KWL (Know/Want To Learn/Learned)

Using Teaching/Learning Activities to Develop Strategic Readers

A persistent challenge for teachers is to encourage students to be active thinkers while they read. Active readers make predictions about what they will be reading.

Before they start, active readers consider what they already know about the story or topic. Then as they read, they confirm whether or not their predictions were on target. Active readers have an idea of what to look for, and when they are done, they evaluate what they have learned or experienced.

Many of our students are not active readers, and they are confused about what they should be thinking about as they read. KWL Plus (Carr and Ogle, 1987) is a technique that helps students take stock of what they know before they dive into a reading assignment.

Using KWL Plus with students will help them make predictions about what they will be reading by generating questions they would like to have answered. KWL Plus also helps students to organize what they have learned when they are finished reading.

KWL is an acronym which stands for Know, Want to Learn, and Learned. It involves using a three-column organizer with students, with a column for each category. The organizer becomes the students’ study guide as they read. The graphic organizer can be given to students as a worksheet or can be developed by the teacher on the chalkboard or overhead transparency.

LINK: (List, Inquire, Note, Know)

Suppose as you paged through a magazine, you happened upon an article entitled “Lasers: The Promise of a Space-Age Technology.” What would you anticipate about this article? Laser weapons? Laser surgery? Printers and other laser tools? Laser discs? Spectacular light shows?

The principles behind lasers as a beam of light? Like any mature reader, you would anticipate the content of what you would be reading, by reaching into your memory and marshaling pertinent information that might connect to new material in the article. Effective readers take stock of what they know before they start.

LINK (Vaughan and Estes, 1996) is a brainstorming strategy that prompts students to anticipate what they will encounter in a reading. An additional feature of the strategy involves students in directing their own discussion about what they know about a topic. LINK is an acronym for List, Inquire, Note, and Know.

Other Activities that Support Language Development

Language learning occurs at the same time when many other important learning experiences are taking place. Language is the vehicle that makes it possible for children to express their learning and to make sense of it.

Activities that Support Language Development

  • Seek out interesting, age-appropriate experiences that will give young children new ideas and things to talk about — visits to the park, the zoo, and a children’s museum.
  • Provide props and puppets for children to act out parts of familiar stories. Join in from time to time, if you like, but follow the child’s lead.
  • Sing songs, and listen and sing along with recordings. Raffi is a particular favorite with young children.
  • Involve children in your activities; let them work alongside you and talk with you about what you are doing together
  • Examples: planting flowers and vegetables, preparing food, caring for a pet, sorting laundry. Follow the activity by reading a library book that connects with what you were doing.