Elementary Contributor Course: Empower Choice


Choice Literacy elementary contributors share ways to empower choice even in uncertain times like the 2020–2021 school year. We know choice is the heart of teaching readers and writers. Enjoy this roundup of practices to hold true to our roots of choice, even in the midst of chaos.

What You’ll Learn

  • Get to know contributors as professionals and people.
  • Connect with the everyday routines of our contributors.
  • Learn practical ideas for empowering choice for elementary students.
  • Be guided through how to try this with your own students.

What You’ll Get

  • four keynote presentations by contributors who carry full-time teaching contracts with school districts
  • four guided invitations to put their ideas into practice in your own classroom
  • more than 10 members-only articles and videos from the site
  • four PDFs ready to use
  • a Certificate of Completion indicating four hours of professional learning

More Details

There’s nowhere else you can access the front lines of classrooms and schools like Choice Literacy. Our contributors are not celebrities, but they are quiet heroes. Most of them carry full-time contracts with school districts. They spend much of their day just like the rest of us…going to school and masking up or logging in to the learning management system for a day of virtual learning. They have families, and they coach their kids’ baseball teams or share pictures of their new grandchildren. They meet friends for runs, and they run out of ideas for what to eat for dinner.

In a time when education is changing rapidly, let’s turn to those who are spending their days alongside students and are trusted because they are figuring out how to continue to hold true to their roots of student choice and voice day in and day out.

This course will take you into the worlds of four different elementary educators.

Stella Villalba is an EL teacher and leader. Every day is different as she reaches many lives working alongside students and teachers, as well as leading professional development. Stella reflects on the importance of celebrating and affirming student identities in school. Her session, Celebrating and Affirming Students’ Identities with Picture Books, inspires teachers to exercise wisdom when selecting books to use in their classrooms.

Tammy Mulligan just returned to a first-grade classroom on an air force base. She’s learning to navigate masks and social distancing with our youngest learners. In her session, Choice in Interactive Read Aloud, Tammy shares ways she is pushing the envelope in offering students more choice during interactive read aloud.

Bitsy Parks has been virtual learning with her first graders in Portland, Oregon, since the first shutdown in March 2020. She encourages her students to make healthy citizenship choices by using picture books and reflective conversations. Bitsy offers a guide and tips in her session Citizenship Choices.

Matt Renwick is an elementary principal and has been leading his staff during virtual, hybrid, and in-person learning. Matt challenges us to consider ways students can have choice in organizing and arranging the classroom library in his session Co-Organizing the Classroom Library.

Grab your notebook, because at the end of each session, you are guided through a reflective practice to put the ideas into play in your classroom. (Course created in 2021.)

This course is included with Classic Classroom, Literacy Leadership and Literacy Team memberships.

Course Curriculum

Celebrating and Affirming Students’ Identities Through Picture Books

Stella Villalba encourages educators to select books to celebrate and affirm diverse identities.

Citizenship Choices

Bitsy Parks outlines ways to help students develop the language and behaviors to make healthy citizenship choices.

Choice in Interactive Read Aloud

Tammy Mulligan shares ways she is pushing the envelope in offering students more choice during interactive read aloud.

Co-Organizing the Classroom Library

Matt Renwick challenges us to consider ways students can have choice in organizing and arranging the classroom library

Meet Your Instructor

Tammy Mulligan
Bitsy Parks
Matt Renwick
Stella Villalba

Tammy Mulligan co-authored It’s All About the Books and Assessment in Perspective. At work, you can find her teaching and thinking alongside elementary teachers and kids. On other days, she is in her garden, hiking in the woods, or hiding behind a pile of children’s books. Connect with Tammy on Twitter @TammyBMulligan.

Bitsy Parks has been an elementary school teacher for over 20 years. She is currently a first-grade teacher in Beaverton, Oregon, where she finds joy in nurturing young students to discover their reading and writing identities and build a foundation for a love of learning. Bitsy has degrees from  Colorado College and Lewis and Clark College. She is an adjunct instructor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

Matt Renwick is an elementary principal who writes at Read by Example and tweets @ReadByExample. He is a veteran public educator, working first as a classroom teacher and now serving as the school leader at Mineral Point Elementary School (Mineral Point, Wisconsin). Matt’s educational writing and consultant work focus primarily on literacy instruction, school leadership, and technology integration. He has spoken at national conferences, including ASCD, ISTE, NAESP, and NCTE, as well as facilitated workshops and professional learning experiences.

Stella Villalba divides her everyday life teaching English language learners for one part of the day as she has been doing for over 20 years. The other part of her day includes collaborating and coaching teachers across the Dublin, Ohio, school district, bridging understandings regarding teaching ELLs. Stella is a Lead Ambassador for NCTE. She is passionate about languages, literacy, and culture. You can keep up with Stella at her blog, Learn Love Grow.

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