Surprise: Structure Strip

Do you know structure strips? I didn’t until I met a wonderful person who explained the concept to me. I learned that when students write texts, they often struggle with the proportions of the text’s sections. For example, the introduction might become as long as the main part. On paper (literally), structure strips can help.

Let’s say, an introduction should roughly take up 20 % of a text, the main part should span 60 %, the conclusion 20 %. Then a teacher could prepare a paper strip that’s divided into these three sections, where each sections takes up the required percentage of the strip’s full length. If students now put this paper strip next to a piece of paper, they now can see how much space a section should cover in relation to the others. In addition, the teacher could add some information to the section on the strip, e.g. what details must be covered or what to pay attention to in particular.

While this method seems to be pretty useful, doing it on paper comes with at least one problem: Students cannot simply change the length of their text. Once they have used up all the space for a section, they can’t add missing information or remove parts that are less important and could be spared in order to stay within the desired proportions.

H5P to the rescue!

I bet by now you can already guess where this is headed at: I have created a new content type for H5P in my free time. It allows you to create digital structure strips. ‘Structure Strip’ is not completely done, but the finishing touches should not take forever. It will look and feel something like this:

The virtual strip sections will either be next to each text input field or above them if there’s not enough horizontal space, e.g. on mobile devices. Students can write their text sections, and on clicking “check”, they will receive feedback on each sections’ length. Of course, there’s some slack that you can define, so students won’t have to hit a particular percentage precisely. There’s also a “live” mode that teachers can choose, so the feeback will be displayed within the section while students are typing instead of them having to click on the check button. Eventually, if the exercise is not supposed to be a self-assessment only, students can copy the complete text into the clipboard using a dedicated button and paste it somewhere else.

What’s missing before Structure Strip is released?

While everything is working fine, the user experience will become nicer thanks to the feedback I received from Jelena who works at Joubel.

mockup of a section of the structure content type

If teachers give hints for a section, the section may become quite large and so will the overall form. That’s why it will be possible to hide the hints and require the students to click on the question mark symbol shown after the section title. The hints will then show in a popup.

The sections will get some visual representation of how close the section text is to being complete. That’s the bar that you can see at the top of the image above.


And that’s it … The source code will be openly licensed as usual, so you can customize it as you like or add features that you think are missing – or you might want to hire me to do that for you, of course 😉

Pick the Symbols!

One of the great things about H5P is the possibility to improve it. If you require a content type for a certain task, you can code it. If you can’t code, you can still take the initiative, look for funding and then hire someone. That’s exactly what the “Schule Bubendorf” (school Bubendorf) did! Even better: The new H5P content type named “Pick the Symbols” is openly available. Here it is!

As a teacher, all you have to do is to enter a text and to decide which punctuation marks the students should pick from to complete the sentences – or symbols in general as this option has been left open intentionally. The rest is done by the content type. It will present you and your student with an exercise like the one above.

There are some things you can tweak. For example, you can change the background color of the blanks. Furthermore, you can increase the difficulty if there are consecutive blanks (e.g. in direct speech) and you don’t put in all the blanks up front. The students will have to add the missing ones on their own. And if you like, you can also make sure that all blanks are reset after checking.

It’s intended to publish the content type in the official H5P Content Type Hub, but the H5P core team will have to find some time to review the code first. If you want to use Pick the Symbols now, you (or your admin) can download the the sample content above, upload it to your platform, and then you’re good to go.

Of course, the source code is available as well:

It’s your turn!

You want to support some H5P development? But you cannot code, and you also don’t want to start your own fundraising campaign? Then toss a coin to Schule Bubendort. They collect donations in order to be able to mandate someone (not necessarily me!) to create more content types.

Idea #1: “Highlight the Words”

Teachers can define word categories and color associated with the categories, assign them to words of a text, and the students will have to mark the words with the colors similar to Pick the Symbols.

Idea #2: “Spreadsheet”
Teachers can define a table with numbers, text and blanks – and the students will have to fill in the blanks inside the table correctly.

So, please feel free to transfer some exchange money using the subject H5P-Entwicklung to

  • Recipient: Schule Bubendorf
  • IBAN: CH35 0076 9020 2108 8389 6

If you have any questions regarding donations, please contact Ueli Nick directly. He’s the headmaster of Schule Bubendorf (

Kindergarten und Primarschule Rektorat
Krummackerstrasse 18
CH-4416 Bubendorf

A new playground: H5P Essay

Note: You can download the content type here, but remember that it is still in development and might not work perfectly.

What you’re looking at here is rather an experimental playground than a fully elaborated content type for H5P. Learners can write a text and receive feedback immediately. Initially (and maybe finally), this feedback will simply be based on a list of keywords that have been defined by a teaching person before. That’s a very naive approach, but it might be useful in some cases or could support teachers with grading.

The content type could possibly evolve into a solution for automated essay scoring using machine learning techniques — with all the pros and cons attached to that. However, that’s merely wishful thinking right now anyway.

You are hereby invited to have a look at the ideas for this content type — and to share your own, of course!

If you want to know more (and also want to see the editor), have a look at this video although it’s outdated already.

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