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A KWL table, or KWL chart, is a graphical organizer designed to help in learning. The letters KWL are an acronym, for what students, in the course of a lesson, already know, want to know, and ultimately learn. A KWL table is typically divided into three columns titled Know, Want and Learned. The table comes in various forms as some have modified it to include or exclude information.
It may be useful in research projects and to organize information to help study for tests.
The KWL chart was created by Donna Ogle in 1986. A KWL chart can be used for all subjects in a whole group or small group atmosphere. The chart is a comprehension strategy used to activate background knowledge prior to reading and is completely student centered. The teacher divides a piece of chart paper into three columns. The first column, 'K', is for what the students already know about a topic. This step is to be completed before the reading. The next column, 'W', is for students to list what they want to learn about the topic during the reading. This step is also to be completed before the reading. The third column, 'L', is for what the students learned from the reading. This step, of course, is done after finishing the reading. The KWL chart can also be used in reading instruction at the beginning of a new unit.
Here is what the KWL chart can look like:
What I know
What I want to know
What I learned
|Write the information about what the students know in this space.||Write the information about what the students want to know in this space.||After the completion of the lesson or unit, write the information that the students learned in this space.|
A KWL chart can be used to drive instruction in the classroom. The teacher can create lesson plans based upon the interests and inquiries of the students and their needs. Using this strategy can increase motivation and attention by activating the students' prior knowledge. This allows the teacher to understand the students' prior knowledge and the students' interests in the topic.
A teacher has many reasons for using KWLT charts in the classroom. First, a KWL chart activates students' prior knowledge of the text or topic to be studied. By asking students what they already know, students are thinking about prior experiences or knowledge about the topic. Next, KWL charts set a purpose for the unit. Students are able to add their input to the topic by asking them what they want to know. Students then have a purpose for participating and engaging in the topic. Also, using a KWL chart allows students to expand their ideas beyond the text used in the classroom. By being aware of students' interests, the teacher has the ability to create projects and assignments that the students will enjoy. A KWL chart is a tool that can be used to drive instruction as well as guide student learning.
A KWL chart can be used as a study tool. This may work as a study tool for an individual, group or entire class. It is a way to synthesize information into a visual aid. The students are also able to keep track of what they have done and what they still would like, or need to do.
KWL charts can be used with all students, however there are specific groups of students that lend themselves quite well to this strategy, including visual learners, young learners or ESL learners. As the chart is a graphic organizer it can aid visual learners. The information is presented in a user friendly way that is visually accessible. Due to the visual nature of the KWL chart it can also be beneficial for young learners such as preschoolers. Words may not be necessary and pictures can be used in order to express the ideas within the chart. As pictures can be used alone or in conjunction with words the KWL chart may provide assistance for students that are learning a second language.
There are various adaptations of KWL charts that can be used within the classroom.
One adaptation as created by Hill is an extension of the traditional KWL chart to include a column for "Further Wanderings" at the end of the table. This allows for the students knowledge to continue beyond what they have learned within the classroom. The idea behind this extra column is to encouraged the students to continue to learn.
Another adaptation of the KWL chart is the KLEW chart. The KLEW chart was developed by a group of people with various backgrounds including an elementary school teacher, a professor and a professional development specialist. Within this chart, the "K" stands for what students know of a topic, the "L" for what is being learned, the "E" for evidence that supports the learning previously described, and the "W" for wondering, which leaves room for further questions. This table differs from the traditional KWL chart as it places an emphasis on observation and examination of evidence that supports what they see.
Margaret Mooney suggested a variation to the KWL chart by adding a fifth column to the traditional chart. This column would be located between the "W" and the "L". Its purpose is to answer the question "How". This encourages the students to develop their own means of how they will discover more information. This can be quite useful in the sciences for experimentation purposes.
The KWL chart is useful to complete formative assessment in the classroom. It allows the teacher to find out the students prior knowledge on a particular topic. From this knowledge the teacher is then able to gear their lessons based upon this information. The KWL chart can be completed when starting a new topic and be added to throughout the unit. Further, the teacher is able to find out what the students have learned by the end of their lessons.
KWL charts work well in order to examine the individual student or the entire class in order to understand their thinking and learning.