What types of classroom activities engage students in reading and writing as an integral learning process? One popular activity is the KWL-Plus procedure, consisting of a three-column grid graphic organizer designed to guide student thinking though all three phases of learning. KWL is an acronym for Know, Want to Know, and Learned. The graphic organizer can be a worksheet or developed by the teacher on the chalkboard or overhead transparency.
The KWL – Plus activity imbeds reading and writing into content learning before, during and after an assignment. In addition, traits of a proficient reader are encouraged throughout. The activity begins by activating students’ knowledge so they can make personal connections as they read. In addition, the teacher is provided with an inventory of student background knowledge about a topic. Student descriptions about what they know elicit visual topic imagery.
Students are encouraged to generate topic questions of interest to them and answered by the text. These questions help students decide what is most important as they read and to make predictions about new information. Students are prompted to make inferences as they decide which are answered and which remain unknown. Finally, the categorizing and mapping activities guide students into meaningful organization of new information, making it easier for them to summarize it into personal synthesis.