-˜Opening Doors' is a very apt title and takes the teacher way beyond a normal approach to literacy. This is not literacy: it is English teaching at its finest.
For some time, primary teachers have been impeded by the requirements of SPAG and the promotion of -˜Wow' words which, in themselves, are not bad things but they have stilted the learning of words for their own value. Children approach writing with a tick list of what needs to be included and they have a determination to win that tick whether the inclusion of that adjective or colon actually improves the writing.
This book is arranged in standalone units and each starts with wonderful writing and poetry then leads into activities. Each unit is organized in the same way.
I particularly like the opening Access Strategies. These are a variety of ways (quizzes, games, puzzles) to get the pupils into the literature without mentioning the words writing, reading, poetry or the title of the text.
There are suggested questions to ask -” -˜always ask the most difficult first' says Bob as well as the good old lesson objectives but unlike other programmes, they do not lead the work. The areas for extension work, beautifully called -˜Beyond the Limit' and -˜Wings to Fly' are there to be used flexibly.
Each unit ends with -˜Reflecting on impact'. These units are not simply about an English lesson but a deepening of a love of literature and writing in the pupils and often we forget to look at the bigger picture that a unit of work has produced. It obvious that Bob has such a love of English literature and is incredibly well-”read that he also includes a -˜did you know?' -” to give you those tit bits to complete the tapestry. You can imagine him in the classroom with your pupils enthusing them!
This is not a book to pick up over coffee that will give you an idea to take back to class. It is for teachers who want to get back to teaching English as a language and a culture. It will hold your hand as you go through the steps (a CD is provided with lots of resources that are referred to throughout) and give you a wonderful sense of achievement both in your learning as well as that of your pupils.
Take heed, though. Don't skip the introduction! It may start off in rather a dry read but it is key to understanding the philosophy behind the contents and will ensure that you have made the very best of an excellent resource.