How to make a reading comprehension with textivate

A simple How-to guide for making a variety of reading comprehension exercises on textivate.

1. Start by adding a text

Clear the text box on the textivate home page by clicking on the "New" icon. 

Then, in the "Text" box, type or paste in the text for your reading comprehension. e.g.:

2. Add questions and correct answers as Match data

Then click the "Match" tab and add matching items (in this case questions and answers) separated by ==, with each new pair on a separate line, as in the image below:

3. Add additional wrong answers (optional)

You don't have to do this bit, especially if your main interest is in creating a reading comprehension where students type in the answers.

But it's a really good idea if you want to use a multiple choice reading comprehension, as it adds plausible but incorrect answers to your questions, making it more challenging than simply using answers for other questions as the incorrect alternatives.

To add incorrect answers, simply type a vertical bar and a hash like this |# after your correct answer, then add as many incorrect answers as you like, separated by #. See the example in the image below:

4. Add a parallel text (IMPORTANT)

In order to view the text and the questions on the same screen, you'll need to add a parallel text.

To do this, click on the "Extras" tab and click on the option to "Show main textivate text as parallel text for match activities"...

...and that's it!

This allows you to view your text in one pane and whichever match activity you choose in another pane.

5. Protect the resource (optional)

You may want to "protect" your resource so that students can't get access to the original text -- so they can't get the answers etc -- particularly if you are using a reading comprehension in a sequence as an assessment. To protect your resource, simply click the "Protected" check box, then save it. 

See this blog post about protected resources.

6. Get links for your activities *

To do this, you'll need to upload the resource as Shareable or Public.

Then go to the page of the MATCH activity that you want to get a link for. e.g. Multi Match (1in3, 1in4, 1in5, 1in10) or any of the Fill in the letters activities on the MATCH side.

On that page, click on the "text" icon at the top...

..., which will then display the two panes together, like this:

Then click on the share icon at the top right of the screen, and on the share box that appears, click the "Include extra text..." option, and click into the URL box and copy (ctrl+C or right-click + Copy) the url. (See image below)

7. Tweak your link url (IMPORTANT) *

To make sure that your exercise runs with the questions appearing in the correct order (rather than in random order, which is the default), simply add e1 to the end of the url. (URL tweaking and fine-tuning is explained in this blog post.)

Note that if you are linking to a sequence url, there's no need to tweak the url -- instead, make sure that you have set up the options for the activities correctly inside the sequence window.

* An alternative to steps 6 and 7 above for those with Basic subscriptions is simply to navigate to the exercise page, display the parallel text, and select the option to run the questions in their original order.

The result...

Here's the sort of thing you end up with (based on the above text):

  1. 1 in 4 multiple choice reading comprehension

  2. 1 in 10 multiple choice reading comprehension

  3. Write the answers reading comprehension

  4. Unscramble the answers (anagrams) reading comprehension
  5. A PROTECTED version of the above exercise (note the scrambled url format)

Some extra thoughts

You can still do all of the gap-filling, fill in the letters, tile and sequencing activities based on the text itself -- you are not limited to just the reading comprehension.

You can, of course, create a sequence based on a single reading comprehension activity, or based on several text-based activities combined with a reading comprehension to check understanding.

If doing a sequence as an assessment, or where the scores really matter, it's a good idea to protect the resource -- see step 5 above.

This is really cool...

See this example of an activity sequence which starts with a multiple choice reading comprehension, then sequencing, then tiles, then gap-fill, then fill in the answer reading comprehension.

(In case you're interested, I did this like this: (1) I created a sequence (as explained in this blog post); (2) I then navigated to one of the Match activities and clicked the "text" icon to view the text pane along with the activity;  (3) Then I clicked the "share" icon and selected both the "Link to sequence" box AND the "Include extra text..." box, and copied the url to make the above link.)

This is the same sequence protected.

    Good, eh?