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Gap Fill Exercises – Reviewing the answers with PowerPoint

Whether you love them or hate them, gap fill exercises seem to be everywhere.

If you are teaching from a course book you are always going to come across a gap fill exercise.

If you are teaching using music, you may come across a gap fill exercise asking students to complete the lyrics.

If you are taking a language proficiency test you may be using practice papers that ask you to put the correct conjugation of the verb into the gap.

If you have downloaded any language learning apps, the chances are some of the activities within them are going to be based on the gap fill exercise.

There are many ways to spice up a gap fill exercises.

You could try tearable sentences, which was my version of Peter Pun’s idea.

Or using QR codes, which was something Martin Sketchley wrote about recently here, and something I tried and felt that it was a success in the classroom. I mention about it in this post.

Information Gathering exercises and running dictations also work really well to lift a gap fill exercise off the page.

I don’t want to talk about these ideas too much, they are perhaps a post for another day. What I want to discuss is giving feedback.

Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is an important part of any activity. There is no reason why the teacher should just read out the answers when you can elicit them from the students.

After your students have peer checked their answers and you have elicited them, the next step is to present the answers so the students can check for grammar and spelling mistakes. For example the ‘S’ in the third person conjugation can be missed if it isn’t clearly emphasized. What you hear and what the students say aren’t always the same thing.

So, today I wanted to talk about using PowerPoint to give feedback after a recent comments section conversation with Sandy Millin.

I asked Sandy what she thought new teachers would like to learn about PowerPoint and she thought that a refresher about the basics would be useful.

David Dodgson wrote a post back in 2010 called Getting the most out of PowerPoint. He wrote about using PowerPoint for gap fill exercises, and over the years, I have often used PowerPoint as a way of reviewing the answers in the classroom. It could be considered as one of the basic uses of PowerPoint in the classroom.

So, I produced five videos that explain how you can reveal the answers to gap fill exercises on a PowerPoint slide.

I hope they will be useful for anyone who uses PowerPoint in the classroom.


Appearing Text

The most common technique is to write out the answers on the slide and using an animation like appear, fade, zoom or wipe to reveal the answers one at a time. Watch the demo video for more information.

Video run time: 49 seconds

Moving Text

This technique takes words from a list and moves them one by one into the correct gap. This uses a motion animation called line and if you move the end point of the animation to the correct gap, the words will follow that motion path. Watch the demo video for more information.

Video run time: 1 minute 47 seconds

Disappearing Boxes

This technique is useful for authentic material, scans or images where you can’t remove the words easily. Draw a box over the word that you want to hide and then apply a clear or fade animation to make the boxes disappear one by one, revealing the answers. Watch the demo video for more information.

Video run time: 48 seconds

Live Text

This technique is useful for typing the answers directly onto your PowerPoint during the presentation. I like this technique because the students can see that their answers, and their ideas form part of the class. Go to the developer ribbon and insert a textbox (activeX control). Watch the demo video for more information or visit this page.

This option may not available to Mac users. The Developer ribbon is available on the Mac version of PowerPoint, the ActiveX controls aren't.

Video run time: 1 minute 25 seconds

The Pen Tool

This technique is only really useful if you have a touch screen computer or digital pen. You can use a mouse but it is more difficult to write neatly. This technique would be useful for anyone who uses an iPad, a Surface or an android tablet in the classroom, or if they have a classroom computer with touchscreen technology.

Video run time: 58 seconds

Leave a comment on the site if you have any other tips about gap fill exercises, or if you have the next suggestion for a PowerPoint refresher.

Alternatively you can send me a message on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and take care!

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