One of the first graphic organizers that I was taught to use was the KWL chart. It’s almost a cliché anymore.

Why? Because it was overused. Kids got tired of it.

Mostly because most kids didn’t use it the way it was intended. I taught middle school and when most of my kids got to the “What do you want to know?” or “What did you learn?” sections, they would simply write “nothing.”

There is something better.

Try Ready-Set-Go-Whoa! instead.

Purpose: The basic purpose of Ready-Set-Go-Whoa! is the same as a KWL – provide an opportunity to activate prior knowledge and cement that with new content. But Ready-Set-Go-Whoa asks the questions in a subtly different way that encourages higher-level thinking.

Directions: Assign a reading – this could be from your text, fiction, non-fiction, web-based or even an oral reading. Give each student the Ready-Set-Go-Whoa! chart.

  1. Have them brainstorm and write down what they know (or think they know) about the topic in the READY box.
  2. Have students predict what they think they will learn in the SET box. This is one of the small differences in wording that I think makes a big difference. Not what they “want” to learn but what new information will they have.
  3. Have students read or listen to the text.
  4. They should jot down any new information that they have gathered in the GO box. Again, a subtle difference in wording. Not what did you learn but what new information do you have now that you didn’t have before.
  5. Have them evaluate what they thought they knew to what they learned from the text. Were they right? Wrong?
  6. Finally, have them jot down any remaining questions that were left unanswered in the WHOA box.

This activity is a great way to let kids learn more about the basics of doing research on any given topic as well as a great before/during/after reading activity. (Get a PDF version of the chart here.)

Let me know how it works out for you! Have fun!