Areas of Expertise


Adolescent Literacy

Reading Strategies

Strategy: KWL

Ogle, D. (1986). KWL: A teaching model that develops action reading of expository text. The Reading Teacher, 40, 564-570.


KWL is a strategy that models active thinking when students are engaged in reading expository text. The letters K, W, and L stand for the three activities that the teacher and students participate in when reading informational text.


  1. K—What students KNOW about the topic to be studied. The teacher discusses with the students what they already know about the topic to be read and lists this knowledge on the board or on a K-W-L chart. It is not the role of the teacher to correct or evaluate these statements. However, if conflicting ideas are posed, it is appropriate for the teacher to suggest framing a question that would clear up the discrepancies. It is important to allow enough time so that as much knowledge as possible can be elicited.

  2. W—What students WANT to know about the topic. Again, the teacher leads the discussion about what questions have come to mind that they want answered as they read. These are added to the K-W-L chart or listed on the board.

    (It must be added here that after these first two steps the teacher can evaluate what might be the appropriate material to use for further class learning.)

  3. L—What students have LEARNED. Once the material has been read, the students discuss what has been learned. It is important to return to the K column to validate what is listed and also to check the questions in the W column to be sure that all have been answered.

  4. If not, suggestions could be made as to how the students could continue their search for information.

Note: Many teachers have added an H to the K-W-L strategy, making it K-W-H-L<. The H encourages students to ask themselves "How can I go about finding more information about this subject?" They are encouraged to do additional research, ask an expert, do an experiment, or use the Internet.

Source: Robb, L. (2003). Teaching reading in social studies, science, and math: Practical ways to weave comprehension strategies into your content area teaching. New York: Scholastic.


The teacher can introduce K-W-Lby saying:

"Today we are going to start learning more about energy. The first chapter that we will be studying is about propane. I'm going to ask you to share with the class what you know about propane. I will make note of your information on this chart." (Have K-W-L chart on blackboard or on an overhead.)

"Next, we are going to consider what we want to know about propane. Perhaps, some of you may want to know what propane is. Someone else may want to know how propane is used, how it is transported, or how it is produced. Probably all of you will want to know what effects propane has on our environment. We are going to want to ask as many questions as we can. All of them will be written under the W section of our chart.

"Then I will assign some material for you to read. I hope many of our questions will be answered, but I want to warn you that there may be a few that won't be."

The class then reads the assigned material.

After the reading, the class discusses what they learned from their reading. This information is recorded on the chart. It is advisable that a review of the K information be checked to be sure that all of the items are indeed correct. In other words, is what they know correct information?

Next, the list under W is explored. Questions that were answered can be starred or in some way noted. The questions that were not answered become the H list. The students can then brainstorm how they can find out the answers. It is appropriate at this time to divide the students into small groups. Each group is assigned a question (or questions) to research for another class session.

In the beginning, most teachers start out with just the K-W-L, and leave the H until the class is secure with the first part.

Note: Other areas of energy that can be included in this unit of study might be natural gas, petroleum, coal, solar energy, wind, and geothermal energy. Articles on each of these areas can be found on the National Energy Education Development (NEED PROJECT) Web site, or by contacting the NEED Project at 102 Elden Street, Herndon, VA. 2017 or 703-471-6263.


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