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Know/Want to Know/Learned

KWL, a widely used learning strategy, is particularly useful for teaching reading comprehension. This technique ties together students' prior knowledge, their desire to learn more, and the conclusions of their learning.

K (Know): Students list everything they think they know about the topic of study.
W (Want to know): Students tell what they want to know about the topic.
L (Learned): After students have finished reading or studying a topic, they list what they have learned. They can also check the W column to see which questions were answered and which were left unanswered. Then they should revisit the K column to see if they had any misconceptions.

Steps to a KWL:

  1. Draw a KWL framework chart on the chalkboard. Remind students of the KWL process. Students will write the things they already know and the things they wish to know before reading. After reading, they will complete the chart with things they have learned.

  2. Have students—as an entire class or in small groups—outline their prior knowledge of the topic. Write, or have students write, each idea on the KWL chart.

  3. Next, ask students to raise questions they would like answered as the learn about the topic. Record these on the KWL chart.

  4. Have students read the selection and take notes on the things they learn. Emphasize new information that relates to the "what I want to know" questions.

  5. Ask students to volunteer to write the things they have learned to complete the chart. Discuss this new information with the class. Note any questions that were not answered in the reading.

Learn More:

  • Carr, E., & Ogle, D.M. (1987). "A strategy for comprehension and summarization." Journal of Reading, 30, 626-631.

  • Lenski, Susan D., Wham, Mary Ann, & Johns, Jerry L. (1999). Reading and learning strategies for middle and high school students. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

  • Ogle, D.M. (1986). "K-W-L: A teaching model that develops active reading of expository text." Reading Teacher, 39, 564-570.

  • K-W-L Reading Method


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