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Card Sort

This strategy gives students the opportunity to work with vocabulary, terms, and concepts. Students sort cards with the terms and concepts into categories based on meaning. Sorting the cards gives students a structure to talk meaningfully with one another about content and helps teachers check for understanding.

How to use

1. Select

Decide which concepts or terms you want students to learn from the current unit of study and prepare cards with the name of each concept or term. Make enough sets of cards for pairs or trios to use.

2. Sort

Have the students sort the cards into meaningful groups or matches. Model the conversation students will have with one another to determine how to sort their cards or how to match them.

3. Discuss

Discuss the categories or matches. Ask groups to explain how they decided to sort their cards..

When to use

Use Card Sort at any point in the lesson to structure meaningful conversation:

  • Before beginning a new assignment to test prior knowledge
  • After introducing new vocabulary
  • After learning about categories and classification
  • When a unit is completed  to review concepts and terms


Concept Sort

Ask students to group terms or concepts into piles and have them write the name of the category or relationship on a blank card to be placed on top of each pile.


Ask students to sort the cards various times (2-3) in the same sitting and make different connections and categories for the terms/concepts. They should write the names of the new categories or relationships on blank cards to be placed on top of the differently sorted piles.

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