KWHL Questioning

In the Time of the Butterflies
Julia Alvarez
KWHL (Know, Want, How, Learn)
Statement of Purpose: The questions What do I know?, What do I want to learn?, How can I
find out?, and What did I learn? create a sweeping assessment of knowledge right at the start
of a new novel. Students can take a generative understanding from a KWHL for any book they
read in the future. It is a strategy that can be used and reused for clearer understanding,
objectives, and goals when studying any topic. This strategy fosters knowledge acquisition by
specifically outlining exactly what students already know, and then guiding them to the process
of finding out more. The column form of a KWHL enables students to more easily track down
this information, and realize that gathering knowledge is an accumulative process.
Context: The KWHL could be used after the first couple chapters of In the Time of the
Butterflies have been read. After having read the first couple of chapters students are
introduced to a somewhat puzzling beginning as Dede’s modern life is portrayed. Information
about her three sisters having died martyrs years ago is apparent. There are references to a
historic war and unrest as the interviewer comes to interview Dede. The museum that honors
the sisters and their lives is referenced to, alluding to the fact that the sisters are remembered
for some kind of a sacrifice. The reader is gathering all of this knowledge without really
knowing the details of what happened. The KWHL comes in as a great probe to analyze the
mystery near the beginning. The students are able to act a little like detectives as they examine
the information they have, while concurrently getting excited for what they will learn.
Step 1: Introduce the strategy with the new topic.
Teacher will place the KWHL chart on the board or on an overhead screen. Explain that it is
important to analyze what information we would like to gather before delving into the novel;
kind of like giving us a road map before we start driving. After we organize what we know we
can generate questions that will help to focus the reading on what we want to find out. As new
questions occur they too can be written down.
Step 2: List what is known.
Brainstorm together all that is known about the topic in the first column. Record all comments,
even incorrect assumptions to encourage risk‐taking and variety in statements.
Step 3: List what they want to learn.
Jessie Jensen
BYU 2009
Probe with “What do you want to know more about” or “What questions do you have about
the topic?”. List all responses. Probe until a good list has been given.
Step 4: Students generate their own questions.
Pass out individual charts to students. Leave the class chart visible. Have each student decide
on some personal questions they would like to research or find out for themselves.
Step 5: Discuss how to find answers to questions.
As a class list possible sources for finding the answers to these questions. Guide students to
non‐streamline sources.
Step 6: Read to find out.
Allow students time to read further or do research to find answers to as many of the questions
as they can. Encourage any new notes to be recorded on their chart.
Step 7: Share answers.
Invite students to share what they have found and record them on their chart. Encourage new
questions to be recorded on the chart if they arise. Discuss the responses and answers.
Step 8: Follow‐up activity.
Usthe the KWHL results to create further learning activities such as graphic organizers, maps,
outlines, learning logs, reports and summaries.
Assesment: The KWHL strategy allows teachers to pre‐assess what students already know
about a certain topic. This pre‐assessment directs instruction over the course of the unit and
the reading of a novel. At the conclusion of the strategy teacher can examine the KWHL to
assess what has been learned and what still may need to be taught. The chart should be on
display over the course of the unit so information can be expanded upon during the time period.
Summary and Segue: Discuss with students how learning is ongoing using the example and
process of the KWHL. Reiterate how questions and answers continuously arise as more
knowledge is gained, which is why a regular use and expansion of the KWHL happened over the
course of the unit. Point out how even after the completion of the unit and the book, more
questions could still be added to the KWHL; have them list a few. Help them to see the big
picture of the KWHL and how it works in to any kind of learning (sports, hobbies, school, skills,
jobs etc…).
Jessie Jensen
BYU 2009
K-W-H-L Strategy
What I Know
Jessie Jensen
What I Want to Learn
How I Will Find Out
BYU 2009
What I
What I Know
Jessie Jensen
What I Want to Learn
How I Will Find Out
BYU 2009
What I