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Use “LearnClick” For An Excellent Metacognitive Lesson

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Clozes, also known as “gap-fills” or “fill-in-the-blanks,” are short texts with blanks. Students have to “fill in” what they believe to be the missing words.

They are excellent tools for assessing reading comprehension and vocabulary development. We use them several times a year as a formal formative assessment. In addition, we use them at other times to help students develop skills in using context clues for understanding meaning (as well as opportunities for them to learn new information about the content). When we’re using them during these non-assessment times, though, the real value is in having students explain “why” they chose each word to complete the passage.

The way to maximize students developing a better grasp of using context clues through this added metacognitive “twist” is, after students become familiar with the cloze procedure, is to actually have them create their own which they can share with classmates.

I have students first hand copy two or three short paragraphs out of a book they’re reading (this is a not a tool to practice writing original work) and carefully select which words they are going to remove — ensuring that there are “clues” for those blanks. Here’s a simple example of what I mean by “clues”:

Mr. Ferlazzo has three children — two girls and one boy. _____________ tries to be a good ______________________ to his kids by being helpful and loving. His wife is also kind. He also has two dogs and a cat. The dogs and __________ do not like each other.

If you do a search for “clozes” on the Internet, you’ll found that most are fairly useless. The blanks in most of them are generated randomly, with clearly having no thought about the importance of clues.

When I have students create clozes, I generally ask them to choose the text from a book they are reading and give them five rules:

1. It should have 8-10 blanks.

2. It should not have a blank in the first or last sentence (the first sentence is designed to help students get a sense of what the passage is about, and the last sentence also gives some closure. Students know they should read the entire cloze first before they start completing it, as well as filling-in the easier ones first).

3. There need to be clue words for every blank.

4. There should not be more than one blank in each sentence.

5. Students are trying to teach, not to trick, their classmates.

Though I’ve done this for several years, this is the first time a free and easy-to-use site like LearnClick has been available (there have been other cloze-creation sites, but none that I thought were student-friendly). LearnClick makes it super-simple and free to create and post interactive clozes online so students from different classes — in fact, students anywhere — can try completing them. And they’re much more enjoyable to create, too!

Here are few samples my students made today:

Cloze Test ‘Japanese American Internment Camps’

Cloze Test ‘Eleanor ‘

Cloze Test ‘San Francisco’

In addition, for a total cost of $5 per year (yes, only $5) LearnClick lets you create virtual classrooms so you can keep track of how you’re students are doing on clozes you post.

I’m adding LearnClick to The Best Ways To Create Online Tests.

In addition, since it costs so little to keep track of student scores — if you want to — I’m adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

12 Comments

  1. Please note that $5 was just a special introduction price which was only until the end of March. The real price is $10, which is still far cheaper than what you would get elsewhere. Also we are planning on adding further types of quizzes soon.

    • ‘Morning,

      Any plans for those of us who have a website to buy a licence and the generator and all the files on our hard disk?
      Thanks
      MR

      • @Michael: We do have plans to create an iPad app. This will allow you to save your files offline on your iPad. Do you use an iPad?

    • Yes, I have an i-pad2, Philip. Then we will be able to upload those files on our respective websites, I presume. Well that’s very good news, then:))

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  3. Hi

    Have you tried taskmagic? It does all that and much more!!!

  4. ‘Morning Mr Ferlazzo,

    Had a look at LearnClick which I think is great for colleagues who don’t have a personal website … otherwise it is money wasted … With 50 dollars over a two-year period one can buy an authoring programme and keep everything on one’s hard disk/server.

    What happens if LearnClick disappears … all the money and time and effort is lost forever. Having said this, I have started using Textivate … hoping that one day we’ll be able to purchase a licence … What I said above is valid for Textivate, too :)

    Personally, they should be flexible and offer applications for those of us who have a site and others who don’t.

    • As I just replied above, we are considering making an iPad app that will allow you to save the quizzes offline. But I just wanted to highlight that the real strength of the online version of learnclick.com is that you can create student accounts and have their input recorded. Learnclick allows you to easily compare the input of all your students. See http://www.learnclick.com/statistics

      • I fully understand your concept … but maybe it would be more flexible to have two options … for teachers who have a website and other colleagues who don’t. Educaplay does that, for example.

  5. Just one more point … look Educaplay … they’re being extremely flexible as they allow you to keep your files on their site and to also download them and put them up your site personal site ….
    Have a lovely Sunday:)

  6. @Philip There’s also QuizPress (Sol Robots)… http://www.solrobots.com/quizpress/

    I wish your company long life … but my other worry is what happens if a company which hosts exercise generators and exercises made by teachers decides to stop, for any given reason, its web activities … all the work invested in producing the exercises is gone forever…. whereas if we have a working (flash, java etc..) copy of our files we can repost them on our websites.

    A typical example is SpellMaster and SpellSounds … great exercise generators … had the owner kept our files on his server we would have lost everything … His site is no longer up and running .. I do hope he comes back one of these days … but at least, thanks to his approach to things, I can go on generating flash exercises.

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