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14 Cognitive Elements of Reading

Reading Assessment Techniques

Research Evidence

Using the Framework



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Instructional Resources - Literary References

Instructional Resources - Instructional Activities
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Instructional Resources Database: Instructional Activities

This collection of instructional strategies has been collected to support the Cognitive Framework of Reading and to assist teachers in instructional decision-making for grades K-2.


Current research suggests that teachers who are effective and deliberate in planning and implementing instruction designed to meet the varied needs of the children in their classroom can have a substantial impact on their children's reading achievement. It is important for teachers to understand what is to be learned, how much progress each student has made in their learning, and what the teacher can do to enhance each student's progress.

To facilitate this understanding, the RCI team has developed a suite of products designed to address this three-part relational need of

The Cognitive Framework of Reading

The Cognitive Framework of Reading was designed to provide a point of reference and facility for connecting cognition, instruction, and assessment. It depicts the knowledge domains that a child must master to successfully learn to read English. The framework consists of 14 elements laid out hierarchically-at the apex is reading comprehension. Underlying reading comprehension are two equally important elements-the ability to understand language and the ability to decode text. Both language comprehension and decoding are comprised of a collection of fundamental cognitive structures that have been shown to be essential for good readers.

Understanding the cognitive framework of reading is meaningful but it is also essential for teachers to be comfortable with assessing early reading skills and for teachers to have access to a selection of meaningful activities. Hence, the cognitive framework by itself is not as useful for teachers as it is when combined with information about assessment and instructional resources.

Use of Assessment to Inform Practice

Children are constructors of their own knowledge and their development may be uneven and comparatively different from child to child. Therefore, the ability to assess and respond to the instructional needs of individual students is a basic understanding of the cognitive processes involved in reading. A teacher who understands the elements that underlie and embody skilled reading is able to assess relevant strengths and needs in a child's acquisition of reading skills.

Included in the instructional resources database are specific tasks that teachers can use as an informal assessment of their student's strengths or weaknesses related to a particular element of the framework. You will also find that you can use many of the activities as quick assessments of your student's abilities.

In addition, you may access our on-line Reading Assessment Database for more information about published assessments available in the U.S. The search engine allows you to search for assessments that meet certain criteria such as grade level, the language in which the test is administered, and subtests within the assessment.

RCI is also developing a Literacy Profile that will be web accessible and available for reproduction. The profile allows you to keep an on-going record of student's progress on the 14 elements of the framework in an organized fashion. You will find that key skills can be measured and placed in relation to other skills. As the pieces fall into place, you will see patterns emerge that indicate areas of strength and need for each child.

The Instructional Resources Database

Once a process is in place for looking at early reading skill, teachers can identify and implement appropriate curriculum and teaching strategies that can address the identified difficulties their children are experiencing. This database was designed to provide concrete examples of instructional activities that connect the 14 elements of the conceptual framework with actual classroom practice.

Activities were selected based on their:

  1. correlation to the cognitive framework of reading,
  2. applicability for mainstream and English as a second language classrooms, and
  3. utility in the classroom.

Many of the selections can also be adapted for bilingual classrooms. Some of these activities apply to one element, but you will find that many overlap and apply to several of the elements. These activities represent only one of many possible ways to proceed. These suggestions can and should be modified to fit individual student needs.

Resources in this Database

Activities for this collection were constructed from teaching experiences as well as adapted from published resources. You will find a complete list of the resources used to organize these activities on-line. Teachers should look at these resources for additional examples.

How to Use the Instructional Resources Database

We have designed a simple search interface that allows you to search the database for specific parameters that are of particular interest to you (e.g. certain elements or certain grade levels) or you can simply browse the entire database, to view all of the activities.

We hope you find this database informative and useful in your endeavors to facilitate literacy acquisition for all children.

Archived Resource

The resources listed on this website are from a past project. The Reading Assessment Database and external links have not been updated since 2009.

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