Gulls are Great

article by Cheryl Bullow , photo by Alamy

Learning Intention:

I am learning to describe text structures and language features so that I can use metalanguage to share my opinions of a text.


Success Criteria:

  • I can describe the features of different text structures.
  • I can use metalanguage when evaluating the language features of a text.
  • I can use a graphic organiser to organise and display my evaluations of a text.


Essential knowledge:

For more information about the conventions of persuasion, see The School Magazine’s video on Argument.

For more information about the roles of the composer and the responder, see The School Magazine’s video on Authority.


Oral language and communication:

Read aloud the title Gulls are Great. Ask students to write in their workbooks answers to the following questions:

  1. What do you predict this text will be about?
  2. How do you expect this text to be structured? (i.e. Will it have a conflict and resolution? Will it use subheadings? Will it have persuasive writing?)
  3. Do you think you’ll like this text?

Invite willing students to share their answers with the class.


Understanding text: (Reading fluency, reading comprehension, UARL)

As a class, read through Gulls are Great, or if you have a digital subscription, listen to the audio recording.

Ask students to share whether any of their predictions were correct, including whether they liked the text. All students can hold up their fingers to show their rating out of ten for their evaluation of the text. Encourage students to consider what specific parts of the text they liked and didn’t like. Discuss the following as a class:

- What structural features suggest this text is an article? (Subheadings, facts, statistics)

- What do you think of the subheadings for this text? (Answers will vary – perhaps some students will find them clever while others may consider them lacking)

- What structural features suggest this text is a persuasive text? (Persuasive language, high modality words like “need”, rhetorical questioning)

- What is the argument being put forward by the text? (That gulls are great)

- Find vocabulary in the text that supports the argument “Gulls are Great”. (Incredible, resourceful, impressive, crafty, misunderstood, smart, amazing etc)

- What rhetorical question is used to support the argument “Gulls are Great”? (In fairness to the gulls, aren’t they just doing what any parent would do … protecting their young?)

- How does the text’s structure impact your opinion of the text? Does it make you like it more or less?

Have students write their answers to these questions in their workbooks.

Working in small groups, have students hunt through the text for the following language features:

  1. Alliteration (words starting with the same sound)

Answers include: feathered forages, bright birds, soaring sea birds

  1. Metaphor (saying one thing is another thing)

Answers include: mob of angry gulls, fall for that trick

  1. Idiom (an expression)

Answers include: fat chance, bad rap

  1. Personification (giving an animal or thing human attributes)

Answers include: crafty, the fun begins

Ensure students make note of their findings, then share answers with the class.


Creating text:

Explain that students will be making a graphic organiser, evaluating both the text structure and language features using the metalanguage from the previous section of the lesson. This means the graphic organiser needs to include the features of the text structure, a summary of some of the language features and an opinion on each point.

An example answer:


The subheadings for Gulls are Great use alliteration, exclamations and questions. I think they are creative and give enough information for me to quickly find specific information in the text.

The graphic organiser should also include a final rating out of ten.

Examples of types of graphic organisers students can use:

- A lift the flap poster (A Lift the Flap how-to video can be found on the British Library’s YouTube channel)

- A Concept Map

- A poster version or digital Accordion (If you have a digital subscription to The School Magazine, display the interactive accordion My Evaluation of Gulls are Great to give a full example of the task)

- A design on Canva

- Creating QR codes with links to evaluations on a poster

- A PowerPoint (Extension: capable students can use internal hyperlinks to link the text feature to a different page in the PowerPoint with their opinion)


Assessment for/as learning:

Students can use the following checklist during and after the activity:

Have I –

  • included the structural features of the text?
  • listed some of the language features used in the text?
  • given my opinion on both the structural features and language features of the text?
  • given the text a final rating out of ten?