We read a short text about Ukraine in our coursebooks. There was a reference in the text that aroused children’s interest and curiosity. It read:
A nuclear power plant accident in Chernobyl, in 1986, is still causing serious environmental problems which worry Ukrainian people. Today we don’t have enough drinking water supplies because of that accident.
This is a multilevel (A2+) sixth grade group of twenty-five twelve year old students. They were not even born when the Chernobyl accident happened, yet these two sentences provoked a series of questions on the what, why and how of the event. This interest made me think it would be worthwhile to elaborate a bit more on the accident. I framed it as a small project and drew on the KWL (Know-Want to know-Learned) strategy to set it up.
KWL (Ogle, 1986) is a reading strategy that helps guide students through a text. Students first brainstorm everything they know about a topic, then they generate a list of questions about what they want to know. After reading, they record what new information they have learned. It serves to activate background knowledge, sets a purpose for reading, and helps students monitor their comprehension. KWL is constructivist in nature. This means it asks learners to get involved in constructing meaning and knowledge.
In our case I modified the strategy to: Know-Ask-Explore-Learn.