Know-Wonder-Learn (KWL) Charts Using Newsela with Elementary Students

A KWL chart supports students to record what they know before reading, document what they are wondering, and assess what they've learned
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K-W-L Chart Overview

About This Strategy

A KWL chart shows students' knowledge of the content before reading, expresses what students are wondering about the dedicated topic, and showcases what students learned after reading about the topic on Newsela. KWL charts can be used with any Newsela article and across any subject area. Because KWL charts can be text-based or illustration-based, they are great for students of any age.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Decide if students are going to read a single article on a topic or multiple articles on a topic.

    • If students are reading multiple articles on a single topic, decide whether they are all going to read all the articles. If not, some students can read one article, some can read the other, and they can partner up at the end to compare and contrast what they've read.

  2. Choose a Newsela article or Text Set that compliments what students are about to learn in class. A KWL supports students to demonstrate their background knowledge about a new topic in class, so focusing on a new topic for them to read about is recommended. Assign the article, or articles, to your students.  

  3. Determine if each child is going to complete their own KWL chart or if they are going to work in pairs.

    • If students have never completed a KWL chart before, it may be helpful for them to work together.

  4. Depending on how many articles students will be reading on the topic, print off the appropriate Newsela KWL Chart (see resources below). One KWL chart will be needed per student or per pair if students are working together.

Student Preparation:

  1. Introduce students to a new topic aligned to the curriculum. Have students discuss in pairs what they already know about the topic. As students are discussing, they should record what they already know in the Know section of their KWL Chart. Depending on the age and ability of the students, their recordings can be bullet points, complete sentences, or illustrations.

  2. Once all students have had the chance to discuss and record what they already know, give students an opportunity to share what they know with the whole class.

  3. Show students the article or articles they will be reading. Have them read the title of the article and look at the picture. Once they've done this, have students record what they are wondering about the topic or what they would like to know about the topic in the Wonder section of the KWL chart. Items in the wonder column should be written as questions.

  4. Have students discuss their questions or wonderings, and what they think the answer will be, with a partner.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Have students read the assigned article(s) independently.

  2. PRO users can encourage students to use the annotation feature to highlight what they've learned about the topic as they are reading. They can use one color to highlight anything they find which answers the questions in their Wonder column and another color to highlight anything else they learned and found interesting.

  3. Non-PRO users can print off the article for each student and have students annotate using highlighters or other colored writing utensils.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Once students have read the assigned article(s), they should take the quiz on Newsela and record the quiz score on their Newsela KWL chart.

  2. Have students look at the questions they wrote in their Wonder column. Using colored writing utensils, they will either underline or highlight in green any questions they were able to answer while they were reading and in red any questions they were not able to answer while they were reading.

  3. In the Learned column of their Newsela KWL chart, students will record the answers they found to their Wonders as well as the information they learned from their annotations.

  4. After students have completed the Newsela KWL chart, they will gather in partners or small groups to share their learning.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

Recycling: Is It Worth The Effort?

  • Essential Question: How does recycling make a difference?
  • Grade Level: 4-6
  • Content Area: ELA & Science

World Religions

  • Grade Level: 4-12
  • Content Area: Social Studies & Religion

Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Grade Level: 4-12
  • Content Area: ELA & Social Studies

Questions to Consider

  • Is the Newsela KWL Chart going to be used for a single article or across a whole unit of study?

  • Is the Newsela KWL Chart going to be assessed? If so, what process or rubric will be used to assess it?

Teacher Tips

  • If your students have never completed a KWL chart before, model what it looks like to record what you already know, how to develop a high-quality wonder, what annotating looks like when they're reading, and how to use those annotations to record what they learned.

  • If students are working in a Text Set, they can each read a different article and, at the end, come together with students who read the alternate text to share what they learned and develop a more comprehensive understanding of the topic.