Cognitive toolkits

Cognitive toolkits and their practical uses

On the Foundations page, we have described a set of cognitive tools, organized in two toolkits, that we may engage to evoke, stimulate, and develop literacy so that students can use it well. The first set of “cognitive tools” is more prominent in younger children beginning to learn literacy, and the second set is more prominent for older students, say around six years to twelve, as they make progress in mastering literacy. The second set is also more suitable for teaching illiterate adults. There is a link from each tool in the lists below so you can explore the various ways you can make each of these tools into potent practical helpers in teaching and learning literacy in everyday classrooms and homes.

Cognitive tools used in first learning literacy

Cognitive tools used in beginning literacy

Changing contexts
Extremes and limits

Seeing knowledge in terms of human qualities –– recognize that all knowledge is human knowledge, and a product of someone’s hopes, fears, and passions, and so make the world opened by literacy more full of rich meanings

Personalizing narratives

Collecting things or a developing a hobby –– the urge to securely grasp some feature of reality can stimulate many literacy activities

The sense of wonder

Can capture the imagination in the worlds, both real and fictional, that literacy opens up

Associating with the heroic

Gives confidence and enables students take on in some degree the qualities of the heroes with whom they associate