Creating and using flashcards is a useful revision strategy that I want my students to know. Some of my students already create their own flashcards, but many who did waited until the week before the test to frantically make revision materials. Over the years, I've found different ways of using flash cards throughout a unit to help check for understanding and to help my students create revision materials throughout a unit rather than the week before a test. Here are the top 5 ways that I use flash cards in my classroom.
1.) Students answer flash cards as an entrance slip or exit slip.
I like to give students flash cards with the question on the front but the answer is not filled in on the back. I'll use these as a way of checking for prior knowledge, or to check for understanding once we've learned a concept. It's an easy activity to start or end a lesson! Once I hand the flash cards back students are given the opportunity to expand or improve upon their answer and then they keep the flash cards as part of their revision materials.
2.) I assign flash cards to answer as part of a homework assignment.
Rather than answering the questions in class, sometimes I'll ask students to answer flash cards as part of a homework assignment. I think one of the important things in science is revising material to help reinforce what you've learned. Creating flash cards can be an easy, relatively stress-free way for students to engage with the material outside of class, and then once again they have a revision resource when it comes time to study for a test.
3.) Students use flash cards to quiz one another.
Once students have made their flash cards they can use them to revise or study concepts. I often have my students partner up and quiz one another on the material we've learned. This is a great activity if you find yourself finishing a lesson early, or if you need your students to stay busy for a few minutes while you deal with an unexpected interruption in the lesson. I encourage my students to take note of the cards they struggle answering so they can focus on those concepts in the future.
4.) We use flash cards as game cards for our end of unit revision.
I love to use games for revision when it comes to preparing for a test - students enjoy them and are more engaged with activity. Rather than create a new set of questions for our revision game every time we finish a unit, I use the flash cards that we've already created as game cards. I'm able to utilize the same games and resources that I have in my classroom but make it specific to what my students are learning. We also have stations set up around the room with 5-10 cards at each station where students work in groups of 2-3 to discuss different concepts and quiz one another.
5.) Students make their own flash cards.
A lot of the time I think we assume that students know how to do things, but it's important that we also model it for them. I start off the year giving students a set of flash cards for our first unit that include the answers on the back to give them a general sense of the expectations for how much detail to include and how to format them. Then as the year progresses I still create the questions for the flash cards but leave the answers blank for them to fill out. By the end of the year I have my students work to create their own flash cards from scratch - they identify the key concepts and answers needed. Sometimes we'll break it down into sections: students will brainstorm in small groups what content to include and the correct answers, then create a small set of flash cards for their topic. We then compile them as a class so that everyone has a complete set. By the end of the year I feel confident that my students have the skills to create their own flash cards for revision in the future!
Want some help getting started with flash cards?
I have sets of 60 flash cards for each of the body systems available now in my teachers pay teachers store. Each set comes with two versions: one with answers written on the backs and one with blanks on the back for students to fill in.