Wednesday 31 October 2007

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)




Carl Dowse said...

Hi Nik,

Thanks for this idea. I tried it out, but I'm on a Mac at the moment and in the Mac version of Word, I couldn't get it to work - no matter, I'm sure it works fine in PC and is a really handy little idea.

I wanted to bring to your attention a web-based word processing tool (a bit like Google Docs) but if anything more user-friendly in terms of logging in, etc. and the design is beautiful. The link is:

What I was wondering is how can we exploit for reaching purposes these doc sharing tools that are springing up everywhere (see also There must be ways the collaborative power of these tools can be harnessed both for in-class activities and distance learning.

I'd be really interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

Keep up the fantastic work, it's really very much appreciated.


Nik Peachey said...

Hi Carl,

Thanks for the message and for putting me on to Buzzword. I had a quick play with it and I have to say it looks pretty slick. Really nice interface. I think it's really worth keeping an eye on, especially as it's still in Beta and they are talking about adding more functionality. The ability to import video into the documents would be terrific, especially as it's produced by Adobe, so they could use that fantastic Flash compression to reduce the file sizes.

I'll try to get the time to play a bit more and write something about it.



Prof. Nelba Quintana- La Plata- Argentina said...

Hi, Nik. Very useful tutorial- Thank you very much... by the way, which tool have you used for it?

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Nelba

Sorry for the delay. I use BBFlashback for the tutorials. It's not free, but it's reasonably priced and is a really useful tool and quite easy to learn. You can download a trail copy from:

If you want something that's free see:


Good luck


Unknown said...

Hi Nik,
I've been googling "cloze maker" and "gap fill maker" for quite some time with no results at all. Your creative use of MS WORD is excellent, but I am looking for a website that would let me create an ONLINE gap fill exercise - so that I could just send my students a link to the exercise. Do you happen to know any website that might work? I would be most grateful for your ideas.
Thank you very much

Alicia said...

Hi Nik- I need your help here.
How did you get your the sonnet doc to look like that? I mean so interactive...with the colour background on the did you inset the gapped text? I made one myself but I need to insert it the way you did. When I try to do it...the F1 help function gets disabled.
Any hint here??
Thanks in advance.

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Alicia
I was using Word 97 , so it is possible it has been changed in later versions. There's a video here showing how to do it: as for the background colours, that's quite easy, just look on the 'format' tool bar for 'background' and choose a colour.

My eBooks and Lesson Plans