Overview of creative sentence structures
Embedding Slow Writing

By explicitly teaching a range of sentence structures and prompting students to use them to create particular effects in short writing tasks we can provide them with the metacognitive tools to be better writers.

Expert writers think not just about what they write, but about how they write it. We have the ability to metacognitively engage with our writing and make decisions about what is likely to sound best. Often, we do this at a level beneath consciousness; the questions we ask about our writing are automatic and so well stored in long-term memory that often we’re not really aware of what we’re doing.

But novice writers don’t have this ability. They tend to default to the time-worn narratives they have used before and shape what they know in the simplest most straightforward way they can. As they write they’re so busy thinking about what to write that there’s little space in working memory to consider how it might be written. Giving pupils sentence prompts frees up working memory so they can shape what they know in a more sophisticated way. These constraints provide pupils with the metacognitive prompts for thinking about what they know and allow them to be creative.

And if we are relentless about asking pupils to practice using a range of sentence structures it eventually becomes permanent. The structures transfer to long-term memory leaving students’ fragile working memories free to think about the content of their writing with greater depth and sophistication.

In our curriculum, we have again approached this process at the level of sentences and have decided upon 30 creative writing sentence types, with 10 sentences taught and practised per year. These are all embedded into modules so that only are students explicitly taught how to write each sentence type, they are also asked to write about the content they are studying using these sentences. 

Slow writing blog 1 and 2

Slow Writing task examples