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KWL Chart

Non Fiction Independent Non Fiction

Strategy description

A KWL Chart is used to record what students already know about a topic before reading, what they would like to learn about the topic while reading and later to reflect on what they have learned from reading.

  1. Give each student a copy of the KWL Chart handout and give them 5 minutes to record their thoughts about your topic to complete the first column of their chart.
  2. Invite students to share facts from their personal charts to add to the class chart.
  3. Record each student’s input onto the class chart.
  4. Now ask students to complete the next column of their chart – “What I Want to Know” – by listing questions they have about your topic.
  5. Ask each student to share one question off their personal chart to add to the class chart.
  6. Record each student’s input onto the class chart.
  7. Post the chart in a highly visible spot in the room so that you can add to it throughout the unit
  8. During or after reading ask students to complete the final column – “What I Learned.”  Here, students should write the answers to their questions from the second column.  Encourage students to pursue further research if necessary to answer their questions from column two.

Strategy Attributed to: Ogle, 1987


Variations of the K-W-L chart:

  1. The variation takes the “What I Know” section of the K-W-L chart and encourages students to think not only about what they already know, but how they know it.  Have they seen something about it on the Discovery Channel, read a book about it, taken a field trip where they’ve experienced it, or heard someone talk about it?  This type of thinking helps students build background knowledge and context. 

    What I Know

    How I Know

    What I Want to Know



  2. K-W-L-H:  In this variation add one additional column for “How to Learn More.”
  3. K-W-L-S:  In this variation add one additional column for “Still Want To Know.”
  4. KWL Notes

Additional Resources:


  • Prereading, Activating Background Knowledge
     KWL Notes



During Reading


Independent Independent
Pairs Pairs
Small Group Small Group
Large Group Large Group
Alert: Moderate-High Prep Time Alert: Moderate-High Prep Time
Fiction Fiction
Non Fiction Non Fiction
Handout Included Handout Included
Advanced Teaching Strategy Advanced Teaching Strategy