I love that creating cloze activities is so simple and do-able. If you happen to have access to a SMART Notebook, here is a demonstration of how to use it to set up any kind of cloze activity. Many other instructional technologies have this capacity as well, including assessment tools in the online course platform, Moodle.
Here is an amazing option you might not know you have in Microsoft Word. The presenter shows you how to highlight a word in any document, and use the MS Word Developer tools to set choice options for replacing the missing word. The document you create can be emailed to students to complete independently and email back to you. Or, if your school is cellphone-friendly, they can complete the activity in pairs or small groups right in the classroom, using their phones.
This article begins with an excellent discussion of the reasons why cloze activities can improve reading comprehension of a particular type of text. An important point is that, “…it helps readers to recognize the interrelationships of language.” In 1977, Bob Blanc published Cloze-Plus for poetry in the Journal of Reading. He had found that when he used cloze activity sheets made with poems, student groups immediately began to “discover” literary devices such as rhythm, rhyme, and alliteration.
Here is a description of Cooperative Cloze activities. It outlines the process and benefits of having students work in pairs or small groups on any type of cloze activity—with or without a word bank, with or without clues, and with random, “nth number” deletions or specific types of deletions. Note the links to several sample cloze worksheets for the Cooperative Cloze activity.
Here is a super simple tool that you can use to create any kind of cloze activity, including a Standard Cloze Passage Test. For a class activity, you might want to have fewer than 50 blanks, and to make the task easier, set the random deletion criterion to more than 5. For a Standard Cloze Passage Test, set the creator to “text only,” “no clues,” and every “5th” word deletion. And submit!
The term “cloze” was coined in 1953 by Wilson Taylor, the researcher who first studied its use for reading assessment. Simply put, a cloze activity is print material that has certain words deleted for the reader to try to fill in. Since 1953, many researchers continued this line of study and developed the “Standard Cloze Passage Test,” as described in this document. It is important to note that the “Standard Cloze Passage Test” is very specific.
I like that this video shows a student working through an example of a simple form of cloze. The words that have been deleted are available in a “word bank” at the bottom of the page. Recent research has shown that this type of activity is even more effective when it is done in small groups—as a "collaborative cloze" activity. Any material can be used to create cloze activities, but ideally you would use your course textbook.
Words—language—are the medium of all learning, teaching, and communication. The language of each academic discipline is unique and becomes more and more unique the further we go in our study. The many variations on the simple “cloze” technique take students inside the language of whatever they are reading, and make them more effective users of language. This video is quite brief, and hopefully quite inspirational.