A Quick Guide to Boosting English Acquisition in Choice Time, by Alison Porcelli and Cheryl Tyler is part of the Reading and Writing Project Workshop Help Desk for K-2. This is a small but mightly professional development read. Smaller than a 5 x 7 photo and skinnier than than a half pound chocolate bar I might have been a bit skeptical, just for a moment. The old saying is true, don't judge a book by it's cover.
I enjoyed reading every page on the flight back from NCTE. I felt accomplished as a reader because I could finish it in one setting. It reinforced current thinking I am having about the importance of choice and the value we must place on oral language. The book begins discussing the organization of choice time in a workshop format. Yes, that means with a mini lesson, independent time and a share time. Some mini lesson ideas shared are the value of planning, talking to each other about their plans, and always using books as a resource. I worry about the limited amount of choice children are having at any grade level in education. I loved the these phrases from the text supporting the use of choice and the importance for incorporating it within our days.
-"allows children to work for long stretches."
-"provides opportunities to plan, to construct, to revise, and to share work."
-"carry on with independence"
-"provides explicit instruction from the teacher who intervenes to demonstrate and scaffold skills that children need."
-"The instructor, meanwhile, moves among the workers, observing, assessing, coaching, and sometimes convening small groups that need similar instruction."
Think about these ideas and imagine them in a reading, writing, and/or math workshop. This book outlines and shares ideas for two units for a choice time workshop. The first one being an organizational one with tips for organizing and guiding student work. This unit also outlines various conference types teachers can have. A small chapter packed with lots of ideas to help you get going and feeling confident you could justify choice time to anyone who might ask.
The second unit, Story Play is a gem and must read for any primary teacher, especially a kindergarten teacher. It's all about the importance of retelling to achieve higher comprehension and revision. There is lots of thinking shared to help educators understand retelling with detail, retelling with a story element focus, retelling to better understand characters, setting, and plot. Storytelling and retelling is quite natural for children. We just need to provide the framework, time and supports using different tools.