Prereading strategies connect students to the text before they begin reading. During-reading and postreading strategies keep students engaged in the material as they read. The KWL reading strategy combines prereading, during-reading and postreading to help students get a better grasp of the book or text. Teachers can use this teaching technique in any content or subject area.
1. Ask students to take out a sheet of notebook paper and make three columns. Write a “K” over the left column, “W” over the center column and “L” over the right column.
2. Explain to students that K stands for what they student already know about the topic they are studying. Tell the students what the topic of the text is, and ask them to share facts they already know. For example, if your class is studying Egypt, ask students to share everything they already know about Egypt.
3. List each fact the students share on a chalk or dry-erase board. Do not question whether the statements are true or exaggerated. Instead, just write what the students say, even if you know the statement is not true. Encourage as many students as possible to share what they know. Ask students to make their own lists in the left column of what they already know about the topic.
4. Explain that the W stands for what the students want to learn about the topic. Ask the class if anyone has a question about Egypt they would like answered. Write all the questions students ask on the board and tell them to write the same on their papers under the W.
5. Instruct students to read the text. This may be done orally as a class or silently and individually. Tell the class to mark items in their K lists as true or false based on what they learn in the text. Also tell them to put stars next to questions in the W list if the text answers those questions.
6. Discuss what they discovered as a class after they have read the text and made notes on their first two columns. Tell the students that L stands for what they have learned. Allow them time to write down new things they have learned that did not appear in the K or W columns.