Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Card Matching

Michell Eike, Teresa Lansford | Published: September 23rd, 2021 by K20 Center


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Card Matching

This formative assessment strategy involves finding pairs (or sets) of cards that uniquely share the same relationship or attribute. Card decks do not need to have equal size groups. Consider creating uneven matches, where there are more of one type of card than another, or creating some cards that do not have matches, or creating blank cards for students to create the matching card. To best see student misunderstandings with this strategy, create cards that are each slightly different. Those subtle differences help bring to light where students need additional support.

Card Matching


Use this prior to a lesson to determine a starting point for instruction or at the end of a lesson to see what misconceptions still exist.


  1. Create a deck of cards containing several matching pairs (or sets) of cards according to the chosen topic.

  2. Prepare enough decks of cards for each group. (Consider storing sets of cards in envelopes or zip-top bags.)

  3. Have students divide into groups of 2–3 students.

  4. Give each group a deck of cards, with the task of finding the cards that match.

  5. As students work on matching their cards, circulate the room and ask different students why they matched certain cards together. Not only will students be talking about their thinking within their group, but now also with you. Be sure to listen carefully to students’ justifications for their match. Students may select the right match, but their reasoning may be faulty.

Math Example: Students could be given 24 cards: 8 with graphs, 8 with equations, and 8 with intercepts. Students would be asked to match the cards—one of each type—to create 8 groups of cards where the graph and intercepts match the equation.

Keeley, P., & Tobey, C. R. (2011). Mathematics formative assessment: 75 Practical strategies for linking assessment, instruction, and learning. Corwin, SAGE.