3 Ways You Can Use Index Cards to FLIP Your Class: Another “Unplugged” Flipped Strategy

Here are three ways you can use index cards to FLIP your class, increase engagement, and improve student learning. Index cards are an “unplugged” flipped strategy you can use in any class.

Sometimes, a tool as simple as an index card can be an excellent way to FLIP your class, increase engagement, and improve student learning. Index cards are readily available, adaptable to any learning environment, and can be used for to both involve students and assess learning.

And, since index cards come in such a wide variety of sizes, colors, and materials, you can be as creative as you want to be when designing learning activities!

Here are three flipped teaching strategies you can use during class time. They are what I called “unplugged” flipped strategies, meaning they do not require the use of technological tools. Of course, you can adapt these to include technology if you’d like to.

To get the creative ideas flowing, here are three ways you can use index cards to FLIP your class:

Strategy #1:  Index Card Exchange

Ask students to write their name and a question about the course content on the front side of the card. It could be a question about the current chapter they’re reading, the pre-class homework, or maybe a topic from the previous class.

Then, ask students to exchange cards with a partner. Ask the partner to answer the question on the back of the card. Depending on your goals for this activity, you can give students time to research the answer. Or, you can treat it like a quiz and not allow students to use any resources as they attempt to answer the question.

Once you’ve given students time to respond, ask them to return the index card the original owner so he or she can review the response. From there, you can start a class discussion, poll students for the types of questions they asked, survey how many questions were left unanswered, or repeat the exchange with a different partner to see how the responses vary. (If you attended my session at the Teaching Professor Conference last month, you may remember that this is the same activity I used to start our workshop!)

Strategy #2:  Matching Challenge

Before class, write one question on each index card for half of the students in your class. Then write the answer to each question on a separate card. It’s easier if you use two different color index cards – one for the questions and one for the answers.

As students arrive to class, give each student either a question card or an answer card. Explain the purpose of the activity, and give them time to see if they can match the question with the answer. Once students are paired with the question and answers they believe are correct, use the time to debrief, discuss, and analyze both the content and the activity.

Note: This activity probably works best in smaller classes of 30 or less students. And it takes time. Be sure to allow plenty of in-class time!

Bonus Ideas:  Compliment this activity with a worksheet featuring all of the questions and answers for students to use as a study guide. If you have a large class of more than 30 students, use small groups (or pairs). Create a set of question and answer cards for each group and give them time in class to match the questions and answers within their group.

Strategy #3:  Group Study Deck

Ask each group to create a “study deck” using index cards. Give the group 10 cards (or ever how many you want). Tell the students to use the cards to write the most important points from the content.

Then ask the groups to exchange their study deck with another group’s deck. Now they can compare their deck of cards to the other group’s deck to see what points they thought were most important. This can then lead to a discussion with you about what content is most important for the upcoming test (and what isn’t). It’s interesting to see what students think is important versus what you know is important.

If you’re looking for more ideas, download the full article featuring all 8 strategies:

Looking for more ways to use index cards? Click here to download the complete article


Hopefully, these strategies will give you a few new ideas for using index cards to FLIP your classroom. They are simple, yet effective tools for involving students, increasing engagement, and assessing learning.

Let me know how these ideas work in your classes and how you adapted them to meet the needs of your students! And if you want 101 more unplugged strategies, take a look at the book 101 Unplugged Flipped Strategies to Engage Your Students!


And if you’re looking for more flipped and active learning strategies like this to add to your lessons, enroll in an online FLIP It course today! See the complete list of FLIP It courses.

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About the Author:

Dr. Barbi Honeycutt is a speaker, scholar, and author. She shares ideas and creates resources to support educators in creating engaging learning environments. She is the founder of FLIP It Consulting in Raleigh, NC, and an adjunct professor. The “FLIP” means to “Focus on your Learners by Involving them in the Process.”

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