K-W-L Chart

outline of a man thinking

Purpose:  K-W-L is an instructional strategy that helps guide learners through a reading text. This activity helps to activate prior knowledge, sets a purpose for reading, and helps learners to monitor their reading comprehension.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  copies of the K-W-L chart (attached below)

Procedure:

  1. Give each learner a copy of the K-W-L chart. Have the learners write the title of the reading text and the topic on the top of the chart.
  2. Have the learners brainstorm a list of words, terms, or phrases that they associate with the topic. The learners record these associations in the Know (K) section of the chart. This brainstorming can be done individually, in partners, or as a small group. If the brainstorming is done individually or in partners, have everyone share their associations with the entire group after they are finished.
  3. Ask the learners to think about what they want to know about the topic. As they generate questions, the questions are recorded in the Want to know (W) section of the chart. The questions can be composed individually, in partners, or as a small group. If the questions are written individually or in partners, have everyone share their questions with the entire group after they are finished. If learners are struggling to come up with questions, the teacher may prompt by asking “What do you think you will learn about this topic from the text you’ll be reading?” or choose an idea from the Know column and ask, “What else would you like to learn about this idea?” The teacher may also want to have a few questions prepared to add to the Want to learn column.
  4. Have the learners read through the entire text.
  5. Ask the learners to go back to the chart and review their Want to know questions. Then, have them re-read the text, writing out the answers to the questions as they come across them in the Learned (L) column. Learners can also record anything that they find particularly interesting from the text in this column.
  6. When all of the learners have finished reading and recording answers and observations, ask them to share what they learned with the group.

Variation: For beginning level learners, have them complete only the Want to know (W) section of the chart. Show the learner/s pictures from the story, and have them generate a list of questions that they want to have answered (example: What is her name? Why is she sad? Where is he going?). After the learner/s finish reading the text, go back to the questions and have the learners answer them orally, crossing out any questions that were not answered by the story.

Variation suggestion provided by Sheri Lear, Minnesota Literacy Council

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