A k-w-l (or k-w-l-h) table/chart is a form of graphical organizer, first introduced in the mid 80’s by a researcher named Donna Ogle.

It’s usually counted among instructional techniques, it sets out to answer the following three important questions:

(1). What I Know
(2). What I Want to know and
(3) What I’ve Learned.

By systematizing previous knowledge in such a fashion it becomes easier for an instructor or a student for that matter to keep track on what has been done previously and what needs to be done in the future.


How does it work?

Divide your paper into three different columns (equally large) just like in the picture below. In section “A” one writes down the current date and the particular course this applies to.

Section B, C and D follows the same order as the acronym KWL; in ‘B’ you write what you know right now. In section ‘C’ you write down what you would like to know and finally in the last section marked as ‘D’ you write down what new knowledge you’ve learned.

Further notes
Although a kwl chart is usually composed of the three columns previously mentioned some prefer to add a fourth and a fifth column; K-W-L-W-H. The second W stands for “Further Wanderings” where the student fills in additional thoughts that came to mind.

The addition of the final “H” was proposed by teaching instructor Margaret Mooney and it stands for How the students can gather further information on the subject.

Helpful resources

Blue Arrow pdf Download a template kwl chart – A downloadable template for kwl charts.
Blue Arrow Cornell notes – Article discussing a specific note taking technique.