Instructional Strategy Review 2

NAME: Melissa Scott

TITLE: KWL Strategy

SOURCE: The University of NC at Chapel Hill – Learn NC


DESCRIPTION: The KWL strategy is a before-reading instructional strategy designed to activate a student’s prior knowledge and establish a purpose for reading.  It is used to guide students through a text with the assistance of a chart. The KWL process is designed to elicit students’ prior knowledge of the topic of the text, set a purpose for reading, help students monitor their comprehension, allow students to assess their comprehension of the text, and to provide opportunity for idea expansion beyond the text.

Students begin by brainstorming everything they Know about a topic and recording the information in the first section (the K column) of the KWL chart. Students then generate a list of questions about what they Want to Know about the topic. These questions are listed in the second section (the W column) of the chart. During or after reading, students answer the questions they placed in the W column. This new information that they have Learned is recorded in the third column (the L column) of the KWL chart.

NCSCOS: The KWL strategy can be used for virtually any subject in any grade level, thus meeting a broad range of NCSCOS objectives including content area as well as broader alignments. For example, a 4th grade Science lesson on Electricity and Magnetism that was designed to address Science Goal 3, Objectives 3.01, 3.02, 3.03, 3.04, and 3.06 could also be applied to:


Goal 2: The learner will apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.

  • Objective 2.03: Read a variety of texts, including: 1) fiction (legends, novels, folklore, science fiction), 2) nonfiction (autobiographies, informational books, diaries, journals), 3) poetry (concrete, haiku), 4) drama (skits, plays).


Goal 4: The learner will EXPLORE and USE research processes to meet information needs.

  • Objective 4.01: Identify information needs and formulate questions about those needs.
  • Objective 4.07: Organize and use information.

EXAMPLE:  When presented with a KWL chart prior to beginning the Science lesson on Electricity and Magnetism, the student would fill out the first column on what they already know and what they want to know.  After the lesson they would fill in the last column on what they learned.  A completed chart could look like this:

EXPLANATION/ELABORATION: This strategy should be very helpful for students in that when they begin to study new material, it is important to determine prior knowledge they already have about the material.  This can provide greater motivation based on student realization of the knowledge already possessed, and it sets a purpose for reading the material while incorporating the use of challenges, choices, and collaboration to motivate students to learn.  The chart also ensures that the students are monitoring their own comprehension since the last section of the chart is an assessment of what they learned/  By encouraging purposeful learning through actively seeking information that the student will be held accountable for in the end, the student is more engaged in the learning process when using the KWL strategy.

This is an especially useful strategy due to the fact that it can be applied to essentially any subject matter or text.

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