KWL is intended to be an exercise for a study group or class
that can guide you in reading and understanding a text.
You can adapt it to working alone, but discussions definitely
It is composed of only three stages that reflect a worksheet
of three columns with the three letters:
What we Know
Want to know
what we Learned
K stands for Know
This first stage may surprise you:
Think first about, then list, what you know about the topic before
This advanced organizer provides you with a background to the new
material, building a scaffold to support it.
Think of it as a pre-reading inventory.
Before looking at the text, think of keywords, terms, or phrases
about the topic, either in your class or a study group.
Record these in the K column of your chart until you
cannot think of more.
Engage your group in a discussion about what you wrote in the
Organize the entries into general categories.
W stands for Will or Want
The second stage is to list a series of questions of what you want to
know more of the subject, based upon what you listed in K.
Preview the text’s table of contents, headings, pictures,
Discuss what you want to learn
List some thoughts on what you want, or expect to learn,
generally or specifically.
Think in terms of what you will learn, or what do you want to
learn about this.
Turn all sentences into questions before writing them down.
They will help you focus your attention during reading.
List the questions by importance.
L stands for Learned
The final stage is to answer your questions,
as well as to list what new information you have learned.
Either while reading or after you have finished.
List out what you learn as you read,
either by section, or after the whole work, whichever is
comfortable for you.
Check it against the W column, what you wanted to learn
Create symbols to indicate main ideas, surprising ideas,
questionable ideas, and those you don’t understand!
Expand this exercise beyond K W L:
Add an H!
Stands for HOW you can learn more.
Pose new questions about the topic
How can I learn more or answer questions not answered in my
These include other sources of information, including:
organizations, experts, tutors, websites, librarians, etc.
5 W's and an H
Another reading strategy is to answer the questions that form the
basis of good journalism:
Who What When Where Why and How
Who are the main characters?
What does the author say happened?
Where did the action occur?
When did it happen or what is the span of time?
Why did this happen?
How did it happen?
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.
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