Activity in which words are removed from a passage for a learner to fill in as an exercise in reading comprehension. The missing words may or may not be provided in a word bank.
Cloze is most often used with upper-elementary and older students, and its most common form is a worksheet. However, cloze activities come in many forms and can also be used to help younger learners make use of context clues.
Guess the covered word
Pat Cunningham, in The Teacher’s Guide to the Four Blocks (1999) describes a “Guess the Covered Word” activity that can be used to explore onset and rime, use context clues for comprehension building and strengthen vocabulary. For new readers, onset and rime provide an analogy by which to learn to spell and read words. A teacher of students in primary grades would use Guess the Covered Word using onset and rime along with context clues to figure out the missing word.
First, the teacher writes one or more sentences on the board, on sentence strips, or on the overhead. Next, the teacher uses two sticky notes to cover selected words. One sticky note is used to cover the onset of the word and the other sticky note is used to cover the rime. Some teachers make the distinction between the onset and rime more definitive by using different colored sticky notes; one color sticky note would always be used for word onset and another color always used for word rime.
A student or the teacher would then read the sentence or group of sentences. Some teachers like to have a student read the whole passage just saying “blank” whenever a covered word is encountered so the students get a feel for what the passage is about in general. If this is done, a reader should then go back and read just the first sentence again for the group’s consideration of the missing word in just that first sentence.
Students then volunteer their ideas for what the covered word might be by using context clues. The teacher records the ideas on the board or chart paper. The teacher then uncovers the sticky note that hides the onset. Words that have been guessed by students that do not match the uncovered onset are crossed out. Students may make more “guesses.” The teacher and students discuss which words make sense in the space and which begin with the same onset. The covered word can then be completely revealed.
Another way to create an interactive cloze for a large or small group of students is to use Power Point. This is best used when there is a small amount of text as in the above example for “Guess the Covered Word.”
To make a cloze on Power Point, prepare slides with appropriate sentences by typing in the text. Then, the background color of the slide is selected. The word that will be hidden from view should be highlighted and made to be the same color as the background of the slide. This will create a blank space in the text. What is helpful about typing in the word and then “blanking” it out is that students can use the length of the blank as a clue to what the word might be.
Next, go to “Custom Animation” and select “choose effect.” Choose the “brush in” effect. The brush in in on animation will sweep over the text, changing the color. This will make the “blanked out” word appear as if by magic!
Cloze for independent readers
To make an interactive cloze activity for students who are independent readers, a cloze activity can be made on the computer. Cloze activities made with a program such as Hot Potatoes can be created to allow for hint giving to students. Much like “Guess the Covered Word,” Hot Potatoes can offer students one letter at a time hints for determining a word. Complex ideas and challenging vocabulary can be incorporated into such activities for students.
For students in upper elementary grades through high school, cloze will be best used as an individual activity or perhaps in student learning pairs as the length of the text is much longer than a whole group discussion would allow.
Teachers of students in kindergarten through twelfth grade may use a book that a student is reading (a basal or self selected chapter book) to create a quick cloze activity. Sticky notes can be cut so that just the sticky strip is used to cover words within books or passages. This strategy works well for small groups of readers as a mini-lesson for context clues. This particular activity does not require lots of teacher preparation time and is an authentic way to tuck skills learning into meaningful text reading.
Examples and resources
This example on Properties, Changes, and Classification of Matter, from Tami Maloney’s Interactive Quizzes website, is a challenging and interactive cloze with hints.
Wendy Bell uses a cloze activity with a word bank as an assessment device for ESL students in her LEARN NC lesson plan, Friends Fly Together.