The Opening Doors series of books has proved invaluable in our Year Two-Six classes. We have come across no other resource which provides easy access strategies in tandem with foolproof suggestions for how to extend more able learners - all based around quality, heritage texts which are so often only considered for secondary age teaching. The links to other texts, including film, plus suggestions for further pursuing themes online make the resource particularly relevant and innovative.
Through the use of the texts and activity suggestions made throughout the series, our pupils have gained access to a wide range of brilliant and challenging prose and poetry. The frequent tips throughout each unit have allowed our teachers to anticipate possible misconceptions while at the same time keeping an eye out for those pupils who are ready for a further challenge and to move on to greater independence and achievement. In particular, the resource has enriched our weekly -˜Cerdd yr Wythnos' (poem of the week) routine and provided pupils with confidence to write poetry in a way which has astounded us. Indeed, poems by two pupils from our school were placed second and third in this year's National Poetry Day competition, and I have never before been able to challenge pupils to write a sonnet and have them produce such fantastic work.
As a bank of high quality resources and teaching suggestions, Opening Doors has fed into our day-to-day planning of English: saving us hours of preparation time and giving our pupils an insight into the amazing world of literature around them. Pupils have been inspired to hunt out copies of Black Beauty and the novels of Jack London in their local library, and one child even commented that their mum had been reading a book which had featured -˜that High Flight poem - the one we used to base our own poems on'. As such, the resource has inspired pupils to hunt out quality literature for themselves, and even to discuss it with their families. It is fantastic to see this feeding into our pupils as budding readers.
The Opening Doors series has enabled us to achieve many of our goals for pupils in English. In writing, the resource not only inspires fantastic, creative writing of poetry and prose, but there are also frequent suggestions for how to tie in elements of grammar, punctuation and spelling patterns - all within a natural context. Furthermore, the suggested questions which are given regarding the different texts help to foster close reading and an openness to different interpretations of texts. This has undoubtedly helped our pupils to improve their higher order reading skills. Additionally, the series builds in frequent suggestions for paired and group discussions: again, helping us greatly in delivering the oral aspect of the English curriculum.
To summarise, I would highly recommend the Opening Doors series of books to any primary and lower-secondary teacher/school. It is an excellent resource which saves hours of teacher preparation time and genuinely fosters a love of quality literature - in both pupils and teachers!