Since first writing about Slow Writing back in May 2012 the original post has had almost 12,000 views and I’ve received regular emails and tweets from teachers who have been inspired to use and adapt what is in essence an incredibly simple idea. Last week I got just such an email from primary teacher, Michael Lomas. His tweak is so simple and so good I thought I should share it with you.

Just thought I would fire off a quick email to let you know that I have been having a go at using Slow Writing in my Year 2 (age 6 and 7) English lessons after reading about it on your blog. My favourite incarnation of this activity starts with pulling apart a model text and getting inside its bones to find out what makes it work. Then we steal the structure, and use slow writing to create our own versions (usually on a different, but related topic).

For the examples below, we unpicked a piece of descriptive nature writing from Under the Sea about life in the oceans. We are studying oceans in science and geography, and this text is surprisingly rich in descriptive language, and is sprinkled liberally with some lovely alliteration – something I wanted to teach last week. It recounts a journey through the ocean. It’s factually accurate, but also vivid and descriptive (think Ice Bear by Nicola Davies – if you’re familiar with it). I used sentences from the book (and a few of my own lesser examples) to construct the model text and to create the following list of rules:

  1. Write a ‘did you know’ question
  2. Start the sentence with a preposition
  3. Describe something in the coral reef picture using alliteration
  4. Write an interesting simile
  5. Write a sentence with two adjectives before the noun and  that includes a scientific word
  6. Start with an adverb (___ly word)
  7. Pick a sea creature from the coral reef and describe how it moves with two powerful verbs.

Every time I have used Slow Writing, in a variety of different forms and contexts, it has always resulted in excellent writing. I find that the younger children especially become freed up a little bit by the rules, and can really focus on their language choices.

Attached are a few examples of work produced in the lesson. Not bad, eh!


Of course, Slow Writing isn’t complete until after work has been redrafted. Here is a finished example:

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Thanks for the continued inspiration and occasional amusement!

I love the idea of using a mentor text to create bespoke writing prompts – so simple and yet so effective. I’m irritated I didn’t think of it myself! This could be an essential addition to any teacher’s toolkit when teaching students to construct subject specific, high-quality extended writing.

And if that doesn’t convince you to give it a go, have a look at this post on crafting beautiful analytic sentences.