Using a TWLH chart to document inquiry

Primary Connections has developed an adaptation of the KWL chart. A TWLH chart is a learning tool used to elicit students’ prior knowledge by asking what students Think they know, determine questions students Want to know answers to, document what has been Learned, and How students know they’ve learned.

A learning tool commonly used in classrooms is the KWL chart. It is used to elicit students’ prior Knowledge, determine questions students Want to know answers to, and document what has been Learned.

Primary Connections has developed an adaptation called the TWLH chart.

T - ‘What we think we know’ is used to elicit students’ background knowledge and document existing understanding and beliefs. It acknowledges that what we ‘know’ might not be the currently accepted scientific understanding.

W - ‘What we want to learn’ encourages students to list questions for investigation. Further questions can be added as students develop their understanding.

L - ‘What we learned’ is introduced as students develop explanations for their observations. These become documented as ‘claims’.

H - ‘How we know’ or ‘How we came to our conclusion’ is completed at the same time as the third column (L) and encourages students to record the evidence and reasoning that lead to their new claim, which is a key characteristic of science. This last question requires students to reflect on their investigations and learning and to justify their claims.

As students reflect on their observations and understandings to complete the third and fourth columns, ideas recorded in the first column should be reconsidered and possibly confirmed, amended, or discarded, depending on the investigation findings.


  • The TWLH chart could be used to scaffold students’ representations of their developing understanding. In their science journal, students representing current thinking based on evidence they’ve gathered during hands-on investigations.
  • Sort students’ ideas into rows to categorise them by sub-topic on the TWLH chart. This is useful for tracking the change in conceptual understanding over time. E.g. sub-topics when learning about natural disasters could be volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis etc. Sub-topics when learning about eucalypts could be seeds, habitats, animals, life cycles, etc. See samples below.


1 row of a TWLH chart

Topic: Biological sciences, Biological sciences (year 3)

What we
think we know
What we
want to learn
What we
(what are our claims)
How we know
(what is our evidence, and where did our data come from)
Seeds need light to grow.Can eucalypt seeds grow if they are covered by the leaves on the ground and don't get any light?The amount o flight affects the germination of eucalypt seeds.No seeds germinated from eucalypt seeds that were covered by leaves. Six seeds germinated from the eucalypt seeds that weren't covered by leaves.*

*The TWLH chart tracks learning through inquiry. In doing so it is a living record, co-created with students, and may demonstrate evidence of lingering alternative conceptions worthy of further interrogation, questioning and investigation. This is a great way to support students’ questioning and thinking like scientists.

Discuss with colleagues

One of the challenges in a classroom is to encourage all students (even the quiet students) to ask science questions for the ‘What do we WANT to learn’ section of the TWLH chart.

  • Discuss how you could encourage students to participate in the completion of this section of the TWLH chart.
  • Complete the T and W sections of a TWLH chart for how to encourage students to ask science questions in the classroom.
  • Read the Cultivate a questioning culture in the classroom section of the Primary Connections Pedagogical Toolbox.
  • Complete the ‘What we LEARNED’ and ‘HOW we know’ section of the TWLH chart.