Skip to content
Start improving your work-life balance - try PlanBee for FREE for 7 days
Start improving your work-life balance - try PlanBee for FREE for 7 days

WAGOLL

WAGOLL meaning

WAGOLL is an acronym which stands for What A Good One Looks Like.

Children are required by the National Curriculum to learn how to write a variety of different text types during their time at primary school. A WAGOLL is essentially a model text which shows children what they are aiming for when learning about a particular type of writing. It contains the key features of the text type and can be analysed so that children understand how to write in that genre.

 


Why is WAGOLL useful?

A WAGOLL is useful as it contains the key features of the text type being studied. For example, if children are learning how to write instructions, it is useful to have a really good example of an instructions text. This would be the WAGOLL.

Children could then read the text and pick out its key features. For example, they might identify use of time adverbials, numbered steps, a clear heading, a bullet pointed list, command sentences with imperative verbs etc. This can form a useful list of success criteria for when producing their own writing.

It is useful therefore to have a WAGOLL since children know what should be included within the text type being studied and also how the text should be laid out.

 

Below: In Castles English Lesson Pack on the key features of non-chronological reports, children are shown the key features of the text type in a WAGOLL.


Where can I get a WAGOLL from?

If possible, find a real-life version of the text type being studied which demonstrates the key features you want children to include in their own writing.

However, as this is not always possible, teachers very often find themselves writing their own WAGOLL so that they can ensure the text is at the correct reading difficulty for their class and which includes the key features of the text type. In order to write your WAGOLL, we have some FREE downloadable posters which list the key features of some of the most common writing genres:


How can WAGOLL be used in the classroom?

1. Shared reading

Shared reading sessions are a great way to introduce a WAGOLL to your class. The text can be displayed on the board and can be read as a class. Tricky vocabulary can be identified and explained to the children. During the process of shared reading, questions can be asked by the teacher to help children notice the key features of the text type and understand why they are present.

For example, if looking at an instructions text as a WAGOLL, children could be asked questions such as:

"What do you notice about the heading?"

"Why does the heading need to be big?"

"How is the writing laid out?"

"Why is it effective for the writing to be laid out in this way?"

"Would the instructions be easy to follow if it wasn't laid out in numbered steps? Why?"

"Why do you think adverbs have been used?"

 

During the shared reading of a WAGOLL, it is a good idea to identify some of the key language features in an enlarged part of the beginning of the text. Children could then work with a partner to see if they can find other examples in the rest of the text. If we stick with our instructions example, you could pick out the time adverbials, imperative verbs and adverbs in the first three steps and then children could be tasked to identify other examples in the rest of the text. Highlighters are useful for this!

As key features of the text type are identified in the WAGOLL, they can be written up on the board to form a list of success criteria for that text type. This is a really useful strategy as the success criteria list can be referred to during shared and modelled writing. It could also be printed off for children to use when producing their own writing or used as an assessment tool.

 

2. Find the features!

After shared reading of the WAGOLL, it can be a really useful to plan in an activity where children are tasked with spotting the key features of the text type in an alternative WAGOLL. That way, you can check if children have understood what the key features are and why they are needed.

The new WAGOLL could be given to the children alongside the success criteria list drawn up during shared reading. They could then, for example, colour code the key features they find by highlighting both the success criteria and the WAGOLL in a range of colours. Another idea is to give children the key features on cards which they then stick around the WAGOLL on a big sheet of paper with lines drawn to examples of each feature.

 
3. Compare to a bad example

It may seem counter-intuative but showing children a version of the text type being studied that does not contain the key features identified in the WAGOLL is a good strategy for helping children see why the key features are required. For example, showing the children a version of instructions which does not have the usual numberd steps, heading or ingredient list is useful for getting them to realise how hard these would be to follow!

You could display the WAGOLL next to the 'bad version' of the text type and encourage children to spot as many differences as they can. Alternatively, they could be asked to justify why the WAGOLL is a better version. This could make a really effective plenary in order to deepen the children's understanding of the text type.  

Below: In the Lighthouse keeper's lunch English Lesson Pack on the key features of instructions, children compare the WAGOLL to a poor example of instructions:

 

4. Cut it up!

For some text types, where layout is really important, cutting up the WAGOLL and asking children to stick it back together again can be a really useful way to check that children have understood how the text type should be laid out on the page. For example, after reading the WAGOLL in a unit on instructions, children could be given an alternative 'cut up' WAGOLL and asked to read and stick it back together. Will the children remember to have the heading at the top? Will they remember to put the introduction above the list of ingredients?

 

5. Success Criteria

When first reading a WAGOLL with your class, it is important that all of your questioning helps them to pick out the key features of the text type and really understand why these features are necessary. As the features are identified, a list of success criteria can be drawn up.

The success criteria could be written up nice and big on flip chart paper and displayed on the learning wall to be referred to throughout the unit.

You could also start the following lesson with the elements of the success criteria covered up. Can the children recall what the key features of the WAGOLL were?

The success criteria list could be used to support children as a checklist when writing their own version of the WAGOLL.

Once children have had a go at writing their own version of the text type, the success criteria list could be given to the children on cards and they could be asked to self-assess their own writing or evaluate the writing of a partner.

 

Below: In HS2 Persuasive Writing - The Key Features of Persuasive Writing Lesson Pack, analysis of a WAGOLL leads to the building up of a success criteria list that can be used when children plan and write their own version.

6. Put it on display!

Once you have read and analysed the WAGOLL with your class, it is important to display the WAGOLL in your classroom. It is a good idea to have the text printed out really BIG with pieces of string pinned up from the key features to labels around the outside of the text.

By having the WAGOLL on display in your classroom in this way, children can refer to it throughout the unit to support them with their writing.

 

7. Homework

When children have read the WAGOLL as a class and have understood its key features, an alternative version of the WAGOLL could be given to the children to take home. They could be tasked with identifying the key features of this new text as a homework task.

 

 

 

 

Lesson Packs Castles: Non-chronological Reports - The key features of non-chronological reports


Lesson Packs The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch: Instructions - key Features of Instructions


Lesson Packs HS2: Persuasive Writing - The Key Features of Persuasive Writing

Lesson Packs Explanation Texts - Features of an Explanation Text

Lesson Packs The Great Kapok Tree: Persuasive Writing - Features