Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Taking your time to get it right - Slow Writing


Twitter has been a constant source of ideas and inspiration and once again it led me to a different way of approaching writing.  Anything about writing usually grabs my attention these days as for the first time in many years I had no answers as to why my class struggled with writing.

I had a class that orally produce wonderful ideas during shared writing but when it came to them independently producing their own work it was like pulling teeth. We had the vocabulary wall; I modelled sentences, used creative prompts, media etc. but the harder I seem to work the less engaged they became. The last thing I wanted to do was turn them off writing so I began to question what I could do. Thankfully a tweet from @redgierob  came just at the right time.

Slow writing is getting students to slow right down in order to think about their technique.  The idea is to get students to slow the hell down and approach each word, sentence and paragraph with love and attention. Obviously they’ll write less but what they do write will be beautifully wrought and finely honed’. David Didau 

Thankfully my class was already clued up on different types of literacy elements thanks to all the work we did on this during our poetry slam unit. Therefore I didn’t have to spend any extra time teaching them these concepts.
In our first lessons there were a few hiccups. Because it was set out as below, some of my students completely forgot everything I had taught them about a sentence and tried to write a sentence on one line! Once we got over that hurdle everything started to come together.

Sentence one must appeal to the senses.
Sentence two must use three adjectives.
Sentence three must start with an adverb.
Sentence four must contain a connective.
Sentence five must use exactly three words.
Sentence six must be a question.

image sourced from

I used some short films courtesy of The Literacy Shed (which I love!).  We used the Ghostly Shed as I knew it would grab my boy’s attention. The great thing about these films were that most were less than two minutes long and there was no dialogue meaning the students had to use the music and visual to ‘read’ the story.

I spent the week working on this and each day I would add six more different sentences so by the end of the week we had four different models up on our board. As my students became more confident in this process they began to mix the sentences around. Students also began to realize that there was usually a pattern to the six sentences and that it was quite easy to create their own.

What transpired was some amazing writing. Even better, I had students who usually struggled with writing now enjoying it and telling me how easy it was to write!

Ruth is a Christchurch Primary School Teacher. Follow her on Twitter @ChCH_based


  1. Thanks so much for sharing Ruth and for including a practical guide on how to approach slow writing. Really cool you linked to The Literacy Shed as a resource! This is the sort of blog post that convinces those sitting on the fence with social media to take the plunge and give it a go! Thanks again, Aimie

  2. Hi Ruth, Thanks for sharing the great writing your learners are doing. I love the Literacy Shed- a really great resource. Thanks for sharing it.