What are Literacy Task Cards? December 12 2008

Teaching Resource Center Literacy Task Cards

Designed by Linda Dorn, Carla Soffos, and Teresa Treat, Literacy Task Cards are a set of literacy activities that guide student’s (Grades K-2) attention to the print-sound code.

After you demonstrate a few tasks for your class or small group, your students use the cards in independent work at literacy corners.

The task cards are described in detail in Shaping Literate Minds, pages 77 - 87. A well designed literacy corner will promote independent problem-solving activity.

We know from experience that literacy corners (or centers) are often used as management tools while the teacher works with small groups.

We encourage teachers to view the literacy tasks from a cognitive perspective, that is, as opportunities for students to practice their knowledge and strategies in various contexts and for different purposes.

We revisit the theory of reciprocal connections between reading, writing, and spelling; we link these language processes to the literacy corner activities.

The Literacy Task Cards have all the task, picture, word and category cards that you need. If you have purchased the Complete Classroom Kit then you will have all the letter tiles and magnetic letters that you will need.

What makes Literacy Task Cards so different?

The creators of Literacy Task Cards broke the learning process out into  three levels of reading control: emergent, early, transitional. Although the overall goal for each level (e.g., “building words”) remains constant, the task requirements at each level are adjusted to accommodate the student’s knowledge from a previous level.

The following principles are characteristic of the task cards:

  1. They are organized to match literacy behaviors that students apply when reading at the emergent, early, and transitional levels. They reinforce students’ knowledge of the print-sound code through developmentally appropriate tasks that are matched to their guided reading groups.
  2. They focus on problem-solving tasks that promote fluency, flexibility, and independence. Each new task requires that the students apply their knowledge and skills gained from previous tasks.
  3. They use consistent language on all tasks, thus enabling the students to internalize the instructions for guiding their performance.

What are some characteristics of emergent readers at the print-sound level?

The goal of the emergent level is to promote the student’s attention to print. The The Literacy Task Cards provide the student with opportunities to hear sounds within words and to sequence the letters in some known words. Some behaviors that indicate the student’s control of the print-sound code near the end of the emergent level, are:

  • Attends to print using some known letters or words.
  • Points to words in a one-to-one match throughout one to three lines of patterned texts.
  • Recognizes the link between known letters and related sounds.
  • Acquires an understanding of left-to-right directional movement.
  • Fluently reads some high frequency words in easy texts.

How do the task cards support the emergent reading process?

The literacy task cards are designed so students can practice these behaviors on independent tasks. Some behaviors that indicate the student’s control of the print-sound code near the end of the emergent level, are:

  • Analyzes letter features and identifies letters based on discriminating features.
  • Acquires concept of word and constructs single syllable words in a left-right order.
  • Notices relationship between known letters and sounds as they relate to special key words.
  • Compares and categorizes words by initial sounds and basic rhyming patterns.

What are the characteristics of early readers at the print-sound level?

At the early level, the student monitors his reading with greater ease, and, as a result, he engages in more efficient searching behaviors to solve problems within text. Near the end of the early level, the student has begun to notice the spelling patterns within words.

Some behaviors that indicate the student’s control of the print-sound code are:

  • Uses known words and patterns to check on reading.
  • Searches through words in a left-to-right sequence and blends letters into sounds.
  • Takes words apart at the larger unit of analysis.
  • Reads high frequency words quickly, fluently, and automatically.
  • Becomes faster at noticing error and initiates multiple attempts to self-correct.

How do the task cards support the early reading process?

The literacy task cards are designed to support students as they move from phonetic spelling to transitional spelling. For instance, at the lower end of the early continuum, students are required to match letters and sounds in sequence. Near the end of the early continuum, students have acquired an awareness of spelling patterns.

Some behaviors that indicate the student’s control of the print-sound code are:

  • Spells most unknown words phonetically, including embedded sounds in two and three syllable words.
  • Notices relationship between letter patterns and clusters of sound.
  • Uses known words as a base for adding inflections.
  • Uses known words and patterns to build unknown words.
  • Manipulates letters to form simple analogies.

What are the characteristics of transitional readers at the print-sound level?

At the transitional level, the student has developed a range of flexible strategies for working on text. His decoding skills are more sophisticated and refined; thus he reads longer texts with greater accuracy and fluency. He takes words apart on the run when reading and he uses word meanings to solve unknown words.

Some behaviors that indicate the student’s control of the print-sound code are:

  • Solves multi-syllabic words by noticing parts within the words.
  • Quickly takes words apart on the run while reading.
  • Reads longer texts with greater accuracy and fluency.
  • Use word meanings to solve word problems (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, roots, and compound words).

How do the task cards support the transitional reading process?

The  The Literacy Task Cards are designed to support students at the transitional level. Some behaviors that indicate the student’s control of print-sound knowledge are:

  • Analyzes unknown words with greater efficiency and speed.
  • Uses syllable breaks to spell longer words.
  • Uses more complex analogies to analyze words.
  • Analyzes parts of words (e.g., inflectional endings, rimes, and contractions).
  • Spells words with greater accuracy.
  • Shows evidence of transitional spelling for words with more unusual patterns.

What is the teacher's role in shaping the minds of young children?

As you work with your students, we invite you to explore this question!

-Linda Dorn

You can Purchase the Teaching Resource Center Literacy Task Cards Online or contact us to order by purchase order.

Classroom Demonstration Videos

In order to help teachers better understand how the Word Building Literacy Task Cards are used in the classroom we have provided a series of 5 videos you can view below.

Chapter One - Introducing task cards at the emergent, early and transitional levels. Teacher introduces task cards and baskets to the students and discusses completion of tasks and matching letters to the picture cards:

Chapter Two -  Adopting Independent Work Strategies, Emergent Level:

Chapter Three -  Adopting Group Work Strategies, Early Level:

Chapter Four -  Adopting Independent Work Strategies, Spelling Patterns "oi and "oy", Early Level:

Chapter Five -  Taking Words Apart, Emergent Level:

Get the Teaching Resource Center Literacy Task Cards Online or contact us to order by purchase order.