Helpful resources for teaching Cognitive Verbs

February 26, 2018

Helpful resources for teaching Cognitive Verbs

There is plenty of interest in the new senior syllabus and its cognitive verbs. While cognitive verbs is the new term, the concepts are old friends to teachers and students using Pat’s Posters or the How To Write What You Want To Say… book series.

Also known as key task words, task words and verbs, the cognitive verbs are common curriculum elements in disguise and teachers should be very familiar with these skills.

Our set of 18 posters are the most comprehensive resource yet developed for teaching these skills. The Posters link the skill, the questions to ask to guide the students as they develop the skill, graphic organisers and the language students should use to demonstrate the skill. They are designed to enable teachers to explicitly teach the Common Curriculum Elements (CCEs) in all year levels. 

Pat’s Posters / Blue Book

QCAA Cognitive Verbs


Analyse, examine, explore, reflect on


Argue, comment, discuss (for & against) distinguish


Categorise, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish


Compare, contrast

Concluding/Decision Making

Decide, deduce, determine, make decisions, solve


Communicate, define, describe, express, recall


Develop, document


Appraise, appreciate, assess, comment, consider, critique, evaluate, solve


Clarify, communicate, explain, judge



Inferring and Interpreting

Comprehend, deduce, derive, extrapolate, infer, interpret, predict, understand


Justify, prove


identify, recall, sequence

Making Recommendations

Propose, solve



Solving Problems

Prove, solve


Organise, summarise


Resolve, synthesise

However, these posters are a teacher resource for teachers to use as they plan their lessons to incorporate explicit teaching of the cognitive verbs as demonstrated through writing. While it is tempting to think that plastering classroom walls with them is a good idea, it may not be. It’s not especially helpful to give these posters to students. They feature a lot of information and require considerable unpacking with students.

A better option for students is the How to Write What You Want to Say… books. These books are designed to be a useful student resource and compliment the posters. The blue book, How To Write What You Want to Say… is a multi-subject book suitable for students in the middle years of schooling. There are also books focused on writing for science and mathematics as well.

Of course, to get the most out of the posters and books, you should know how to use them. We can demonstrate the best way to use these resources to teach the cognitive verbs for staff in a professional development session. To organise a session contact us.

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