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Development of Academic Skills


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- Reading comprehension may be the most important academic skill a child can acquire: as it allows them to learn, pursue interests and avoid boredom


Comprehension is divided into four components (Siegler & Alibali, 2005):


-         Lexical access

o       Identifying words and accessing their meanings from long-term memory

o       Example: reading the word “fork” and understanding that it is something that is used to eat with, usually having 2 or more prongs.

o       Other meanings? Pitch fork – work in garden or the field, fork in the road – when a road is divided into branches


-         Propositional assembly

o       Relating words to one another to form meaningful units

o       Example: reading the sentence: “The old boat sank” – understanding that there was a boat, the boat was old, the boat sank, etc.


-         Propositional integration

o       Combining individual propositions into larger units of meaning

o       Example: seeing the meaning of the text as a whole – a number of words form a sentence, sentence fits into a paragraph, which fits into a chapter, etc.


-         Text modeling

o       The process by which children draw inferences and relate what they are reading to what they already know

o       Example: after reading the sentence “the old boat sank” the child draw on their knowledge of what happens to things when they get old – they break. Children conclude that the boat sank because it was old and its structure was no longer able to hold it together.


Reading Comprehension Strategies (Bourgeault, n.d.)




Examine text


Truth (or Fiction)

 - the main purpose of the pre-reading strategy is to orient readers to stories prior to reading.


TELLS - Fact or Fiction?

Title - clues about the story?

Examine - skim each page for clues.

Look - for important words.

Look - for hard words.

Setting - where? when?

Fact or fiction??


Reciprocal Reading

1. Generate and ask questions.

2. Summarize the paragraph or segment.

3. Clarify the difficult parts.

4. Predict what the next paragraph or segment might discuss.

 (Be sure to activate prior knowlegde and other appropriate strategies).





 - the teacher picks key words from a story, and writes them down in the order they occur

 - students predict by writing what they think will happen, according to those words

 - teacher or child reads the story, or they can read it together


Independent Comprehension and Recall

 - student skims page, writes down words that "pop out" at him/her, and makes a list

 - student uses those words as a "cue" to remember what paragraph, or chapter is about

 - model this at first, but the student choose his/her own cue words 

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