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K-W-L  #3
9-12 Comprehension Instruction


Essential Element:  Comprehension

Framework:  Reading
                     Standard 9:  Students shall apply a variety of strategies to read and comprehend printed material.

Preparation for the secondary English teacher has traditionally not included instruction in reading comprehension strategies; moreover, the typical reading focus for English classes has been the extensive and intensive analysis of literature.  While teachers have not been fully equipped to teach reading, at the same time they are being asked to deliver instruction to an increasing number of students who find the complexities of grade-level literature inaccessible.  Expecting teachers to be able to support struggling readers without equipping them with information and strategies is both unrealistic and unfair.  However, when teachers do have this kind of help and information, they can embed comprehension strategies in their delivery of curriculum content.  More importantly, reluctant and striving readers can become more engaged and can acquire proficient-reader strategies, thus becoming more successful in both language arts and other content areas.  (Note:  For additional information on reading comprehension strategies, see Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis).   

Because the ultimate goal of reading instruction is to improve critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, content teachers must include explicit reading strategies as an integral element of their instructional plans.  They should integrate effective comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading.  “Pre-reading prepares students for learning by activating their prior knowledge.  Pre-reading activities can benefit those whose background knowledge, command of key concepts and vocabulary may be insufficient.  In addition, pre-reading activities help students focus attention on what is most important…  Pre-reading strategies often used by proficient-level readers involve making connections, generating questions and determining important concepts…  During-reading activities prompt students to visualize, make inferences and monitor their comprehension. . . Using during-reading activities, the teacher can help students prioritize what is most essential and connect this information in a meaningful and organized way.  After-reading activities deepen understanding, helping students summarize and understand what they read. . . [these activities] go beyond merely identifying what was read and assist students with integrating new learning with previous knowledge”  (Literacy Across the Curriculum, Gene Bottoms).


  • Interesting and engaging authentic literature in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, and content specific areas, i.e., science, history, etc.  (These pieces may be chosen for whole-class instruction or they may be chosen on an individual basis to stimulate interest in reading.)

These comprehension activities are research based strategies taken directly from the Smart Step/Next Step Strategies for the Content Areas.  (Many of these activities are designed as mini-lessons requiring five to ten minutes.) 


K-W-L  #3

  • The K-W-L process can be used to enhance reading comprehension.  This activity has several benefits:
  • It engages students in active thinking and reading.
  • It allows students to activate their background knowledge and to assist in building background knowledge for others.
  • It helps the teacher to assess what areas of instruction will require more time and which can be reviewed quickly.
  • It focuses attention of questions generated prior to reading and provides a purpose for reading.
  • It leads students to summarize and synthesize what they and others have learned about the topic.
  • It encourages further questioning and additional research.


  • Brief passage of informational text.  (See “Screening Out the Sun” located at end of lesson) and the related.
  • Graphic organizer to use as a sample when modeling this activity with students.

Guided Practice

  1. Hand out copies of the K-W-L graphic organizer and tell students to record information as the class discusses and as they read.  Use available technology or the board to record student responses before and after they read.
  2. To complete the K (Know) column, lead the class to share their background knowledge about the subject of the reading passage.  Using the sample passage “Screening Out the Sun,” students might share information such as the following:   Some people tan better than others.  Sunburns are painful.  Tanning beds work better for getting a tan.  Guys who work outside can get really great tans at least from the waist up.  Sunscreen can help prevent sunburns.  Redheads usually don’t tan.  Reinforce for students the importance of background knowledge in clarifying and in remembering new information.  Teachers may choose not to correct erroneous information, preferring instead to let students discover for themselves their factual inaccuracies.
  3. To complete the W (Want To Know) column, lead the class to generate questions they have about the topic.  Review with students the importance of asking questions prior to reading and the benefit of having a purpose for reading established by those questions.  Using the sample passage “Screening Out the Sun,” students might ask the following kinds of questions:  Are tanning beds really better for you than being out in the sun?  Why does your skin tan?  Can you really get cancer from being out in the sun?  How does sunscreen work?  Why do people think they have to have a tan to look good?
  4. Provide time for students to read the passage. 
  5. To complete the L (Learned) column, allow students to share important concepts from their reading. Lead the class to note any factual inaccuracies from the K column and supply any significant information that is missing after students respond.
  6. Lead students to determine if all of their questions have been answered.  If not, discuss where to look for this information.  The class may also want to generate additional questions arising from their reading.


Tier II Additions

  • Place student in small group with a student peer with strong reading skills.
  • Provide student with a copy of text and graphic organizer in advance to allow time to study outside of class with assistance.

Tier III Accommodations/Modifications

  • Provide student with taped text in advance to allow time to study outside of class with assistance from student peer or paraprofessional.
  • Provide a partially filled out graphic organizer to student.
  • Student can use short phrases or words when completing the graphic organizer.

Tier IV Modifications

  • Instruct student to respond to fewer items on the graphic organizer with the aid of a student peer or paraprofessional.
  • Allow student to use single words or illustrations on graphic organizer.

Tier V Modifications


  • Allow student to respond to 1 teacher-selected section of the graphic organizer using any electronic means (i.e., computer, AlphaSmart, etc.) with the aid of a student peer or paraprofessional.

Copyright © 2006 Arkansas Department of Education.  All rights reserved.  School districts may reproduce these materials for in-school student use only.  No resale.  Materials may not be reproduced, distributed or sold for commercial use or profit.  ADE employees are not authorized to waive these restrictions


(Example reading passage for KWL)

Summer's on it's way, but beware, while you're preparing to catch all the rays you can, the sun is gearing up for another scorcher. That's right, all your fun in the sun could easily turn into a nightmare for your skin. But it doesn't have to. Here's the latest news on sun-related health, as well as the ins and outs of the best sunscreens and tanners on the market, so you can enjoy a worry-free summer.
Q: What is SPF?
A: SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a way of measuring the ability of sun protection products to filter or block the damaging UVB rays of the sun. It is the time that you can safely spend in the sun without burning while wearing sunscreen. For example, if you burn in five minutes without any protection, using an SPF 30 will allow you to sit in the sun 30 times longer or 150 minutes (2 1/2 hrs) before burning.
Q: Is it necessary to wear sunscreen everyday?
A: Yes. "A suntan is a sign of damaged skin," says Shail Busbey, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine, who specializes in skin problems at the University of Chicago Hospital. You get a suntan when UV radiation causes certain skin cells to produce more melanin, a pigment that protects underlying tissues. Too much sun over a long period of time is the foremost cause of aging in the skin.
Q: What are UVA and UVB rays?
A: UVB rays are the "burning rays" which are more intense during the summer months, at higher altitudes and closer to the equator. UVA rays are the "aging rays" and maintain the same intensity throughout the year, both types of rays are associated with the development of skin cancers. However, more recent research has shown UVA rays, the invisible rays that aren't blocked by windowpanes, to be the primary culprit in cancer related skin damage.
Q: What SPF should I use to protect myself against these harmful rays?
A: The American Academy of Dermatology lists the following five skin types.
Type I: (extremely sensitive) always burns, never tans
Type II: (very sensitive) burns easily, tans minimally
Type III: (sensitive) burns moderately, tans gradually to a light brown
Type IV: (minimally sensitive) burns rarely, tans well to a dark brown
Type V: (not sensitive) never burns
Dermatologists recommend sunscreens with a minimum SPF of 15 for all skin types. The fairer your skin or the longer your exposure to the sun, the higher the SPF required.

Q: Are tanning beds dangerous?
A: There is no such thing as a safe tan. Tanning lamps use ultraviolet (UV) light, similar to the UVA and UVB rays of sunlight. Tanning salons can lead to a variety of risks such as skin cancer, eye damage (even if your eyes are closed), skin damage, and a weakened immune system. Since UV radiation is intensified with tanning devices, even a short session is equal, in effect, to lying on the beach for hours.
Q: What about sunless tanners?
A: Sunless tanners are formulated to provide a natural looking "tan" that's not orange or streaky. The color of sunless tanners is produced when the ingredient DHA combines with certain natural amino acids found in the skin. The amount of color you'll develop depends on the shade of the product used, the number of times it's applied, and your own body chemistry. After application, color should develop in two to four hours, last several days, and fade like a natural tan. Because there is no sun involved, sunless tanners are relatively safe. The fewer chemicals, the better the product is for you skin and the less chance you'll have of an allergic reaction.
Q: What sunscreen brands do you recommend?
A: There are thousands of brands on the market and many of them have similar ingredients. No matter what brand you choose to buy, you should make sure of three things:
1) It is dermatologist recommended.
2) It offers broad spectrum, waterproof coverage with protection from both UVB and UVA rays.
3) It has an SPF of at least 15 and no more than 30. The FDA no longer approves sunblocks with SPF's over 30, because they are believed to encourage people to stay out in the sun for unhealthy periods of time.

Two of the most highly respected brands on the market are PreSun and Neutrogena. Both are Dermatologist recommended.
PreSun is formulated with Parsol 1789, a recently approved ingredient that provides broad-spectrum coverage. You can find PreSun at just about any drug store in spray, gel, block or cream for around $8 a bottle.
Neutrogena is great because it offers a line of non-greasy, oil-free, non-comedogenic [comedogenic:  aggravates or produces acne] sunscreens and blocks. They also have a line of fragrance-free, PABA-free lotions with sunscreen, that are waterproof and non-greasy, so they won't clog pores. Also, Neutrogena's Sunless Tanner is one of the best on the market. Neutrogena products are more expensive than PreSun, ranging in price from $10- $20 per bottle, and can be found at your local drugstore as well as just about any department store in the mall.
Banana Boat is a very popular brand that doesn't come as highly recommended, but offers one of the most inclusive arrays of suncare products on the market. Banana Boat has more sprays, gels, oils, screens, blocks, lip balms, and ointments than can be mentioned. Their products are trustworthy and can be found at drug and grocery stores, ranging in price from $6-$15 a bottle. Beware of their SPF 0 tanning oil; it offers no protection from the sun's harmful rays.

Now that you're a little wiser to the sun's relationship with your skin, have a great summer and be good to your body, it's the only one you've got.


 “Screening Out the Sun”


What do you KNOW about this topic?

What do you WANT TO KNOW about this topic?

What have you LEARNED about this topic?



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