Cloze exercises represent activities in which certain words within a passage are deleted so that students must use contextual clues to decode or find meaning from the text. These techniques can be used across all grade levels because they enhance the student's ability to anticipate text, think critically and develop word choice and vocabulary. The exercises also can increase self-confidence in struggling readers and writers.
Selecting a Passage
When deciding on a passage to use for a cloze activity, it is important to choose a piece that is well-written so that students can make predictions that will enhance and not inhibit their learning of proper English conventions. Any piece of text can be used for cloze activities, for example, letters, stories, comic strips, poems and songs all make good cloze passages. Some guidelines include using a piece of text that the child can read independently, choosing a topic that interests the child and selecting a passage that supports the purpose. For example, if the focus is going to be rhyming words, choose a piece that has enough rhymes to support the lesson.
Designing a Cloze Activity
Cover up some of the words or word parts, depending on the focus of the lesson, with sticky notes. It is important to focus on one strategy for each cloze lesson. Choosing too many strategies will only confuse the reader, especially if the reader is young. Some examples of focus areas that could be addressed are: meaning or vocabulary by covering up vocabulary words, or letter-sound relationships or word families by covering up parts of words -- for example the -ead in read. Nouns and verbs are more difficult to predict than other parts of speech, so that exercise might be reserved for more capable readers.
Examples of Reading Activities
Teachers can use cloze activities for many different purposes. Some examples include preparing a "vowel hunt" in which the same vowel is deleted throughout the passage. Have the reader determine what vowel is missing and read through the piece. Another example would be to create a grammar cloze in which all adjectives are deleted, or perhaps all adverbs. A good idea for vocabulary instruction would be to delete specific words and replace the word with its definition. The reader must then interpret the correct word from the definition.
Examples of Writing Activities
Cloze activities also can be used for the purpose of enhancing a student's writing ability. For writing, a piece of the child's work could be used with certain words deleted. The child must then think of new ways to say what he has written. This is very useful for children who tend to use the same words repeatedly in their writing. The vocabulary cloze lesson discussed in the previous section would also be a good choice for addressing written vocabulary. Using a child's own work for these activities is particularly effective as it demonstrates useful review and revision techniques.
Alicia Anthony is a seasoned educator with more than 10 years classroom experience in the K-12 setting. She holds a Master of Education in literacy curriculum and instruction and a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She is completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing: fiction, and working on a novel.