Name of Strategy: Missing Words

  • Rationale:
• Missing Words is a strategy I chose because I want my students to think about what they are reading. Missing Words forces them to think about what word(s) fits and makes sense in the sentence or passage. I also want them to practice using context clues to help them decode or find the meanings of words they do not know. My students often do not have good word attack skills or well developed vocabularies.
  • Courses in which it could be implemented:
• Reading—this is exactly the Guess the Covered word activity from Patricia Cunningham. I use this every week to help students practice their word attack skills. I will often use their word wall words in passages.
• Science and Social Studies—students can be given a passage about a given topic with some of the vocabulary missing. They have to read the passage and put in what they think the missing words are.

  • Diverse learners:
• Missing Words is a strategy that is good for any student because it forces them to think about what they are reading. It helps them practice word attack skills if done like Patricia Cunningham recommends (which for 3rd grade is a good strategy to use). As described in A Handbook of Content Literacy Strategies, Missing Words forces students to think about the content vocabulary they could use in the passage to make the passage make sense. They are thinking about what the passage means.
  • Procedure:
1. Have students pair off by each student pulling a different colored piece of paper from a cup. Those children who have the same colored paper are partners. You should have enough colors for the number of partners you want to have.*
2. Present a passage about a topic with blanks for some of the vocabulary words.
3. Have students think about what they already know about the topic they will be reading about. Discuss.
4. Tell students to read the passage with a partner once through.
5. Tells students to read the passage a second time, this time thinking about what words would make sense in the blanks. Have students write those words in the blanks as they read, make sure both partners agree.
6. Have students read their passage with the words filled in to themselves to check that it makes sense to them.
7. Share passages with the class. Discuss if the words each pair chose make sense in the passage.
8. Share the passage with the correct vocabulary with the class and discuss.

*This can also be giving glues as to the beginning letters of the missing words (ala Patricia Cunningham’s “Guess the Covered Word.”


  • Potential Issues:
• Some students may get frustrated if the passage is not at a level they can comfortably read. I would probably several different copies of the passage at different reading levels or try to pair stronger readers with weaker readers. This may be done as a whole class activity where I would pull sticks with names in order to insure whole class participation.