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KWL activates readers' prior knowledge before reading, engages their attention while reading and supports understanding after reading.


  1. Before reading ask readers:
    • what do they know about the topic
    • what do they want to know about the topic
  2. After reading ask readers:
    •    what did they learn about the topic 

Note: The KWL strategy can be used individually or as a group. Responses to the prompts can be captured in print or through conversation. Either way, it is important to understand what readers already know and what they want to know about a topic.  

See It In Action


Instructional Strategies video -- The KWL Strategy


The Answers May Vary Resource Collection on the CALP Portal includes a short audio file dedicated to KWL from Chapter 2 of the AMV Guidebook ‘Strategies to Build Literacy and Essential Skills into Daily Life’.

Downloadable Template:

Download a KWL chart

Read More:

Practitioner’s Shortcut blog: K-W-L