Common Sense Review
Updated September 2013

Trading Cards

Guided flashcards try to break out of the drill and memorization mold
Common Sense Rating 3
Pros
You can use your own images with the pre-made guiding questions for eye-catching, effective study.
Cons
You're limited to the pre-loaded main categories and guiding questions.
Bottom Line
Easy, free way to help kids think about, organize, and study people, places, vocabulary, book characters, and more.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

There's enough free choice to keep kids connected to the content. The structure, with seven main categories and guiding questions, helps keep the cards focused and relevant.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Students learn by making and sharing study cards. They also can sort the cards into collections, which encourages organization and categorization. Alternatively, they can go with the old standby: using cards for memorization drills.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Three pages of visual instructions help users. Lesson plans, organized by grade level, are available on the developer's website, ReadWriteThink.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Trading Cards was developed in conjunction with the website ReadWriteThink (a division of the National Council for Teachers of English). Be sure to view the site's grade-specific lesson plans for ideas on how to use the app in class. English and social studies teachers will be especially interested, as Trading Cards may fit nicely with existing curricula for any fiction or non-fiction text.

For an active and engaging way to create cards, encourage students to use the iPad's camera to take photos for their cards. They can get creative and draw the images, or even take a photo of themselves acting out the topic. With some extra planning, you can use the app to turn simple flashcard creation into something more kinesthetic and interactive. Better yet, take a cue from the app's namesake and have students actually trade flashcards as part of a jigsaw activity.

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What's It Like?

Trading Cards creates custom digital flashcards using pictures and text. The app includes card categories and guided questions to help students focus on the most important study information. They'll choose from topics such as vocabulary words, places, fiction, or non-fiction reading. For example, a fictional character card may include questions about the the character's "Appearance or Personality," a "Problem" the character faces, a "Quote," and more. Cards can be sorted into groups, emailed, or printed.

To get started, students can choose one of seven types of cards, name the card, and choose an image. They'll then answer the guiding questions to fill out the card. Students can also change each card's design, then group, print, or email the cards. Using photos isn't required, but it can be useful for creating attractive -- and memorable -- cards.

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Is It Good For Learning?

As students create their own flashcards using Trading Cards, they can include specific images and choose from 12 card designs, which is especially useful for visual learners. The guiding questions can help kids organize ideas and improve comprehension. Parents may need to help younger kids to identify relevant answers to the guiding questions. While the preexisting card categories work well, the app could be even more useful if it allowed users to create their own main categories as well as custom guiding questions.

Students can then trade cards by sharing them via email or printing them on paper. Simply creating the cards is a decent way to study and consider new information; however, whether kids retain the information will likely depend on what they do with the cards after they're made. It's nice that Trading Cards encourages kids to share their knowledge with others -- it's a much more empowering way to learn than simple drill-and-practice memorization.

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See how teachers are using Trading Cards

Lesson Plans