Creating an interactive cloze text

This is the second part in a series of tutorials based around using word processors to create interactive and multimedia materials.

This tutorial looks at how you can use a word processor to create a close text - also known as a 'gap fill'- that users can interact with on their computer.

This is quite a common type of activity that we use in the classroom. The students usually do it in a book and then the teacher tells them the answers. But we can create these materials to be used on the computer.

Here is an example text that I created based around a Shakespeare sonnet. Click on the gaps and then hit F1 at the top of your keyboard. You should get a clue to help you fill in your gaps.
At the end you can scroll down and check the answers.

Here is a short tutorial movie showing how the interactive 'gaps' were created (Using MS Word 97)
How to use this with students
This feature could be used in a number of different ways. You could use the text to give the students:
  • The correct answer
  • The first letter of the missing word
  • A synonym
  • Some instructions telling them to add to the text
  • A textual clue or prompt
The advantage of getting students to do these activities on the computer, is that by adding prompts or clues there is some middle ground for development between getting the answer right and getting it wrong, so this isn't simply a test.

Close activities like these can be used for a number of purposes:
  • Students can listen to an audio file and fill in the missing word
  • Students can watch a video and complete a description of the action
  • You can delete all the prepositions and get students to add them
  • Delete all the verbs and students replace them
  • Take out all the vocabulary words of a lexical group
  • Delete words at random ( every 5th, 10th word etc.)
Making the right gaps
Generally I think it's best to take out words where there is some chance that the students will be able to work out the meaning of the missing word from the context that surrounds it.
  • Example 1: "He went to the shop and bought a ____ " doesn't give you much clue to the meaning of the missing word, but
  • Example 2:"He reached into his pocket, took out a _________ and lit a cigarette" gives you a much better chance at guessing the meaning of the missing word ( Probably match or lighter)
The same can be true of grammatical words.
  • Example 1: " He had an operation on his __ last year" Not much chance of guessing this, though you would know it was probably a part of the body.
  • Example 2: " He had an operation __ his leg last year" Good chance of guessing this. If your students know their prepositions they'll know that the missing word is 'on' (operate on).
Hope you find this useful. The tutorial movie above was done on MS Word 97, I'm guessing that other versions of Word operate in a similar way, but if anyone knows how you can do the same thing on other free software like Open Office, then please do leave a comment.

For anyone interested in using the Sonnet worksheet above, there is also a recording of Alan Rickman reading it here on Youtube (Thanks to Jo Bertrand for the link)