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A reading-thinking strategy, KWL focuses on what students:

  1. Know prior to investigation.

  2. Want to learn as a result of a lesson or activity.

  3. Learned as a result of a lesson or activity.

In order to more fully engage students, concept maps of these three areas as they relate to a field of study are constructed.  This process allows students to develop their own analysis and critical thinking skills, transferring the application of this strategy for teacher to students.

A sample worksheet can be used such as:


K (Known)
W (Want to know)
L (Learned)


Categories of Information We Expect to Use:



  3. (etc...)

Getting started with KWL involves

  1. "Brainstorming" ideas about what is already Known about the topic at hand.

  2. Guiding students to categorizing this information and anticipate the categories of information that they want to know as a result of a lesson / activity.

  3. Creating questions (based on the categories) that identify Want to Learn.

  4. Breaking the activity  / lesson into small, digestible parts that allow ALL learners to absorb the material.  

  5. Reflecting on the questions as students complete the activity / lesson.

  6. This is an open process, students can add information to the Known and the Want to Learn sections to reflect their understanding of their learning.

  7. Recording what is being learned through the process in the Learned column.  This can be done as a group, in smaller groups, or individually.

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Information Power
Information Literacy
Research Process
Evaluating Information
Lesson Design
Staff Development


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