Your Study Guides and Strategies starts here!

The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares
the same books.
Katherine Mansfield 1888 - 1923
American author

Reading and research series

KWL reading method

KWL is intended to be an exercise for a study group or class
that can guide you in reading and understanding a text.
You can adapt it to working alone, but discussions definitely help.
It is composed of only three stages that reflect
a worksheet of three columns with the three letters:

What we
Know
what we
W
ant to know
what we
Learned

K stands for Know

This first stage may surprise you:
Think first about, then list, what you know about the topic before reading!
This advanced organizer provides you with a background to the new material,
building a scaffold to support it.
Think of it as a pre-reading inventory.

  • Brainstorm!
    Before looking at the text, think of keywords, terms, or phrases about the topic, either in your class or a study group.
  • Record these in the K column of your chart until you cannot think of more.
  • Engage your group in a discussion about what you wrote in the K column.
  • Organize the entries into general categories.
W stands for Will or Want

The second stage is to list a series of questions of what you want to know more of the subject, based upon what you listed in K.

  • Preview the text’s table of contents, headings, pictures, charts etc.
    Discuss what you want to learn
  • List some thoughts on what you want, or expect to learn, generally or specifically.
    Think in terms of what you will learn, or what do you want to learn about this.
  • Turn all sentences into questions before writing them down.
    They will help you focus your attention during reading.
  • List the questions by importance.
L stands for Learned

The final stage is to answer your questions,
as well as to list what new information you have learned.
Either while reading or after you have finished.

  • List out what you learn as you read,
    either by section, or after the whole work, whichever is comfortable for you.
  • Check it against the W column, what you wanted to learn
  • Create symbols to indicate main ideas, surprising ideas, questionable ideas, and those you don’t understand!
Expand this exercise beyond K W L:

Add an H!
Stands for HOW you can learn more.

  • Pose new questions about the topic
  • How can I learn more or answer questions not answered in my worksheet
    These include other sources of information, including:  organizations, experts, tutors, websites, librarians, etc.
5 W's and an H

Another reading strategy is to answer the questions
that form the basis of good journalism:

Who What When Where Why and How

  • Who are the main characters?
  • What does the author say happened?
  • Where did the action occur?
  • When did it happen or what is the span of time?
  • Why did this happen?
  • How did it happen?

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

Kipling, Rudyard. (1902). "The Elephant's Child." In The Kipling Society.
Retrieved August 14, 2007, from http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_serving.htm.

Reading and research series

Reading critically | Prereading strategies | SQ3R reading method |
KWL reading method | Marking & underlining | Reading difficult material | Interpretive reading | Reading essays | Reading fiction | Narrator/character types |
Speed and comprehension | Researching on the Internet | Evaluating websites |
Organizing research: computers | Organizing research: note cards

Ogle, D.M. (1986, February). K-W-L: A Teaching Model That Develops Active Reading of Expository Text. The Reading Teacher, 39(6), 564–570. doi: 10.1598/RT.39.6.11
Mooney, Margaret. (October 1990). "Reading To, With, and By Children." Richard C. Owen Pubs., Inc. SBN: 0913461180 ISBN-13:9780913461181 Suggests adding a fifth column, H, for How to learn more.
Huffman, L. E. (1998). Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 41(6), 470-472. Combine focus questions (5 W and 1 H) with K-W-L.