it-notes effectively to enhance their practice and communication with students.
Until next time (which hopefully won’t be another four years away),