Quick Wins to Collaborate: Tips and a Lesson Idea

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Did you watch the AASL Town Hall meeting about collaboration on August 10, 2022? In the meeting, AASL President Kathie Lester interviewed two school librarians about collaboration. Michael Giller and Sarah Sansbury discussed their award-winning collaborative projects. The librarians offered tips about how to collaborate with our learning communities. 

Giller was the recipient of the Collaborative School Library Award. He worked with David Gerhard on their “Bulls on Parade-Banned Books Week Poster Design” project.

Sansbury collaborated with Emma O’Connor. Their “Asian American History IS American History” project received the Roald Dahl’s Miss Honey Social Justice Award. 

If you missed the meeting, check out my takeaways below. I included a collaborative lesson idea to try with an instructional partner.

Quick Win to Collaborate

We’ve all heard classroom educators say they don’t have time for collaboration. But when you prove that working together saves time, you’ll have buy in for future projects.

Start with a lesson that will be a sure win. You can find ideas on the Knowledge Quest blog. I especially love the lesson about animal crossings by Kelly Hinks. She based the inquiry project on the picture book Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals. After researching the topic, learners created their own animal crossings.

Know the Standards

Both Giller and Sansbury stressed the importance of knowing the standards. Collaboration makes sense when competencies align. The AASL Standards make it easy to connect with classroom objectives.

One way to learn about classroom standards is to have those hallway conversations. Ask coworkers what they are working on in the classroom. You can also join grade level meetings to learn about competencies. Sansbury suggests asking educators what standard they have the most trouble covering. Then, consider how you can help meet that standard with library resources.

Another way to learn about standards is to look at the National School Library Crosswalks. Here you’ll see the many ways the AASL Standards align with classroom standards. Share the crosswalks at grade level meetings. Discuss how you can work together to maximize learning opportunities.

Collaborate with  Administration

When developing lessons with instructional partners, include administration. Show how your lesson covers both library and classroom standards. Encourage administrators to contribute to the lesson design. Invite them and stakeholders to see the collaborative project in action and support learners.

Fixed Schedule? No problem

Collaboration doesn’t always mean working alongside an instructional partner. Lester suggested planning together and then working in tandem. For example, the lesson could start in the library and then continue in the classroom.

A Quick-Win Collaborative Lesson Idea with One Dark Bird

Here’s a lesson idea that may inspire a collaborative partnership. Share it with a classroom educator who has a passion for inquiry lessons. See how you can work together to develop the lesson for your learning community.


While watching a video and reading a book about murmurations, learners will write questions that compel them to learn more about the topic.


AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Think l.A.1: Learners display curiosity and initiative by formulating questions about a personal interest or a curricular topic.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Practice 1: Ask questions based on observations to find more information about the natural and/or designed world


  • One Dark Bird by Liz Garton Scanlon and Frann Preston-Gannon
  • I Wonder Worksheet (2)
  • Chart paper or dry erase board
  • Marker
  • Clipboards
  • Pencils
  • Access to the internet
  • Projector


  • Ask learners what it means be curious. Explain that being curious is important because it opens our minds to new ideas.
  • Say, “Let’s practice being curious. I’m going to show you a video clip. While we watch the video, your job is to notice and wonder.”
  • Show the Flight of the Starlings: Watch This Eerie but Beautiful Phenomenon. Record what learners notice and wonder about on chart paper or a dry erase board.
  • Tell learners that you will read a book to learn more about what they just witnessed.
  • Inform learners that while you read, their job is to be curious about what they see and wonder about. Explain that they will show their curiosity by writing questions about the topic.
  • Pass out I Wonder worksheets, clipboards and pencils. Read the directions and answer any questions.
  • Begin reading One Dark Bird. Model how to ask thoughtful questions while you read the first pages. Pause along the way to encourage readers to write their questions.
  • Ask learners how being curious helped them learn more about the world.

Check out more learning activities for One Dark Bird on TeachingBooks; an AASL Best Digital Tool for Teaching and Learning.

Have questions about collaborating? Please ask in the comment box below. I’ll share your questions with our library community to find answers!


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
Blogger: https://LibraryLessonsWithBooks.com
Skillshare Teacher: https://skl.sh/3a852D5

Categories: Community/Teacher Collaboration


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