New optional text activity: Trapdoor :)

If you open a text resource or type in some text in the text tab on the textivate edit screen, you'll see a new "Trapdoor" button. Click this to add a Trapdoor activity to your resource.

A Trapdoor activity is a multiple choice activity where students click their way through the options to (re-)build the text. It is called Trapdoor because if they get a section wrong, they fall through the trapdoor and they have to start again.

Two types of Trapdoor activity: Random & Fixed (Update November 2017)

1. Traditional Trapdoor : Random or "guessing game" mode:

Many language teachers will be familiar with Trapdoor as an activity done in class using a text with several multiple choice options, such that many different versions of the text can be created by selecting from the multiple choice options. In class, this is typically played as follows:

  1. The teacher selects a route through the text, making a note of his / her selected options.
  2. Students take turns to read the text, guessing at the options chosen by the teacher, and they continue until they make a wrong guess, at which point they fall through the trapdoor. It is then another student's turn to start again from the beginning, remembering the progress so far.
  3. The activity requires students to listen carefully, paying close attention to which answers are correct and which are wrong. It is also good speaking (at least pronunciation) practice. 

On textivate Trapdoor is similar when played in the default random (guessing game) mode. It is essentially a guessing game and a memory game combined. Students have to guess their way through a series of equally valid multiple choice options to rebuild a text. If they guess correctly, they proceed to the next option. BUT if they make a wrong guess, they fall through the Trapdoor, which means that they have to start again, remembering their progress so far as well as where they went wrong. They keep on playing until they reach the end of the text.

Each time textivate loads a Trapdoor activity, it picks a different random route through the multiple choice options that you have specified. (So it's important that all options are equally "correct".)

Traditional (guessing game) Trapdoor works best with short, simple texts, consisting essentially of a series of substitution tables, where most of the text has been turned into traps, preferably with no more than 10 or so traps in total. See the embedded example at the bottom of this post - a French "guessing game" trapdoor activity with 8 traps.

2. Fixed or "original text" mode:

In "original text" mode, the game is essentially the same as above, except that the correct answers are ALWAYS the options that come from your original text. This makes the activity a sort of sudden-death gap-fill activity with multiple options, rather than a guessing game, and it tests students' recall of the original text.

Creating "traps" in the text:

Select words in the text on the Trapdoor edit screen to create traps. Traps appear as ||-underlined-|| on the Trapdoor edit screen (and with ||-these symbols-|| around them on the textivate edit screen). Your traps can be based on single words or multiple words. (Click and drag to select multiple words.) 

Once you have made a trap, click on it to add your options (see image above). You need to add 1, 2 or 3 options. Remember that, if making a traditional "guessing game" Trapdoor activity, all options must be equally valid, because textivate selects a random route through your options each time the Trapdoor activity loads.

You need to have a minimum of 3 traps (each with 1 - 3 options) for your Trapdoor activity to be made available. 


1. Random / guessing game:

A short French text. All answers are equally valid. Students guess their way through the text.

Click below to access the activity. (Opens in a new window on touch devices.)
Click here to open the above activity in a new window.

2. Fixed / original text:

The same French text as above, but this time there is only one correct answer for each option. The others are grammatically incorrect or misspelt.

Click below to access the activity. (Opens in a new window on touch devices.)
Click here to open the above activity in a new window.

Additional thoughts...

Trapdoor in "guessing game" mode does not require students to make judgments based on correctness of grammar or vocabulary. It provides lots of repeated exposure to a simple, short text, and it tests students' memory.

In "original text" mode, however, you can choose to make activities where the "wrong" answers are either grammatically or factually incorrect, or which simply deviate from the information in the original text.

Also, in "original text" mode, you have the option of a Trapdoor-translation activity, with the L1 as a parallel text! In "guessing game" mode this is not possible because the "correct" text is different each time. See the screenshot below of a "trapdoor-translation" activity:

(And here is a link to the above activity.)

Let us know what you think.