I love a good Kahoot as much as the next teacher, but they do have their limitations. Sometimes I want a review activity that has a little more conceptual heft. And sometimes I need to mix things up so it’s not “all Kahoots all day”. I’ve used cloze reading activities in the past, so it was an easy pivot to make them into a review activity.
A good starting place to make a cloze reading activity is the supplemental materials that are commonly published with textbooks.* The book we use, Biology by Miller and Levine, includes summaries of each textbook section. I adapt those by using the parts of the section we covered, and then add information from other activities (including labs or class notes). Once you have the basic text, you strategically replace words or phrases with blanks. Many times, I will remove a vocabulary word but also add some context clues so students have to understand the meaning of the vocabulary word to correctly fill in the blank.
You can use a cloze reading activity at any point in an instructional unit, but I like to save them for review days. By that time, we’ve covered the content through reading, note-taking, labs, and formative assessments. Using the cloze reading is a form of retrieval practice. As I tell my students, “The information is in your brain already, you just have to teach your brain how to find it.”
And of course, kids love review games. I pair students, usually with their table partner, and have them set their notebooks on the table for easy access. I set this review up as a race – partners work together to fill in the blanks, and the first group to correctly complete the reading gets a prize. (I usually give prizes to second place winners as well.) By working with a partner, students who are less confident in their knowledge still have a good shot at winning.
I hand out the reading by placing it face-down in front of each group, telling students to leave the paper face down until I get all of them handed out. And then it’s “Ready . . . Set . . . GO!” While they’re furiously working, I am at my desk with the answer key. As a group finishes, they come up and I mark any blanks that are incorrect and send them back to keep working. If multiple groups are finished, they form a line at my desk so I can check their papers in order.
Once winners are declared, I project the answer key – all students are expected to complete a reading worksheet and glue it in their notebook. I also ask students to reflect on how well they knew the answers and use that reflection to plan their study time. I can also take questions to clarify any knowledge gaps or misunderstandings.
In my experience with this review activity, all students are engaged to the very end. And it only takes ten minutes, so I can do other review activities during the same class period. I also send a blank copy (and the answer key) to our Center for Student Success so the teachers there can use it to review with students who have a CSS period (supported study hall).
*I can’t include a sample, since the worksheets I make are derived in large part from copyrighted textbook materials.