Revision Strategies: Working with WAGOLLS

Using WAGOLLS (What A Good One Looks Like) or model answers in lessons is an essential component of exam preparation. When I use them in lessons, I usually work through the same process with occasional variations. I work with the class to write a WAGOLL under the visualiser, which I then photocopy for the next lesson; students students stick a copy in their books and annotate it using a set of success criteria – and then students go on to use this as the foundation for their own piece of writing.

This week I switched things up a bit, and wrote a “perfect” WAGOLL for a Year 13 feedback lesson. Students had written an essay on Tony Harrison’s poetry, and when I read them I realised that they needed to sharpen their analysis of his use of the sonnet structure. After explaining this problem to the class, I gave them a copy of this paragraph:

After discussing how this paragraph differed from their attempts, and how my version successfully fulfilled the criteria on the mark scheme, I wanted to add an interim step before students redrafted their own work. So a rehearsal activity was born.

Step 1: condense and rehearse

Students had two minutes to select their three favourite phrases from the paragraph, and then I used their feedback to condense the WAGOLL into bullet points.

Students were divided into pairs and I modelled how to talk through the bullet points, approximating the wording from the original paragraph. I explained that this was not about the class learning my analysis word for word, but rather that the activity would help them to combine the best attributes of my work with their own individual analytical style.

Each student then spoke to their partner for 1 minute about Harrison’s use of the sonnet structure, including as many of the bullet points as possible. I then randomly sampled the class, asking students to speak again for 1 minute, and providing feedback on their explanations to improve their clarity.

Step 2: condense and rehearse… again

We went through the process again – this time, cutting down the bullet points to even shorter phrases.

Then students had time to rehearse their explanations in pairs again, as explained above.

Step 3: condense and rehearse… again!

This step proved quite challenging, as we cut the bullet points right down to one or two trigger words. However, every student managed to talk for a minute.

Step 5: write

Students then had 5 minutes to use our final list to write a paragraph explaining Harrison’s use of the sonnet form, and this provided the “green pen” element of the lesson.

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