WAGOLL stands for ‘what a good one looks like’. It can be a model text or exemplification of any kind to help a child understand what sort of thing they are aiming for in their work to meet learning objectives.
In many aspects of life, it helps to know where you’re going or what you’re aiming for.
That’s why recipe books have mouth-watering photos of the finished dish and flat-packed furniture instructions show an illustration of the fully-constructed wardrobe, even though you know in your heart of hearts that the chances of your efforts matching it are minimal. In short, it really helps to see WAGOLL – What A Good One Looks Like.
How can you incorporate the spirit of WAGOLL in your classroom? Here are a few tips for adding realism to your pupils’ aspiration.
WAGOLL teaching – It’s not cheating
There might be a tendency for the more independent-minded teacher to think that they should be able to guide pupils towards perfect outcomes just through the quality of their instruction. If this sounds like you, think again. There are many different directions in which any piece of work could go. Providing a little glimpse of the desired end-point is not cheating – it’s helping them to find their own way.
In any case, remember that you are typically trying to help your class learn specific skills, not submit original work for publication and review. Seeing what a good one looks like might take some of the pressure of creativity off their young shoulders and allow them to focus on specific skills. It should also help them to feel a sense of satisfaction when they produce something that resembles the example they were shown at the beginning.
Model texts – be selective
Choose your WAGOLL examples with care. Make sure they provide the most accurate idea of what you are looking for, including all the teaching points that you will be covering.
There are plenty of places you find model texts, but you could save yourself a long search by using our own WAGOLL resources, such as our KS1 SATs practice packs that include texts specially chosen for their pitch and subject coverage.
School writing portfolio
Of course, some of your own pupils will produce work that really ticks all the boxes and shows what genuine schoolchildren can achieve. In which case, don’t be afraid to hold up these examples as a shining beacon to subsequent year groups.
In case your school tends to move teachers around from year to year, why not create a school-wide writing portfolio that you can all contribute to and draw inspiration from?
Explore a classic book with kids
There is also a lot to be said for going back to the classics. Not only does it address a national emphasis to include literature in the curriculum, but the older ones can be used royalty-free, provided the author has been dead for more than 70 years.
Best of all, there are some cracking stories there that have enchanted young readers for generations. Why not check out our collection of classic reading packs for examples that have been specially selected for their suitability?
Great teaching ideas – highlight example texts
Once you have found your exemplary text, get busy with the highlighter (on a copy you’re allowed to deface, of course). After all, it’s one thing telling pupils about certain features of writing, but it’s quite another to be able to show how they’ve been used in context. There’s no harm in making sure that they stand out to the reader.
Annotate the model text
To take highlighting a step further, add annotations around the text. This will allow you to add a lasting commentary about the specific points you want pupils to notice and explain precisely how they enhance a piece of writing.
If possible, why not make copies available for the class to refer to in a lesson as they are crafting their own versions? You could even make a classroom display out of them.
More great ideas – writing on the wall
You will probably routinely use a working wall to support your teaching as you progress through each writing unit. Why not enhance it with WAGOLL examples as you go along? It doesn’t matter whether they are children’s work, model texts or published extracts as long as they help to emphasise the particular skills you are teaching the class to develop.
Positive approaches – Set the bar
Use WAGOLL resources to help you create meaningful success criteria. If the pupils can see what a good example looks like, it will help them to know whether they have successfully incorporated that feature within their own writing.
WAGOLL resources – embrace editing
You can’t expect a student to get it right first time. There’s no harm in reminding children that even the most successful authors have editors to help them turn their work into the best versions they can be.
Of course, there are many different features of a piece of writing that can be improved, which is why the idea of editing stations has really taken hold. As the children move around from station to station, they check their work for the specific feature highlighted at each stop.
If you want help with creating editing stations in your own classroom, look no further than our own resource pack, which contains everything you need to get started.
WAGOLL teaching – peer assessment
Even adults can get self-conscious about opening up their work to public scrutiny. However, it is often something that benefits not only the creator but also the reviewer, so it is well worth introducing peer assessment at an early age.
This could involve a brief written commentary or perhaps a separate, peer-assessment column on a success criteria checklist. Even the process of trying to find features in a classmate’s work should give them ideas about how to use them in their own writing.
You might also want to provide a structure for including more subjective feedback, perhaps by urging reviewers to say two things they liked and one way in which the text could be improved.
If these ideas look good to you, use them to set your sights on exemplary lessons and outcomes.