Collaboration: 3 Lesson Ideas with Picture Books

Three What does collaboration look like during a global pandemic? All around us, we see examples of people finding ways to work together to solve problems. Collaborators understand the power of listening to different perspectives, trying things out, and working with feedback. With every problem COVID-19 throws at teaching and learning, school districts rally in collaboration to find solutions.

In the November/December issue of Knowledge Quest, AASL President Kathy Carroll applauds school librarians for finding creative ways to collaborate in 2020. She encourages us to model collaboration for learners and provide opportunities to solve problems (4-5).

The following lesson ideas focus on collaboration. Each lesson supports the AASL Standards Framework for Learners. Consider how you can transform the ideas below to work for your learning environment.

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles

Big problems are easier to solve when collaborating with people who can help. In Follow the Moon Home by Deborah Hopkinson and Philippe Cousteau, Viv wonders about the dead hatchlings she finds on the beach. She investigates the problem and realizes she needs help. Viv turns to the community to develop a plan to save the turtles.

Lesson Idea

Collaborate/Create lll.B.2 Learners participate in personal, social, and intellectual networks by establishing connections with other learners to build on their own prior knowledge and create new knowledge.

  • Ask learners why it’s a good idea to work with others to solve a problem. Invite them to share examples of how they collaborated with someone to make a difference. Ask how working in groups has changed since COVID-19 emerged. Share your own stories of collaboration. Explain how you worked around challenges so you could collaborate with others.
  • Direct learners to consider the following essential question while reading Follow the Moon Home: “How can we work together while social distancing to solve problems?”
  • Invite learners to imagine how the main character could solve the same problem during a global pandemic. What would she do differently to help the turtles while staying safe? Brainstorm ideas after reading the story.

Little Libraries, Big Heroes

What do you do with an exciting idea? You’d probably share it with someone who can help make it a reality. In Little Libraries, Big Heroes by Miranda Paul and John Parra, we learn how Little Free Libraries got started. That’s what Todd Bol did after he saw how much his neighbors loved exchanging books from a makeshift library he built. Bol wanted to build more little libraries for other neighborhoods. He shared his idea with Rick Brooks, who was the outreach program manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Together, they created a nonprofit organization to help anyone make and register a Little Free Library for their neighborhood. Now, there are Little Free Libraries all around the world!

Lesson Idea

Collaborate/Grow lll.D.1 Learners actively participate with others in learning situations by actively contributing to group discussions.

  • Watch the “Little Free Library Story.” Show learners how to navigate the “Little Free Library Map and Search Tool.” Type in your zip code to find a Little Free Library near you.
  • Tell learners that they will collaborate in groups to design a Little Free Library. They will work together to create a theme and find a place for it. Learners will make sure everyone in their group contributes in some way to the discussion.
  • Share group plans with the class and consider following through with one of the proposals.

Jabari Tries

Sometimes, it takes another person with a different idea to help you solve a problem. In Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall, Jabari struggles with making his plane fly. After taking a break and listening to his sister, he finds a solution that works.

Lesson Idea

Collaborate/Think lll.A.3 Learners identify collaborative opportunities by deciding to solve problems informed by group interaction.

  • Ask learners to think of a time when they struggled with a problem. How did they solve it? Did they ask for help and listen to other ideas?
  • Introduce the book Jabari Tries. Read the title and show the illustration on the cover. Invite learners to consider what they can expect from the story.
  • Ask the following questions after reading the book:
    • How did Jabari solve his problem?
    • Why do you suppose he didn’t listen to his sister?
    • How can you apply Jabari’s story to your own projects?
  • Explain that learners will work in groups to draw a fantastical machine. They’ll practice listening to everyone’s ideas as they plan. Model what it looks like to have respectful collaborative conversations.
  • Allow everyone to share their designs.

How are your learners collaborating these days? Please share in the comment box below!

Works Cited

Carroll, Kathy. 2020. “Leveraging Collaboration in an Evolving Learning Environment.” Knowledge Quest 49 (2): 4-5.


Author: Maureen Schlosser

Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades and Social and Emotional Learning for Picture Book Readers published by ALA Editions
Skillshare Teacher:

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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