The purpose of this activity is for learners to interact using sentences to find out missing information. Information gap activities provide an opportunity for an extended spoken exchange that represents real communication and to practice language they have already acquired. Working in pairs, both students have information that the other needs. Partners ask and answer questions to fill “gaps” in the information they were provided. While information gap activities can be adjusted to work with small groups, using them with pairs ensures that each student maintains focus and receives a maximum amount of speaking time.
The teacher divides the class into pairs (or small groups).
The teacher gives each partner a different version of the handout (i.e., Partner A gets version A, Partner B gets version B).
The paired students take turns asking and answering questions and filling in the grid or blanks on their handouts.
The teacher can hold students accountable and collect feedback on their progress by randomly asking individual students for their answers at the conclusion of the activity.
Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning
1. The teacher divides the class into pairs (or small groups), displaying Partner A and Partner B on the screen.
2. The teacher gives each partner a different version of the digital handout (i.e., Partner A gets version A, Partner B gets version B). This can be done by sharing links to each version (created using Google Docs, Google Slides, etc.) in the chat.
3. The teacher puts pairs/groups in breakout rooms with a time limit.
4. Partners take turns asking and answering questions and filling in the grid or blanks on their digital handouts.
5. The teacher can hold students accountable and collect feedback on their progress by randomly asking individual students for their answers at the conclusion of the activity.
This activity can be used to practice interpersonal speaking or interpersonal writing (typing information back and forth in a chat, Jamboard, Google doc, etc.)
Before asking students to do an information gap, consider modeling the activity with the whole class, with the whole class taking the B role and the teacher taking the A role.
Remind students to ask questions to get the information they need to fill the "gap", not just show each other their handouts.
If you have an odd number of students, have two As or Bs in one pair and ask them to take turns asking and answering questions.
This activity can be more or less scaffolded, depending on when in a learning progression it is conducted. Below are two variations of this activity with different levels of scaffolding/support:
Model 1: Teachers design two versions of a handout in which Partner A receives half of the information and Partner B receives the other half of the information. Partner A and B must communicate to exchange information so that by the end of the activity, they both have a complete set of information. In this scaffolded version, the handouts include question starters and response starters as well as visual or text cues to indicate the appropriate question or answer. Teachers typically provide a grid to structure the activity and cues and to make sure that students are actually asking for and understanding the information their partner gives them. Teachers can hold each pair accountable by asking students questions from both the A & B handouts
Model 2: This version still requires students to interact to get information from a partner, but with minimal scaffolding, open-ended questions, and possibly an interpretive resource as the basis for the conversational exchange. Students can also communicate with each other to solve a problem set out by the teacher, complete a task, or exchange opinions.
Use Model 1 (see helpful tips above) and differentiate the amount of scaffolding based on student proficiency.
If using Model 2 (see helpful tips above), insert scaffolding (for example, a question starter and response starter) for the group of students who need more support.
Print handouts or create digital handouts to share, making sure that each handout lacks information that the other contains.
For a more scaffolded version of the activity: Include key question response sentence frames on each A & B handout.