Fill in the Gaps

Fill in the gaps supports students to review assessment data and set goals for improvement over two days in which they work to fill the gaps
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About This Strategy

Fill in the gaps is a strategy in which students review their own formative assessment data in order to assess their strengths and weaknesses, and then set goals for improvement in their personalized work plan over the course of the two days. This strategy enables students to have additional practice time to fill in the gaps in their learning. 

Implementation Steps

30 minutes
  1. Based on the unit assessment, create a "fill in the gaps" self-assessment form for students to use when reviewing their data. See the example in the resource section. Create review activities for the skills as well as challenge activities.

  2. After an assessment, have students reflect on their data. Students complete the self-assessment form reviewing the skills and what percentage they earned on that particular skill. Students also reflect on their areas of strength and areas of growth.

  3. Once students have completed the self-assessment reflection, they identify the activities they must complete for remediation or for extension. Students document these activities in the work plan.

  4. When students complete an activity, they check it off of their work plan.

  5. After engaging in "fill in the gaps" for two days, have students reflect and identify mistakes they have overcome and standards or concepts in which they have grown.

Fill in the Gaps For Distance Learning

Veronica Freeman
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Fill in the Gaps for distance learning is an excellent way for students to work asynchronously on skills and topics they need reinforced. Once students identify their areas of growth, teachers can also set up synchronous sessions of small groups with common needs. 

Implementation steps:

  1. Use an online assessment to gather and share data with students. If the tool you select, does not provide data and feedback, use email to share results with students. 

    • Google Forms allows you to create assessments in survey form. Depending on the type of questions, students can receive a score and immediate feedback based on their responses. 

    • Socrative provides immediate feedback, can be administered in real-time, and includes pre-made quizzes

    • Goformative shares answers immediately after responding, can be completed both asynchronously and synchronously.

  2. Create a resource of activities for the skills and challenge activities.

    • Padlet Grid and Shelf Style can organize links to activities in one place.

    • Prepare a playlist or assigned set of activities aligned to each topic or standard. These can be assigned after students complete the self-assessment and have identified what topics they would like to reinforce.   Examples include Deck Toys and Problem Attic. 

    • In a document organized by topics and skills, embed hyperlinks to activities that students may choose from.  BetterLesson's "Hyperdoc Pathway to Mastery" strategy provides guidance on how to do this well. 

  3. Select a tool to share a self-assessment form with students. This tool should be accessible and editable by students, so they may update their progress. 

    • In a Google Doc, create a self-assessment form where students can fill in their scores or place an 'x' next to each skill to track their progress. Give students edit access to this document. Create a copy for each student.

  4. Designate time for students to work on their identified areas of need and challenges. You may share this in weekly announcements, identify due dates within your LMS, or block out synchronous sessions for students to use as co-working time.

    • Invite small groups of students working on the same skills to a synchronous meeting for instruction.

    • Use Calendly so that students can set up appointments for one on one coaching with the teacher.

  5. When students have had about a week to engage in "fill the gaps", have students submit a reflection to identify the mistakes they have overcome and areas of growth.

    • Students can comment directly in their own self-assessment Google Doc, where they highlight the concepts they have worked on. They can include links to completed activities as a demonstration of their growth.

    • A Google Form may also be used. Create a set of reflection questions for students to respond to. They may include links to their self-assessment form and completed activities. 

  6. At this point, teachers may choose to provide the option to be assessed again. The "Battling the Boss" strategy in the BetterLesson Lab provides guidance in cultivating student agency over this decision. 

Special Education Modification

Nedra MassenburgDEMO
Special Education Specialist

Activities like Fill in the Gaps support students with disabilities by providing a safe, structured opportunity to develop reflection and assessment skills, to help them identify both areas of success and growth needed in a lesson.

Using a task like Fill in the Gaps to help students reflect,  self-assess, and practice skills requires significant executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.) and written expression skills.  In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty with independent, multi-step reflection activities, and/or written expression consider the following modifications:


  1. Use structured handouts (such as the attached resource) that help students with task initiation as well as provide clear benchmarks (bolded words, bulleted lists) to assess task completion.  See an example in the resource section below.
  2. Use visual timers and verbal reminders for each part of the Fill in the Gaps process to help students with task initiation and task completion. As an example, a teacher may say, “Now you will have five minutes to complete the self-assessment chart on page one of today’s Fill in the Gap activity.  After the timer for five minutes goes off, I will ask everyone to make sure they move on to the reflection questions on page two of the handout.”

  3. For students who struggle with written expression, provide sentence stems visuals for their reflection responses.

  4. For students who struggle greatly overall on assessments (usually less than 50% mastery on an assessment), consider narrowing their reflection areas to a few high leverage areas to reduce anxiety and increase the productivity of remediation.  For example, a teacher may have a student just focus on three major areas for remediation practice on a topic rather than all five areas they showed less than 80% mastery in.

  5. The first few rounds of Fill in the Gaps usage in a learning setting should end with specific verbal and written feedback from the teacher to the whole class on level of mastery in their reflection and remediation in order to ensure all students, and especially students with disabilities have clear benchmarks for exemplar work.     As an example, a teacher may say “I noticed that four students immediately took out their notes to use as a reference when they started their remediation practice.  I’m now going to give everyone one minute to take out their notes so they can have them as a reference.”

EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

The Fill in the Gaps strategy supports English learners in reflecting on success and setting goals for improvement, important academic skills for learners to develop. English learners benefit from taking ownership over their learning in a formal, yet scaffolded way. 

English learners need to listen to, read and follow directions in order to engage in this strategy. Learners are required to respond to reflection questions in writing. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:


  1. Ensure English learners understand all components of self-assessment, reflection and planning templates, and activities, e.g., ask for learners to restate directions at each stage of the process before they get to work. Consider partnering with learners’ language specialist to preview and orient to templates and/or activities for learners at lower levels of proficiency. Review the "Question Stems for Teachers by Learning Level" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Provide alternative or modified templates as needed, e.g., if English learners participated in alternative or modified assessments from which student data is being used, ensure that the templates English learners use align with their particular assessment. For more information, see the "Formative Assessments for ELLs" resource in the resource section below.
  3. Provide sentence stems for responses to reflection questions.

  4. Prepare alternative or familiar activities as needed. For instance, if English learners have been using a modified or accommodated version of a particular challenge activity previously, they should continue to use those modifications or accommodations. 

Tech Tools


  • Quizizz is a free platform that allows you to assign self-paced and self-scored quizzes to students. You can easily add gifs to the questions, and students can complete a quizizz when they feel ready to prove mastery, even if the rest of the class is not.

  • Quizizz supports Fill in the Gaps by providing an easy and fun way for students to show mastery, at their own pace, of skills they had identified as gaps needing to be filled before the activity started. Teachers don't have to score all these mini-assessments but they can see visualize progress and give feedback.


  1. Gooru is a search tool for online lessons and learning activities. Teachers can use Gooru to find curated content organized by subject or standard. Teachers can create collections for their students to view in a specific order.

  2. This tool supports Fill in the Gaps by enabling teachers to easily organize resources for each skill students are reviewing. It can also help teachers organize resources for students, since students will be working on different activities based on their individual needs