Offering benefits for both students and teachers, a KWL chart can be completed as a whole class on a large piece of butcher paper or by individuals on a worksheet. The chart is divided into three vertical sections. At the top of the sections, write “K” for Know, "W" for Want to Learn, and "L" at the top of the third section, for recording what the students have Learned at the end of the lesson or unit. Using a KWL chart at the beginning and end of a unit or lesson can increase student comprehension and help teachers assess student learning.

Taking Ownership of Learning

Completing the “K” portion of the chart increases student comprehension by engaging their prior knowledge; they begin the unit already thinking about and connecting with the topic. The “W” section of the chart is a road map that helps students become active learners and gives them ownership of the learning objective. Completing the “L” activity at the close of the unit reinforces what they have learned.

Assessing Learning and Teaching

The “K” section of the KWL chart gives the teacher information about the knowledge that the whole class brings to the unit; this can help avoid revisiting known information and tell the teacher where to start the lesson. The “W” portion enables the teacher to stay on track with the goals of the unit. It also shows the teacher what information is most engaging to the students so that she can modify lessons as needed. Completing the “L” section at the close of the unit gives the teacher valuable data on the effectiveness of the lesson or unit.