KWL Chart

What is a KWL Chart?

A KWL chart is a teaching strategy that helps students organize their thoughts before, during, and after a learning exercise. First, students identify what they know about a topic. Then, they think about what they want to research or learn. After the lesson, they then reflect on what they have learned. A KWL chart is useful for both individuals and groups as formative assessment and for visible thinking strategies.

Teachers can use this technique to gather information for creating customized, student-specific lesson plans while still linking to a curriculum or organizational learning goals. The information is displayed visually enabling both students and teachers to keep track of progress.

The chart focusses on three areas:

  • K – What students already KNOW about a topic?
  • W – WHAT students want to learn or find out?
  • L – What students have LEARNED about the topic after taking action?

You can also extend the basic KWL to chart to include additional items like asking what actions they can take with their new knowledge, what new questions have come up and what other reflections they may have.

Why Do a KWL Chart?

The KWL Chart is a simple but effective teaching pedagogy which puts the student at the center of inquiry based learning. The chart:

  • Provides teachers with valuable information as to what students already know about a given topic. (diagnostic assessment).
  • Builds collective learning by helping students to learn from each other (peer to peer learning).
  • Enables teachers to create more enjoyable lesson plans that address the interests, questions, and needs of the students
  • Increases motivation and involvement by activating the students’ prior knowledge.
  • Creates interest and curiosity and encourages students to expand their ideas beyond the lesson or training provided in the classroom environment.
  • Presents an opportunity for students to consolidate their learning by reflecting on what they have learned and sharing this with others.
Related templates
  • Ogle, Donna. 1986. “KWL: A Teaching Model that Develops Active Reading of Expository Text.” The Reading Teacher. 39, 6: 564- 570. 

Who should use a KWL chart?

This technique adds structure to the learning process. A KWL chart is useful for teachers, trainers, students, and researchers who:

  • Are about to start a new topic
  • Looking to implement student centered teaching strategies
  • Need evidence of diagnostic and formative assessments
  • Want to reduce paperwork
  • Introduce ICT into their curriculum in a meaningful way

KWL Chart Template


Information about what the students already know.

Complete before planning and delivery of the lesson.

What I WANT to know

Information about what the students want to know.

Complete before planning and delivery of the lesson.


Information about what the students learned.
Complete after the lesson.

How to Use a KWL Chart

Set topic

Define the topic, scope and objective of the KWL chart.

Brainstorm (KW)

Capture everything you know and want to know about the topic.

Review (KW)

Review results, discuss and prioritize.

Run Lesson

Deliver the lesson.

Reflect (L)

As a group, capture everything you learned about the topic.

Cross Device Compatibility

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