When I first joined the school, nearly 20 years ago, and began teaching in the English Faculty, there were a number of resources created by The English Centre which were designed to encourage students to produce a variety of texts for particular purposes and audiences. The trend then was to teach writing in the context of extended projects, often with a multi-disciplinary element thrown in. Then, of course, came the National Curriculum.
One of the resources that proved popular with teachers (and some students) was "The Island". This small booklet (accompanied by another with a similar theme called "School Under Siege") provided a range of writing tasks linked to a dramatic scenario. In the case of "The Island", the class was meant to imagine that they had been marooned on an island, cut off from civilisation and were responsible for their survival. 20 years later and "The Island" is making a strong recovery at Thomas Tallis School as a stimulus for thematic study at KS3. This may have something to do with the disappearance of KS3 tests but it may also be because all good resources are eventually taken up by a new generation of teachers.
However, this being the 21st century, there are things we can attempt today that were impossible back in the early 1990s. One of my colleagues asked me this afternoon if I could help him set up a blog for his English class so that they could use it to post their experiences of being desert islanders. This was really easy to do and here is the link. Whilst I was at it, it seemed like a good idea to create a website where more resources could be located. We are hoping that this site will become a resource that other teachers may want to refer to when they get stuck into "The Island".
We are also hoping that students will blog in and outside school and get their parents involved. The opportunities for peer and teacher assessment online are really exciting and it will be cool to see thye story of their island adventure taking shape online and shared instantly. I think we should keep a close eye on this experiment and lend it our support by getting involved in commenting on the posts.