Happy Friday, all!
I finally have the time to put up an English tip after returning from my church camp over the weekend. Before I share today's tip, I would like to say a big "thank you" to all of you who have dropped by as we officially have more than 1000 visitors!
Knowing that the tips have helped others keeps me writing in joy so please share the tips on facebook or at forums, leave us any comments or subscribe if you like what has been put up thus far. Thank you for your patience if you have been checking this humble little blog for a new tip this week. Here it is!
5 Steps to Convert a Newspaper Article into a Cloze Passage
If you are to take a look at the end of the passages used for comprehension cloze in the examination papers, you will realise that other than story book titles, newspapers and magazines (such as Reader's Digest and National Geographic etc.) often appear as the sources of these passages too.
There is no denial that using English in an authentic manner is so important and this is clearly reflected in the choice of passages used in school examinations. The good news is that these authentic resources can be readily accessed from the internet and I would like to share about how these articles can be transformed into cloze passages easily.
Where can you find these articles online?
Some news websites that I tap on frequently include The Straits Times and Channel News Asia as they cover local and international news. Of course, international news publishers such as BBC and The New York Times are fine too but do take note of the countries which the newspaper is published in. News articles which use American English (AmE) will require educators and parents to highlight to their children the difference in spelling (e.g. colour vs. color) between the Amercian English and British English (BrE) systems. Since our education system uses the BrE system, it is crucial for us to reinforce to our children spelling using the said system for assessment.
Recently, I downloaded an app, News-O-Matic, which publishes interesting world news pitched at a suitable level for children. It is similar to "What's Up" newspaper for children that we have in school but is more convenient as it can be accessed on a mobile device easily. Although News-O-Matic uses AmE, its benefits outweighs this consideration and I am a fan of this app. (Perhaps I will do an App-y Thursday Review of it soon!)
How do you Use these Passages to Practise Comprehension Cloze?
1. Prepare the Article
Extensive and enjoyable reading can be done for other articles or storybooks but we want the reading of these particular articles chosen for practice to be purposeful. Copy and paste the article onto a Word document so that you can bold or highlight a few new vocabulary or phrases that often occur together. These will be the items that you want your children to take note of and learn.
For certain words or phrases, I will find out the meaning and insert it at the side in brackets (as seen above) in order to aid my pupils in understanding the passage better. For other new words and phrases, I will speak aloud and model using contextual clues to find the answers.
2. Blank Words in the Article
This is the fun part.
You can either blank out the the words that you have highlighted (or one word, if you have highlighted a phrase) or other words in the passage which you would like to revise even if they were not highlighted. Any word (Any grammatical item: adjective, pronoun, vocabulary...) can possibly be tested but it is crucial that the blank has contextual clues that will aid the doers in solving the question. Common items that are tested for cloze passage can be phrasal verbs (e.g. put ____(out) a fire), adjectives (a ____(challenging) task), nouns (gripping the ____(handle) of the broom tightly) etc. However, take note not to test your children on names of people and places.
If the article is too long, you may select just one short paragraph and have five blanks in it. There is no pressure to create a full length cloze passage like the ones in the examinations. Bite-sized learning may be more effective at times.
3. Print the Article for Reading
Now that your materials are ready, it is time for your children to read. Alternatively, your children can read off the computer screen and type any definitions they have found beside the highlighted words or phrases.
It will be even better if you can read with your children. Even if you are not confident of your language abilities, reading with them shows them support and offers opportunity for discussion and deeper understanding about the article.
4. Attempt the Cloze Passage
After reading the article and going through the highlighted words, it is time for your child to give the cloze passage a go.
If you are expecting your child to remember every single word, you will be disappointed. Most people read for content and do not pay that much attention to the language features. Hence, the cloze practice will be helpful in highlighting the language used. At the same time, as the children are already familiar with the content, they will be able to focus clearly on the language and make use of the contextual clues more effectively.
5. Mark the Answers (and Retry)
After your children have completed the cloze practice, mark with your child using the original article. If your children have not done well, this will be a good chance to focus on the clues and language again. Usually, I will have my children who have made mistakes to redo the same cloze passage in the following lesson. This helps ensure that they have learnt and builds up their confidence when they see an improvement. Lastly, it allows them to recognise that their effort put in to preparation will pay off.
Below is a sample of a newspaper article and the cloze passage I have created. It is suitable for P4 to P6 children. However, do bear in mind that depending on the difficulty of the article, cloze passages of different difficulty levels can be set by choosing different words to blank out.
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Do you have any interesting cloze passage practice ideas to share? Leave a comment below!