Reading & Writing Across Curriculum


The KWL+ activity is from “Comprehension Development and Thinking Critically” by Tierney, Robert, and Readence. 

“The KWL+ is a three step process that helps students access schema in an expository text in order to ensure that teachers had a framework to elicit children’s background knowledge and engage student interest” (257).  This exercise gets students involved with the text.  Instead of passively reading, they are thinking about their own reading process.  They are actively thinking about and interacting with the text, and what follows is a detailed explanation of the KWL+ close reading process. 



The K stands for what do I know?  Students brainstorm and generate categories for ideas beginning with specific questions like, where did you learn about that or how might you prove that?  Students think about categories that might be involved in the reading and ask questions like, what type of information is included?


The W stands for what do I want to learn?  where students develop interests and curiosities, turn uncertainties into reasons to read, and provoke questions by highlighting gaps in ideas, disagreements, intriguing ideas etc.


The L stands for what have I learned?  Or what questions do I still have?


The + sign stands for what more.  Here students ask any additional questions that the reading may have brought up.


This article indicates that students taught using K-W-L+ remember what they have pursued, and over time become more actively involved in reading.  The extent to which they elicit their own background knowledge increases as does their ability to generate categories (257-261).  The students participate in this activity before, during, and after reading.  They are engaged with the reading before they even begin to read. 

Tierney, Robert, and John Readence. Reading Strategies and Practices:  A Compendium. New York: Pearson, 2005.

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Meghan Swanson
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Page last modified: April 25, 2017