Enhanced Flash Cards

When a student needs help with new vocabulary or simple concepts, flash cards have long been the go to for teachers of all grade levels. Enhanced flashcards simply build upon this foundation by broadening the application and deepening the learning.  Beyond rote memorization, this strategy allows students to make important connections between concepts while allowing for flexibility and multiple applications.  Simply taking the time to create the cards is a worthwhile endeavor, not to mention putting them to good use.
To show an example we will use a complicated topic. Could be for something basic for younger students. For example, for pre-k learning animals might be something to use an enhanced flash card. The enhanced flash card could have Cow on the front, and on the back would be a definition of what a cow is and the sound a cow makes, how many legs a cow has, etc.
This example in the pictures come from an AP Statistics course so please do not get bogged down by the technical language:
The term "histogram" is on the front.  But simply knowing the definition isn't enough for this student.  There are connections and applications that the students must understand - within this lesson, chapter, unit and the entire course.  So, when the student flips over to the back, in addition to the definition, the following items specific to this class/course are included:
  • Tech Ref: For this course, understanding when a calculator or software program can be utilized is critical.  This allows the student to quickly locate (pg. 43 in their textbook) the step-by-step process of building a histogram using the TI-84 calculator.
  • Skill Category: In this course, the students have four overarching "skills" that require demonstration of mastery: 1) Selecting Statistical Methods; 2) Data Analysis; 3) Using Probability and Simulation; 4) Statistical Augmentation.  Histograms fall under 2) Data Analysis 
  • Unit: College Board organizes the topics in the course by unit and the textbook is aligned.  Histograms are covered in Unit 1.
  • Big Idea: In addition to skill categories, College Board has structures the curriculum so that every topic falls into one of three Big Ideas: Variation and Distribution (VAR); Patterns and Uncertainty (UNC); and Data-Based Predictions, Decisions, and Conclusions (DAT).  Histograms fall under both the VAR and UNC Big Ideas.
There are two really simple reasons for structuring the flash cards like this:
1) In many courses, particularly middle- and high-school courses, knowing the definition isn't going to be enough.  Adding to and personalizing the cards can only deepen the learning and improve the strategy.
2) Let's say by the time the course is over, each student has created 500 flash cards.  When studying for the final exam, the number of ways to organize and attack studying are bounded only by your creativity.  Can't we sort by Big Idea?  Or Skill Category?  Or Unit?  Or take all the graphical displays (the ones with pictures)?  Students can map out the entire course in a personalized manner so that they can sort and study according to how they best process.'
We chose this example because of many different ways a student is expected to "understand" histograms.