ESL job interview question: What is the purpose for using KWL charts?

Recommended answer:

The chart is used to activate background knowledge prior to reading and is completely student-centered. 

The teacher divides a piece of chart paper into three columns. The first column, 'K', is for what the students already know about a topic. This step is to be completed before the reading. The next column, 'W', is for students to list what they want to learn about the topic during the reading. This step is also to be completed before the reading. The third column, 'L', is for what the students learned from the reading. This step, of course, is done after finishing the reading. 

The KWL chart can also be used in reading instruction at the beginning of a new unit. A teacher has many reasons for using KWL charts in the classroom. First, a KWL chart activates students' prior knowledge of the text or topic to be studied. By asking students what they already know, students are thinking about prior experiences or knowledge about the topic. Next, KWL charts set a purpose for the unit. Students are able to add their input to the topic by asking them what they want to know. Students then have a purpose for participating and engaging in the topic. Also, using a KWL chart allows students to expand their ideas beyond the text used in the classroom. 

The teacher should be aware of his/her students' interests and should have the ability to create projects and assignments that the students will enjoy. A KWL chart is a great tool that can be used to drive instruction.

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