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 (note, LearnClick is no longer free-to-use, and I’ve removed it from various “Best” lists) 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: