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The KWL Chart starts students thinking about what they Know about a topic, what they Want to know, and what they have Learned in the end. This note-taking device guides students through a three-step process to activate background knowledge, develop a purpose for learning, and summarize.

How to use

1. Know

Give each student a KWL Chart or have them draw one on a piece of paper. Initiate discussion with the students about what they already know about a new topic of study.  Have them write what they know in the K column.

2. Want to Know

Discuss with the students what they want to learn, or have students talk in pairs. Then, ask students to write down the specific questions they have about the topic in the W column.

3. Learned

At the end of the lesson, ask students if they found out the answer to any of their questions in the W column. Share out any “a-ha’s” with the whole group and have students record a summary of what they learned in the L column.

When to use

Use KWL to open and close any lesson and help students access background knowledge, formulate questions, and document information learned. It can also be used as a monitoring/tracking tool during reading, with students updating the answers to their questions in the Learned section, then formulating new questions in the Want to Know section as they read.


Reading KWL

Use a KWL chart to monitor learning while students are reading. As they read, have students formulate new questions in the Want to Know section and record answers to their questions in the Learned section.


Add an S column at the end of the KWL chart for students to note what they still want to learn about the topic.

Add an I column to list why this information is important.

Add an F column to list where they found this information to create a resource list.

Add an R column to list something they want to remember.

Foldable Templates

Have students fold a blank sheet of paper into thirds (lke folding a letter to go into an envelope).  Then open the paper and place on desk in landscape orientation.  Next, have the students fold the top of the page 1 1/2 inches from the top.  Unfold again and lay flat.  The folded lines create the template for the KWL chart.  Label the top above the horizontal line with K, W, and L.

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