My S2 students this semester are keeping journals, at the instruction of their present writing textbook. It's something I know they had done in kindergarten (picture diaries) and the first half of first grade, but with the textbook I got stuck teaching them, there was already more than enough homework between the regularly scheduled pages and the monthly writing assignments. Not only would they have been burdened with work, but since we are expected to red mark the shit out of everything the students do, I would have been drowning in paper - not that I wasn't anyway.
However, this textbook seems a little less onerous, so I figured we go with the journal thing. If nothing else, it saves me having to think up creative assignments every Friday for homework. I can just have them finish off some pages and write a journal entry. As of yet, I have no intention of assigning them topics, as long as they continue to write enough that I feel they are doing as much homework as I think they should.
However, I think the kids have lit on this as a fantastic method of making Teacher feel guilty - notably to write entries all about how they have so much homework and can never play. I don't lack sympathy in the slightest - I personally would have crashed and burnt in the Korean education system. It requires a lot of work. I tend to think an awful lot of it is busy work, or at least work that moves so quickly it allows no time for digestion of new ideas. Instead of teaching a concept slowly and scaffolding it, we just teach it really quickly over and over and hope they get it by the third or forth go round.
So my students have taken to writing all about how much homework they have to do. One second grader, Max, wrote: "We had so many homework to do so, we named that Hell-training." I teach both Max and his younger brother (admittedly one of my absolute favorites, Peter) and they are adorable. I know they don't have tutors and their parents don't speak English, so the homework they do is struggled through on their own.
Teacher hears, kids. She'll do her best. After all, she's none too fond of the pile of marking that results from all your efforts either. However, it's good for you, dammit!