Cloze is a technique that is popular with middle school students as well as teachers. Some refer to it as "fill-in-the-blank" work due to worksheets and tests in which words are removed from text and replaced with blanks. Although mainly used in situations requiring written responses, cloze is also useful for ensuring student participation in shared reading during which students signal that they are following a teacher's read-aloud by saying words that the teacher drops on purpose. Cloze can be particularly helpful in content areas such as social studies and science where it reinforces retention of key vocabulary and ideas.

Try using the cloze technique when doing a shared reading assignment, such as when exploring a current events newsletter for students. Tell the students to read along silently, notice words that are dropped and call them out immediately. Pause slightly when dropping a word to give students a call-out cue.

Selection of the deletions can be random or based on a pattern such as dropping specific kinds of words or dropping every seventh word. This process makes a shared reading more interactive and keeps students accountable.

Create a worksheet for note-taking during a lecture. Give each student a print copy of the notes to be presented in which key vocabulary and phrases are deleted.

Make a master copy of the notes without any deletions, but underline the words that are missing from the student copy. Create a transparency of the master for an overhead projector or a photocopy for a document camera. Cover the master with a blank paper, gradually revealing the contents of the lecture notes. Pause so students can fill in their notes as they see what words were deleted.

Create a master of a two-page text, such as a portion of a novel. Decide what words to delete from the student copy. Consider what teaching point the deletions should support, such as selecting words that make sense (syntax) or focusing on a particular part of speech or literary technique. Include a word bank containing all the vocabulary that was deleted.

Allow students to work with partners in completing the text and discussing its meaning. Review the answers and teaching point when time is up.

Create the master for a multiple-choice worksheet about content-area vocabulary, such as math terminology. Provide 10 problems, each about a different vocabulary word. Write a definition for each one. Select and underline one important word or phrase to delete from each definition. Provide three or four possible answers for each problem.

Make a student copy of the worksheet in which the underlined words are replaced with blanks. Allow students to work independently or in small groups to complete the definitions. Use the master copy to review the answers. This is good preparation for a test.

Design a test on which students will work independently to fill in the blanks. Base the design on a familiar pattern such as in steps 3 and 4. When students take tests in formats they have practiced many times, they experience greater success.


Cloze is a particularly good technique to use with English language learners.

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