KWL (know, want to know, learnt)

This strategy will help students to:

  • recall and record prior knowledge and identify future learning needs

  • reflect on changes in their understanding, skills and attitudes.


  1. Explain to students that this strategy will help record what they already know, identify issues they would like to learn more about and plan the direction of their learning.

  2. Show students how to draw up the KWL chart or print a copy of the template below.

  3. Pose a question, statement or issue for students to consider (e.g. What do you already know about safer sex issues for young people?) as a group.

  4. Students then brainstorm what they know about the question, statement or issue and fill in the ‘What I know' column to show the range of knowledge already shared as a group.

  5. Ask students to think about what they want to know, either individually or as a group then complete the ‘What I want to know' column to show the group's areas of interest. It may help to model making a contribution to this column of the KWL chart.

  6. Have groups share some of the ideas generated in the ‘What I want to know' columns. This will identify the range of questions raised by the class and offer some students the opportunity to share their current knowledge about these.

  7. Keep the KWL charts. At the conclusion of one or several learning experiences, ask students to complete the last column ‘What I learnt' to identify what students have learnt and if there have been any changes in attitudes.

  8. Determine if further learning experiences are required for students to achieve the outcomes.


The first two columns of the KWL chart can be completed either individually, with a partner or in a small group. Students can then join with another person, pair or small group to compare notes and circle similar ideas.

What I know What I want to know What I learnt
Students recall what they know Students determine what they want to know Students identify what they have learnt