K-W-L Chart


A K-W-L (Know-Want-Learn) chart is a graphic organizer that helps students organize information before, during, and after learning (e.g., an activity, a lesson, or unit). A K-W-L Chart can be used to engage students in a new topic, activate prior knowledge, share objectives, or evaluate learning.


K Column Suggestions

  • Have questions ready to prompt students to brainstorm their ideas.
  • Encourage students to explain their associations.

W Column Suggestions

  • Ask an alternative question for generating ideas for the W column.
  • For example, “What do you think you will learn about this topic from this activity?
  • Choose an idea from the K column and ask, “What would you like to learn more about this idea?
  • Come prepared with your own questions to add to the W column.

L Column Suggestions

  • In addition to answering the W column questions, encourage students to write anything they found especially interesting in the L column.
  • Since it is unlikely that all of the students’ questions in the W column will be answered, you could extend the K-W-L teaching strategy by asking students to consult other resources in order to answer their questions.
  1. Create a K-W-L chart with three columns. Include the following questions:


    What do you Know about the topic?


    What do you Want to know?


    What did you Learn?

  2. Prior to learning, students respond to the “K” and “W” questions in columns 1 and 2. Answers can be recorded by students individually, in pairs or groups, or as a class. If students require it, consider listing the six questions of journalism—Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?—on the board as prompts.
  3. Have students complete the exercise, lesson, or unit.
  4. Next, students record their learning in the L column. Students should try to answer their questions from the W column.

Important Considerations

The K-W-L charts that students create are valuable planning tools for educators. Educators will gain insight regarding the knowledge of the class and student interests, allowing them to tailor teaching accordingly.

The charts can also be referenced at the end of the unit so students can identify any misconceptions they may have held before beginning the unit and see the progression of their learning.

The content in this section was sourced from: Ogle, D. M. (1986). K-W-L: A teaching model that develops active reading of expository text. Reading Teacher, 39, 564–570.