Information gap activities are those in which students exchange information to complete a required lesson plan activity.
Most information gap activities are done in pairs, each student having a piece of information. They are especially effective when used as vocabulary activities during the pre-reading portion of a reading lesson, but can also be applied to reading comprehension and math activities.
For example, this strategy can be used to teach new vocabulary from a passage that students have not yet read. Student A would have the vocabulary words written on slips of paper and Student B would have the definitions of those words. Working together, they match words and definitions to learn new vocabulary.
Information gap activities, like the example below, work like vocabulary lessons after students have already found the vocabulary in the text.
The teacher and/or the class prepare 2 lists of about 20 items. List A contains people and animals. List B contains objects. The objective is to combine a word from List A with one from List B. Example: What can a/an A do with a/a B? Why does a/an A need a/a B? Students create a list of combinations.
Or, Student A has pictures of newly introduced words, and Student B has the corresponding words. When combined correctly they create an interesting shape.
The same principles of the information gap activities can also be applied to the math lesson. Student A measures triangles of various sizes while Student B measures circles of various sizes. Together, they answer questions that relate to their relationship with each other.
reading comprehension activities
An information gap activity can also be used as a main reading assignment when students need to share information they read from an assigned passage. An especially effective information gap activity is a puzzle reading, which is a type of activity that is usually done in groups. In a puzzle reading, the teacher can use academic texts or texts from the students’ textbook.
In the traditional puzzle reading method, the teacher divides a text into sections and assigns each group a section to read. Each group is responsible for understanding their part. New groups are then formed with one member from each previous team. The new groups now have a representative from each section and each can share what they understood from their part of the text. Students can then write a summary of the text or answer questions about the full text.
How an information breach activity should be structured
Also consider the following main topics in your lesson plans:
* Purpose: What is the purpose of the activity? For example, is the purpose to introduce, reinforce, use, or bridge the gap between letters and their corresponding sounds? Or is the purpose to reinforce the words and their meanings?
* Organization: Who is in control, the class or the teacher? Once you develop the necessary classroom management skills, you will be able to effectively implement information gap activities.
* Lesson duration: The time element must be considered. How long will this activity take?
* Skill level: Consider the ability of the class, homogeneous or heterogeneous groupings, and accommodations such as a backup plan when students are unable to perform the activity as planned.
* Materials and procedures: What is needed for the lesson? How the teacher will present the information gap activities.
* Who? The level of the students including ability and grade.
* What? What is the context of your information breach activity?
*I eat? Through which new points will the main competencies be introduced? Example: Will students need to read a passage containing the new words before matching the words and their corresponding definitions in pair work?
Possible problems when using an activity in an information vacuum
What if your lesson didn’t go as planned? A potentially well-planned information gap lesson can backfire due to neglect of one of the major planning issues (see above).
Classroom management is often the reason information breach activities don’t go as planned. It is therefore worth investing time in classroom management principles before implementing any information breach activities.
Information gap activities are easy for the teacher to recycle previously taught information. Some will take longer to implement, but it’s an investment well worth the effort.