KWL Chart

KWL Table, What I Know Chart

UDL 3.3 UDL 3.4 UDL 6.3

A KWL Chart is a three-column chart where students record what they already Know, Want to know, and have Learned about a topic. Prior to reading or learning new content, students start by listing what they already know about the topic based on previous study, personal experience, and text features in the K column. Next, in the W column, students write questions they want to answer or information they hope to find out about the topic. After completing the unit, reading, or other learning activity, students record new information learned in the L column. KWL Charts help students activate prior knowledge, make connections, and set a purpose when reading or learning new concepts. KWL Charts also promote inquiry and reflection as students seek to find answers to their own questions about a topic.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Graphic Organizer

KWL Chart

A KWL Chart that can be used to activate students’ background knowledge. Give the chart to students to track ideas as well as promote engagement during lessons and activities.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 · Reading, Writing, Math · 1 pages

Implementation Tips

Preparing Charts
Prepare the KWL Chart beforehand and print out copies for students to use, as opposed to having students draw one themselves. This will help save time and ensure that the KWL Chart that students use is uniform. For an online option, try this interactive [[|KWL Creator]] by ReadWriteThink.
Adapting Charts
Enlarge or remove lines from a KWL Chart to allow space for students to draw responses. To increase space, each column (i.e., K, W, L) can also be printed on separate sheets of paper.
Provide opportunities for students to reflect on KWL Charts after an activity. Students can review the questions written in the W column and consider whether they were addressed. Students can also share their notes in the L column with a partner after a task to ensure that they recorded all the key ideas.
Student Inquiry
Encourage students to use the questions they generate in the W column to prompt further research on the topic. Students with similar questions can form groups and investigate the topic in more depth. At the end of the unit, groups can then share their findings with the class.


Introducing New Units
When beginning a geology unit, the teacher creates a bulletin board divided into three columns -- labeled K, W, and L. The teacher gives students several science-themed magazines and invites them to post images and phrases from the magazines that represent facts they already know about geology or information they want to learn. For example, one student posts a photo of a town following an earthquake in the W column and writes “What causes earthquakes?” on a sticky note beside it. Throughout the unit, students continue adding to the board and post images to show new learnings in the L column.
Pre-Filled KWL Charts
To accompany a reading assignment on the Civil War, a teacher creates a partially completed KWL Chart as a front-loading resource. The teacher includes background information from previous units (e.g., key vocabulary, important dates and places, etc.) in the K column. In the W column, the teacher lists guiding questions that will be addressed in the text (e.g., What were economic causes of the Civil War?). As students read the text with a partner, the teacher encourages them to record key details and responses to the provided questions in the L column.
Conflict Resolution
To help two students reflect after an argument during recess, a teacher gives each student a KWL Chart. In the K column, they each write about what happened from their perspective (e.g., I didn’t get to use the swings.). Students then write questions or concerns in the W column (e.g., Did you see me waiting? How long is each person’s turn?). The teacher mediates a discussion where the students share how they felt during the situation and their concerns. As students brainstorm solutions they list them in the L column and circle ideas to try if the problem occurs again.

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