Secondary Content Teachers
Reading Services Center
Comprehension - Non-fiction
GOAL: This strategy helps students process the material they are reading in a
Supports this Learner Characteristic:
Has prerequisite knowledge to succeed in school
Stays focused and participates in classroom discussion and group
Students will develop an active approach to reading their content texts
WHO: Content Area Teachers - Grades 4-12
Students who need to develop their ability to read and remember
WHEN: Use this procedure twice a week for 4-6 weeks.
TEACHING Strategy for Comprehending Expository Text
Use the content text to model and practice the strategy.
Students will learn to write what they know about a topic, ask
themselves questions about what they want to learn, and write what
they have learned from reading the text.
STEP 1 Divide the board into three sections. Label them in this
K (What do I know)
W (What do I want to know)
L (What did I learn).
Write the topic of the chapter or selection students are to
read on the board.
Distribute student charts for individual responses.
STEP 2 Engage students in a discussion of what they already
know about the topic. List student responses on the
board under K.
When disagreements and questions emerge, note them
and write the concerns under the W as a possible
question to answer when students begin reading. Have
students write what they feel they know on their
STEP 3 Have students decide what questions they have about
the topic and write it on their charts. Write some of the
student questions on the board.
STEP 4 Students are to read the text and jot down information
they are learning in the third column L. Also, encourage
students to write new questions they think of as they are
reading in the W column.
STEP 5 After students have completed reading the text, discuss
what students learned in their reading and write some of
the student responses in the third column on the board.
If some of the questions were not answered in the text,
encourage students to look for the answers in other text.
The most effective way to present this strategy is by teacher modeling,
making his/her own thought processes visible.
Students who do not seem to have sufficient background knowledge
about a topic may need to work on a more concrete level. The followin
may be helpful:
o Have students look at illustrations before beginning the KWL
Preview critical vocabulary terms from the text.
To further expand the students' understanding, have them
complete a semantic map of the details in the selection.
STUDENT Choose 2-5 subheadings from the upcoming chapter and write them on
PRACTICE: the board. Give students a KWL chart for each subheading. Have
students work through the strategy. Students read the first subheading
and complete the K and W. They continue this procedure with the othe
subheadings on the board. Next, students read the information in their
texts and write what they learned on the charts.
CHECK-UP: After students have practiced several KWL charts, have students
complete a KWL chart for the next assigned chapter. Check student
responses for understanding of the strategy and of the text.
FOLLOW-UP: Students who do not seem to have any background knowledge about a
topic indicates that the students may have limited vocabulary and
experiences. Working on a more concrete level with illustrations
(having students look at all illustrations before beginning the KWL
chart) may help. Also, previewing critical vocabulary terms that are
included in the text may assist students with a better understanding of
the topic and provide some background knowledge before students
To further expand the student's understanding, have them complete a
semantic map of the details in the selection. E.g.