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What ought to we do with WAGOLLs?

Few lecturers would educate writing in major or secondary school rooms with out utilizing a WAGOLL to mannequin writing for novice pupils. The language of ‘WAGOLL’s – or ‘What A Good One Looks Like’ – is frequent, however there could also be much less shared understanding about the right way to use them most successfully within the classroom.

You’ll find numerous lecturers utilizing totally different language to explain WAGOLLS. They’re described as ‘mentor texts’ in a variety of analysis on writing. Alternatively, they’re a model of ‘labored examples’ (though this label is extra sometimes used to explain accomplished issues in maths, and extra). Just a little imitation is important. It’s nothing new: variations on this technique have existed for hundreds of years and have probably caught for a cause.

It’s generally accepted that studying with a author’s eye, and being uncovered to numerous nice writing, is more likely to show useful to pupils studying to put in writing. Analysis proof routinely backs this up:

“College students are inspired to analyse examples and to emulate the crucial parts, patterns and kinds embodied within the fashions in their very own writing.”

Graham and Perin, 2007

What are the ideas for utilizing WAGOLLS successfully?

In observing educating, doing a bit myself, and surveying proof and insights on writing, I feel there are helpful ideas for utilizing WAGOLLS:

  • Utilise a number of WAGOLLs the place doable. When pupils are confronted with one instance of excellent writing, they too typically merely imitate it. However shift pupils to evaluating two examples and pupils start to raised to discriminate their key components. When you have three examples – this could possibly be a bit overwhelming – however with extra assured pupils, they start to get a wealthy image of writing kinds and strikes for their very own writing. They will higher discover patterns of writing high quality (while getting a wholesome dose of studying).
  • Guarantee pupils dig beneath the floor options of WAGOLLs. For novice pupils, it’s comprehensible that they’d fixate on floor options of examples. As an illustration, for a written argument, they might discover the variety of paragraphs, however not discern the essential argument construction (e.g. such because the traditional ‘thesis, antithesis, synthesis’ construction). Subtle vocabulary could be seen to pupils, however they don’t discover there’s a subtly related sample of language. Express educating of an important components of the WAGOLL is important.
  • Apply the ‘Goldilocks precept’ to WAGOLLs. Too typically, we will use examples which can be merely past the attain of pupils to mimic nicely. As an illustration, if we’re educating advanced sentence constructions, utilising Dickens, and David Copperfield, isn’t all the time ideally suited. We will apply the Goldilocks precept: guaranteeing the instance is inside attain. An excellent instance is utilizing previous pupil exemplar – with their comprehensible flaws and errors – and never easy essentially the most subtle examples we will discover.
  • Learn aloud, annotate, and guarantee pupils pay shut consideration to sentence-level decisions. Pupils can choose an excellent piece of writing after they see one, however they’ll simply miss nuanced results. By studying the WAGOLL aloud, while narrating the author’s potential pondering and sentence decisions, we assist pupils discover nuances of writing craft. We have now been annotating to concentrate to writing strikes, for hundreds of years, so let’s be deliberate and explicitly mannequin good high quality annotation too.

We will be certain that pupils can translate these ideas by making use of sensible educating methods which can be based mostly on mentioned ideas.

As an illustration, we will guarantee pupils are discriminating between a number of WAGOLLs with a ‘Gold, Silver, Bronze’ method to check a trio of examples. In fact, the medal isn’t key. It’s about encouraging pupils to elucidate the salient variations and the important thing components that make for a ‘gold’ exemplar. ‘Comparative judgement’ (mobilised in school stage by the likes of ‘No Extra Marking’) can encourage the speedy evaluating of paired instance for a similar functions.

We might additional delve into the writers’ intentions with a WAGOLL by studying it aloud, annotating, however then ‘Reverse engineering’ a plan for that piece of writing. By getting pupils to plot a plan for an excellent exemplar, we get them to actually discover the writerly strikes. We additionally mannequin and prioritise efficient planning processes (a trademark of excellent writers).

WAGOLLs are already used with nice ability, in a big vary of classroom settings. However slightly extra precision, and specific intent in how we should always use them successfully, we might assist pupils make marginal however important beneficial properties of their writing improvement.  

Extra on writing improvement:

  • I argue we have to ‘Write much less; Learn Extra‘ – HERE.
  • I share my concepts for ‘Crafting Nice Sentences‘ – HERE.
  • You should purchase my e-book on ‘Closing the Writing Hole‘ on Amazon HERE and Routledge HERE (strive GAP30 for a reduction!).
  • There’s a final change to affix my TeachologyClosing the Writing Hole Masterclass‘ in Birmingham -Sixteenth June – and Manchestertwenty third June (each in individual and through video for Manchester) – discover out extra HERE.