Wednesday, March 28, 2012


The K-W-L technique is a very useful little tool to have in the kitbag, and could be used for a range of purposes.

In essence, it is a tool for reflection. Students are asked to reflect on three things:

In the beginning:
  1. What do they Know?
  2. What do they Wish to know?
Throughout the course and at the end:
  1. What have they Learnt?
So, how could it be used?  Here are three examples that spring to mind.

Diagnostic assessment

On the first day of class, with a new cohort from diverse backgrounds, the teacher using the technique for diagnostic purposes would ask students to answer the first two questions. This information would be used to shape teaching and learning activities and decisions about whether or not to provide “catch-up” material for those students who aren’t fully prepared for the class, and to assist students to make decisions about how best to expend their energies and time on their own learning activities. At the end of the course, they would be asked to reflect on the success of the experience in improving their learning.

Building a Community of Learners

The technique could be woven into the pattern of the class. At the beginning of each new topic or module, students would complete the first two questions in groups and share their responses. They could then pair up, based on the pre-existing knowledge each participant is bringing to the course. At the end of each module, each group or small community of learners would compete the third reflective question and report back to the whole class. In this way, the technique would help students to begin to identify their most effective learning strategies.

Learning blogs

Where students are keeping learning journals or learning blogs, they could be directed to use this technique in their first entry, completing the first two questions at the beginning of the course, and adding material throughout the course to answer the third question, finishing with a final blog / journal entry that revisits their first entry and summarizes their learning throughout the course.

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