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CRITICAL ANALYSIS USING CLEVER CLOZE
Monitoring and Assessment
Engagement: Empowering Teachers with Successful Strategies
The Critical Analysis Using Clever Cloze strategy involves students drawing on their understandings of the political nature of texts to deconstruct and then reconstruct texts from a particular ideological position.
Cloze passages have been used for many and varied reasons and as a result, practitioners have a wide range of views regarding the strategy’s relevance and effectiveness. In many cases, cloze has been used as both an assessment instrument to determine level of comprehension as well as an instrument to measure the reading levels of texts.
However, as well as an assessment instrument, cloze can be used as a teaching strategy to help students to engage with texts in meaningful ways. For example, cloze can be used to teach about cohesive elements in a text as well as to uncover and make explicit the bias evident in the text.
Critical literacy is an essential part of a comprehensive literacy program and focuses on the relationship between texts and the power relationships within society. That is, how do texts serve to naturalise and maintain existing power relations?
According to Barbara Comber (1993) critical literacy involves students:
Critical Analysis Using Clever Cloze then draws on cloze as an instructional strategy that allows students to engage with critical literacy principles.
For more information on Critical Literacy:
Engagement: Engaging Students in Purposeful Social Practices
Four Roles/Resources of the Reader
Based on the Four Roles/Resources of the Reader developed by Freebody and Luke (1990), the Critical Analysis Using Clever Cloze strategy involves students in the following repertoire of purposeful social practices:
Four Resources Guideposts
Critical Analysis Using Clever Cloze Guideposts provide a useful assessment tool.
Implementing the Strategy
Critical Analysis Using Clever Cloze using Middle East Conflict Texts
This is a generic strategy and can be used with a variety of texts dealing with a variety of subject matters. The strategy is best incorporated into a unit of work where students have a good background in the content area or on a topical contemporary issue where students have some understanding of the issues involved.
To scaffold reading of the articles from Why we’re on the side of justice, brainstorm with the students a range of issues that are related to the topic of the articles.
Sensitive handling of this discussion is required, particularly if the class includes students from Moslem and Jewish backgrounds.
If students are unaware of the structure of a persuasive exposition, there may be some need to revise the generic structure:
If you are using a different genre, especially narrative, there may be no need to revise the generic structure.
Form two groups of students and give each group a differing newspaper article from Why we’re on the side of justice. Distribute each article without discussing the view that the specific article is taking.
Ask students in groups to read and analyse the text and summarise under the headings of:
As an extension, students could also be asked to make some general observations and have a group discussion of the text around the following questions:
To help students focus on the particular words in the text that convey a certain point of view (lexical cohesion) ask the group to make a list of words that show either differing sides of the issue or the point of view that the article is taking. (Lexical cohesion refers to relationships between and among words in a text). Use Unequal Naming: the Gulf War 1991 as an example/model and then ask the group to complete the activity for the text that they have engaged with.
However, at this stage each group may only have ‘one side’ of the argument. Some texts that you will use will be in the genre of analytic exposition and will present multiple sides of an issue. In this case, the students may be able to develop opposing chairs.
There may be more than one lexical chain. Lexical chains may be constructed for the group of people and another for their actions as shown in Unequal Naming: the Gulf War 1991. Lexical chains group a series or string of words based on their lexical cohesion.
This more detailed type of analysis then allows another ‘layer’ in the reporting back. It allows the students to see that in one text a particular group is empowered while another group may be disempowered.
Through discussions between the two groups, students can discover that in another text the roles are reversed. Teachers may need to explicitly lead and scaffold this discussion.
Report back to the whole group.
Have a general discussion regarding similarities and differences. In the vocabulary analysis discussion put the two groups together to create the whole picture as in Unequal Naming: the Gulf War 1991 (which refers to relationships between and among words in a text).
As an extension, you may wish to replicate the activity shown in Naming the Enemy as Bad.
This Clever Cloze activity now allows students to bring the exploration and skills that they have developed in deconstructing these persuasive texts to reconstruct a piece of text from a particular point of view.
Provide each student with a copy of the Clever Cloze. This cloze passage has been constructed so that words have been omitted which carry any type of bias. Form two groups of students and assign them a role.
Allow them to either complete the cloze passage individually or in groups.
As a whole group, compare and contrast the words that were chosen by the groups. The focus is not so much on the words that were chosen but on the discussion around why those words were chosen by the group. What influenced the selection (and non-selection) of certain words?
Place the opposing insertions on a large sheet of paper to enable the students to compare and contrast.
While the cloze activity is an end in itself, it may be used as a lead in to other writing, particularly expository writing, and to analyses of texts in other media such as film, radio and the Internet.
Bodi, F. & Hitchens, P. (April 7, 2000). Why we’re on the side of justice in Sunday Mail. Queensland: News Limited.
Comber, B. (1993). Literacy and Social Justice in A. Reid and B. Johnson, Critical Issues in Australian Education in the 1990s. Adelaide: Painters Prints.
Education Queensland, Queensland and Brisbane Catholic Education Office. (1990). Further Literacy Inservice Project.
Janks, H. (1993). Language, Identity and Power. South Africa: Hodder and Stoughton.