A cloze passage is a piece of text in which words have been omitted throughout. A cloze can be used for more than one purpose. A teacher's objective in assigning a cloze activity may be to assess reading comprehension, to help students improve their comprehension or to assess the appropriateness of reading material. The objective for the student is to predict words that belong in the blanks of the cloze passage.
Choose a topic. A cloze can be used to introduce new material or to review material. Choose a short supplemental text to turn into a cloze passage. For example, if you are a history teacher and you are introducing a unit on the Civil War, you might choose or write a summary of the unit or a letter written from a soldier to his wife. Any text can be used for a cloze.
Copy and paste the text you will use. If you are going to white out the phrases, you will want to use a copy machine to make your copies. Make one copy for yourself, and then make a copy for each student in the class. If you are using a word processing program, simply create two pages with the same text. One of the pages will be the complete text, and the other will become a cloze.
Omit words from the complete passage. If you are going to white out words after having copied the text, simply white out certain words from the selection. Important: This is not the same as a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. Avoid whiting out only key words from the text. A good approach is to white out every fifth word. This may include articles, such as "a," "an" or 'the," or conjunctions, such as "and," "but" and "or." If you are using a word processing program, highlight the word you would like to omit and then simply insert a blank long enough for students to write in their guess of the missing word.
Copy the cloze passage on a separate piece of paper.It is important that the complete text and the cloze passage are on separate pages. This will be explained in the administration section of this article.
Distribute the cloze passage only.
Instruct students to read the selection, even though there are missing words.
Tell students to guess or predict which word belongs in each blank. Tell them to use context clues and to pay attention to parts of speech that are missing from the sentence. Important: Tell students they will have an opportunity to check their work with the complete passage. Their guesses should not be graded for correctness. (If a grade is given for this activity, it should be for completion only.) When they are finished, tell them to turn their cloze over.
Distribute the complete passage. Instruct students to read the complete passage silently. Here, they should pay attention to the words that were missing in their cloze text. Important: Again, they should only have one paper on their desk at a time. At this point, they are not to be "checking their work" by comparing their answers side by side. Having the pages side by side eliminates the objective of this strategy.
Instruct students to turn the complete passage over and to return to their cloze. Students now have the opportunity to make corrections, if necessary, to their guesses or predictions. If students are having trouble "remembering" which words to correct or need to refer back to the complete passage, they may turn the cloze over, re-read the complete passage, turn the complete passage over and return to the cloze. Both documents should not be face-up at the same time.
With the class, discuss aloud or with the use of an overhead projector which words belong in each blank.
Before proceeding to the next blank, ask students to share what they originally put in the blank and discuss reasons why they guessed that word. Praise students who wrote synonyms for the actual word (for example, for the word "omitted" the student wrote "removed"). This shows their ability to make accurate predictions, and this is one objective of the strategy -- to improve reading comprehension.
Proceed blank by blank, discussing each blank, if possible.
When you have completed the review of this activity, ask students to put both the cloze and the complete passage out of view. Either give a written, no-pressure, pop quiz covering the content you wanted the students grasp, or ask questions regarding the content.
Point out to students that they just learned something on their own, by reading, making predictions, correcting and discussing their mistakes. When students believe they have taught themselves, their self-confidence is raised and they will retain the information longer, if not forever.
Things You Will Need
- Two copies of a short piece of text (200-300 words)
- White out or word processing program
- Copies of cloze passage for students
- Copies of complete text for students
- Overhead projector
- Cloze passage on transparency
- Overhead marker
- If a grade must be given, please grade the students on their completion of the entire activity, not on the correct answers, which could will lead to stress for students if they do not think they were "warned" about a "fill-in-the-blank quiz."
- This is not the same concept as fill-in-the-blank.
- Do not use a word bank. Students must draw from their background knowledge of the content, written word and grammar and syntax.
- Carin Wilson