An Update to the Upgraded KWL for the 21st Century

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

In 2011, I wrote a blog post, titled Upgrade your KWL Chart to the 21st Century. It described how I learned about a new version of the traditional KWL (What do I Know, What do I Want to know and what have I Learned) via Chic Foote as it snuck in an “H“(How will I find out). That “H” seemed to make the increased importance of the information literacy visible. I ended up on Maggie Hos-McGrane’s blog, which, according to John Barell’s book Why are School Buses always Yellow?, added yet two other abbreviations (“A“- What action will I take and “Q“-What further Questions do I have?) to make up a KWHLAQ acronym.

The blog post included the visual chart below, which seemed to have made it the most popular blog post searched for and shared on Langwitches of all times. That seemed to demand an update to the visual after 4 years. 🙂 KWHLAQ chart templateI have used the chart consistently over the last few years as a framework to upgrade FOR the 21st century in lesson planning, professional development workshops, coaching and working directly with students and teachers. An essential component of sharing, as a teacher, is the knowledge that one’s work has an impact on other teachers and students, who most likely one will never meet. It is even more gratifying reading of the excellent work others have done:

I have also used the KWHLAQ chart as one framework to promote Reflection as Part of the Learning Process, Not as an Add-on. In the following visual below I share ideas of how to embed the KWHLAQ framework in analog and digital activities.


I am continuing to be intrigued by John Barell’s original inquiry strategy, how to use to bring awareness and experience opportunities for modern learning skills and literacies. Since Project Zero’s Visible Thinking Routines have been playing an integral part of my continuous work of Documenting4Learning, is was an easy connection to bring in the routines as a strategy in the KWHLAQ flow.

The new visual below is intended to give teachers and students more choices of make their thinking and learning visible using the following platforms, activities, tools, Visible Thinking Routines as an option or starting off point. The suggestions include tools and platforms that are specifically suited to connect, collaborate, communicate and create, 21st century style, one’s process and make it easier to amplify and to document4learning. The framework is based on

  • REFLECTION being an integral part of the learning process
  • the understanding that through technology tools our access to INFORMATION has exponentially expanded as well
  • our ability to take ACTION beyond affecting people we are able to reach face to face
  • that technology tools allow us to express and communicate in OTHER FORMS of media beyond words and text


What do you think? What other platforms, tools and activities would you include and organize according to the KWHLAQ chart? Let’s crowdsource more resources for the use of KWHLAQ for the 21st Century!

Global Awareness via Snapchat Life Stories

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

I am fascinated how the social media platform Snapchat is bringing global awareness to its users! I noticed specific cities appearing for 24 hours on the app:

  • In small tidbits
  • in a collaborative manner (users at a specific geographic location are invited to submit a few seconds of their “perception” of what life in their city looks like)
  • raising interest to immediately watch it by  making it available for a limited time (reminded me of the Beanie Baby craze of introducing and retiring certain animals to make people run for the stores and increasing value)

Since then I have seen on Twitter


and on blogs,


people gearing up to showcase their city. What types of tidbits should be included? How to best shine the light on their favorite:

  • activities
  • food traditions
  • how to get around their city
  • landmarks and famous sites
  • language and colloquialism
  • wild life
  • leisure time
  • festivals/celbrations
  • traditions
  • street music
  • sports

The city to be showcased becomes an event on a certain day and allows people who have their geolocation enabled to submit their snapchats for inclusion in the city’s life story (For details: How to Post to Our Stories)

So far the cities, like  Manchester, UK, Barcelona, Spain, Nairobi, Kenya, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Los Angeles, USA among others have been officially “snapchatted” and curated. For a complete list of cities and events that have been showcased, take a look at What is on Snapchat Stories Today?

Today on June 5th, Brisbane, Australia was featured:

IMG_0414    IMG_0419 IMG_0421 IMG_0422 IMG_0425 IMG_0426

IMG_0424 IMG_0427 IMG_0433

Below are some reactions to the Brisbane Snapchat story of today (and a couple of other twitter reactions to Snapchat Life Event Stories ) in terms of global awareness. Also, remember that over 70% of their users are under the age of 25)


snapchatlife3 snapchatlife4 snapchatlife5 snapchatlife6 snapchatlife7 snapchatlife8 snapchatlife9 snapchatlife10  snapchatlife12 snapchatlife13

The idea of using the social media platform, where the under 25 crowd already hangs out (their turf) and finding a way to “feed them tidbits” of global awareness (“hey there is life outside your backyard” or thinking and discussing critically what stereotypes, misconceptions about a city/country are)  is note worthy. I am wondering how to bring this into the classroom. With older students you could directly go into Snapchat to look and react to the City Life Event. For youunger students, I am thinking of the possibilities of using an app like 1 Second Everyday  to capture short video clips to tell a story of awareness, learning and sharing.

I would love for Snapchat to give their users to create their OWN events and invite collaborators to contribute to these event stories. Think about the possibilities for field trips, exchange programs, collaborative units of inquiry (transportation, immigration, how do living things adapt to survive?, etc.). Can you imagine the global collaboration possibilities and the critical thinking and “NOW” literacies involved to make decisions of what, how and where to capture in order to tell and share “the story”?

How do you imagine using the concept of event/story feature on Snapchat with your students?

More interesting articles about Snapchat:

How to bring Social Media to a Conference focused on Learning… not Technology?

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

cross-posted to the Langwitches Blog

Social Media has given educators the opportunity for self-directed, collaborative and connected learning. Network literacy , according to Eric Hellweg, requires a basic understanding of network technology, intelligence, capabilities and the ability of crafting one’s own network identity.

So, how do you bring the benefits of social media to a conference without making the conference ABOUT social media or technology? How do you share the basics of connecting and learning collaboratively with attendees who are newbies?

The question is how do you bring social media to a conference (?) where:

  • most attendees and presenters might have heard of social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest
  • maybe 30 % have an account in one of the platforms
  • at best less than 5% or conference participants are active and fluent on these platforms

The BIG idea behind bringing social media to a(ny) conference is to bring awareness to social networking for (and as) professional development, opportunities to practice these skills & literacies and create a culture  of sharing best practices and collaboration! How do we make it visible to newbies that it is NOT about technology, but about learning, sharing and connecting that learning?

I have been wrestling with the issue “It is NOT about technology“/ It IS about Technology for a while ( Never Was About Technology?– Time to Focus on Learning?, Take the Technology out of the Equation) and of course, it is not about the technology (it is about learning), but I am observing more and more educators , who are not comfortable with nor technology literate, are being left out of/ behind LEARNING opportunities.

How do we bring these learning opportunities to more educators?

I have reflected about the use of social media at conferences frequently:

How can conference organizers prepare for a conference and to be able to give attendees the opportunity to PARTICIPATE and EXPERIENCE the power of collaborative learning. For crowdsourcing, collaborative note taking and documentation from a variety of perspectives and locations, you NEED, well, a variety of people to contribute. It is imperative to not turn the conference into a conference about technology and social media, but make sure that the focus and emphasis stays on learning as we are using technology as an amplification and redefinition tool.

I have brainstormed steps in order to facilitate a “Watch- Do- Learn” approach.

Pre-Conference: Bring awareness to social media as a learning tool, introduce conference attendees to social media and networking and make further resources to learn more about social media available

  • Organized Twitter Chat or webinar
  • Creation of a Twitter account upon conference registration
  • Social Media resources available
  • Presenters and keynote speakers briefed and prepared to embed Social Media reminders into sessions

During the Conference: Give attendees hands-on experience, reflection and sharing time

  • Help Desk
  • Breakout Session
  • Tidbit sessions
  • Built-in reflection time
  • Mixed Cohort/ Social Media Team (Students/Teachers)
  • Presenters embed Social Media awareness and practice time
  • Backchannel Display: Strategic Location

Post-Conference: Reflective, connected, collaborative and networked

  • Reflective blog posts contributed to a central blog hub
  • Debriefing organized via Twitter chat or conference hashtag
  • Local coaching to connect and amplify learning when conference participants return to their home schools


Social-Media-conference-tolisanoWhat are some of your approaches/ideas to bringing social media for/as learning to conferences without making the conference about social media and technology?