How to Study: Index Card Method – Linking it to Standards Based Learning

I have my students make index cards instead of taking notes on paper.  Then we hole-punch them and put them on a silver ring.  Think 1st grade site word list here.  The kids enjoy making them and don’t mind going over them before tests.  I have some vocab but mostly example problems on the cards.  To study, I tell my students to rework the index card problems on a separate sheet of paper until they can get it right without looking at the answer on the back of the card.   **  I like Kate’s cover, copy, repeat and am going to add the “copy” part this year. **  I tell them to take the index card off of the ring once they know it cold.

In the past I have had the students make the notecards on test review day as their in-class review.  Then, they used these cards to study for their test.  This year I am going to have my students make the cards as we go along instead of making them all on the same day at then end of the unit.  Then they can look at them to help with homework or review work.

I read a post from Jason about teaching students how to study.  This made me think about how to make the cards more useful to the students as I incorporate Standards Based Learning this year.  So, on the front of each index card I am going to have the students write   “CONCEPT #1”   in the top right hand corner.  As they plug along on their concept checklist, if they need help with a concept they will know which index card(s) they need to access for additional help and study.  They can keep these cards on their ring until they reach a 4 or 5 (mastery) on the concept list.

That is all I have so far!  I would love any tweeks or additional thoughts as I am very much in the planning stages now.


They write the notecards from my Powerpoint slides – like this.

After each chapter is finished, I have them take the cards off of the ring and make “Flip Charts” for each chapter.  Read all about it and see pictures of the finished flip charts here.

9 thoughts on “How to Study: Index Card Method – Linking it to Standards Based Learning

  1. My student teaching semester was in a standards-based math curriculum (Core-Plus Mathematics) and they utilized a Toolkit for note keeping. (For a description of what they do, visit:… in our case, we had a lot of lower motivated students, so we chose what they needed to put in.) Same basic concept as what you’re doing except they had the note card books that were pre-bound by a metal spiral. After students had done their discovery work, we summarized the main concepts as a class and the teacher helped formalize their thoughts into math succinct math language. The students would then title and number their note card, making the appropriate entry on their table of contents page. Rather than removing the notecard upon mastery, students kept everything in their toolkit… and usually kept their toolkit with them for several years. At the end of high school, students had 3-4 of these toolkits in their backpacks ready to take with them to College or keep for the workplace. Making your notecards something more permanent… so students can transfer the knowledge with them past the summer might be something to consider. Rather than removing the card from the ring, you could stamp a star or something on their card demonstrating mastery.

    Love this idea though and I’m thinking about how to incorporate the toolkit idea next year. Thanks for adding me on the ms-math-tweechers list. Look forward to sharing!

    • I love this idea! They sell those small notecard holders at Staples. It would be perfect! They even come with dividers that we could label by unit, allowing the cards to be sorted and easily found. I love the table of contents too. I would like to tie this to the concepts list.
      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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