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Engaging students with KWL charts

Every teacher knows the struggle of how to capture the students' interest at the beginning of a lesson. Engaging them into their own learning can prove to be even more difficult. One way is to use a KWL chart. In my lesson about Sherlock Holmes I used such a chart as a pre-reading activity. A KWL chart is a graphical organizer designed to help in learning. The letters KWL are an acronym, for what students already Know, what they Want to know, and what they ultimately Learn in the course of the lesson.

A KWL chart consists of three columns and it is very simple to design and use. However it is a very powerful tool as it motivates and engages students from the very start. First, a KWL chart activates students' prior knowledge of the topic to be studied. Next, it sets a purpose for the lesson: students are able to add their own input to the topic by contemplating what they actually want to know. Using a KWL chart allows students to expand their ideas beyond the text used in the classroom. The third column facilitates consolidation of new knowledge.


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