I know that many of you who regularly read this blog are engaged in one way or another in trying to turn the vision of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence into practical reality in schools and classrooms across Scotland, whether you are a class teacher or a school manager or working to support teachers in some capacity. If you are currently struggling with what a 21st century curriculum might look like, how you might organise the school day more efficiently, how young people prefer to learn, how learning could be more collaborative or more active or more relevant or more contextualised, how you might make use of new technologies, how you might involve the local community more, or what young people think ‘learning the basics’ means, you could do a lot worse than listen to this group of youngsters describing what learning in the 21st century means to them. They aren’t Scottish, and I’m pretty sure they won’t be aware of Curriculum for Excellence, but for me they are describing almost perfectly the spirit of the authors of that curriculum blueprint. They are from Ringwood School in Hampshire, which just happens to be the school where a good friend of mine, Andy Wallis, has recently been appointed Subject Leader in Media Studies. Excellent news for Andy, and as those of you who know Andy will agree, very good news for the school. This was ringwoodmedia‘s entry for the ESSA Manifesto for Change Competition in 2009.
One of the most popular activities in schools for developing reading comprehension, is what is known as ‘cloze procedure’, where students are given a piece of written text with a number of words deleted, and using the context clues and their knowledge of syntax, they have to decide on the most appropriate words to fit in the spaces. Most teachers of literacy are familiar with the idea, but I wonder how many realise that the term ‘cloze’ derives from ‘closure’, comes from the Gestalt theory of the psychology of the brain – often described in simple terms as ‘the whole being greater than the sum of its parts’ – and dates back to 1953.
Until now it has been time-consuming to construct these exercises, but not any more, thanks to the ingenious Cloze Test Creator, which allows you to create your own cloze reading texts in minutes, and gives you the flexibility of deleting the kind of words you want to test. I am indebted to Aniya (aka The English Teacher) for bringing this to my attention, and to Jeffrey Hill, an English teacher at the Normandy Business School in Le Havre, from whose wonderful The English Blog I unashamedly ‘borrowed’ it. Watch this short video tutorial and you will see how simple it is.