Strategy 4: K-W-C

Arthur Hyde and colleagues have adapted the K-W-L strategy to use in mathematics problem solving:

K – What do we know?
W – What do we want to find out?
C – What are the constraints – special conditions, tricks to watch out for?

Try it with a problem:

How many different ways can a person make change for a quarter?

These questions help students think about the problem, to produce an understanding of what’s going on and what they have to figure out. They help students read the problem carefully, asking questions of the text, themselves, and the author.
Here’s another problem to try, using K-W-C:

Square within a square:
The outer square was marked at the midpoints of each side. Then the midpoints were connected to form an inner square.
What’s the relationship between the area of the inner square and the area of the outer square?

  • What do you know?
  • What do you want to find out?
  • What are the special conditions or constraints in this problem?

Hyde, Arthur. Comprehending Math: Adapting Reading Strategies to Teach Mathematics. Heinemann, 2006