Some staffroom threads stir up a maelstrom of emotion. An interesting example of one such thread is: 'Is homework a waste of time?' Many of the replies conclude, perhaps unsurprisingly, that homework only serves to increase teachers' already unmanageable workloads. It seems that writing homework tasks in particular provide specific problems in terms of marking and administration. The thorny issue of setting homework to fit in with the timetable or 'for the sake of it' is also discussed. Several pragmatic responses conclude that some of the most useful and teacher friendly homework assignments include Key Stage 4 coursework, research and project based tasks. One contributor takes this idea one step further and talks of a whole school homework policy currently being trialled on the school intranet. He says: '[students will] be given an extended task over a longer period ... far easier to manage and chase ... far less marking less often. It also stops homework being set for the sake of it.' He promises to report back on the reactions of students, teachers and parents, so watch this space!
'Is homework a waste of time?'
In terms of other writing related discussions, the 'Creative Writing Group' thread focuses on the issue of how to get students to develop their love of words and enjoyment of writing in an after school writing group. Interesting responses include using images from the past to pique students' imaginations and emphasise the importance of keeping it informal, allowing students to make their own writing choices. Another reply picks up on the idea of using images and offers specific examples such as the book Tell Me a Picture by Quentin Blake and photographs from the Observer archives.
A number of other writing threads focus on ideas for getting students to produce interesting and successful original writing coursework. …