Collaborative Planning and Coteaching

Amy Hubschman
CO- Collaboration Strategies

Wilson, M. (2012) Boomtown: A wild west adventure in collaborative planning and coteaching. Retrieved from

This article from the ALA website discusses some simple and easy ways librarians can encourage and foster a collaborative work environment with classroom educators.  The author reviews simple steps such as making yourself available, presenting ideas in different ways, incorporating technology tools, and simplifying the planning process for the teacher.  The author walks readers through scheduling a collaborative unit by detailing an example of Boom Towns during the California Gold Rush era.  The example is easy to follow and helps visual learners understand the “how-to” collaboration process. 


This article is great at detailing exactly how to work with classroom teachers in planning a collaborative unit between two educators.  The author shares advice on initializing conversations and promoting the dual educator role throughout the planning and teaching process.  

Team Learning and Collaboration Between Online and Blended Learner Groups

Stefani Tovar

Lim, D. H., & Yoon, S. W. (2008). Team learning and collaboration between online and blended learner groups. Performance Improvement Quarterly21(3), 59.

This article examines online and blended learning models to determine which, if any, offers a more collaborative platform of instruction.

While its approach may vary, the study focuses on blended learning, which offers a combination of online, in-person meetings on a campus or other site (i.e. museum, park, etc), as well as opportunities for live instruction with professors. Highlights of the findings showed a significant difference between these two approaches. Among them were higher student performance and collaboration opportunities among the blended learners.  A possible cause of these findings were linked to the effectiveness of the professor and their ability to facilitate meaningful work.  Also the perception of social belonging was significant in both groups, favoring the blended learning approach.

I found this article of personal interest because of the nature of the MLIS program at SJSU.  I think that these findings are supported by my own experiences thus far in the program.  The engagement of the instructor, the motivation of the students and delivery of instruction fluctuate in quality from course to course, affecting the meaningful learning and collaborative opportunities available to students.  I don’t believe the findings are startling, but they help support that regardless of the medium, teacher quality is a central theme.

Compassion and Structure

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Compassion and Structure


Tascha Folsoi

GIORDANO, E. E., & SCHMIDT, R. p. (2014). Structured Comprehensiveness and Compassion in Guided Inquiry. School Library Monthly30(7), 30-32. ISSN  2166160X
This article discusses the important roles both compassion and structure play in the teacher librarian’s work with students.  The authors of this piece discuss their work in guiding a group of ninth grade students through a year long Scientific Literature Review (SLR) Project using a highly structured curriculum, unstructured time, and compassionate relationship between librarian and student.  Their highly structured curriculum, comprised of 22 workshops, was designed using the Information Search Process model set forth by Carol Kuhlthau. The compassionate nature of the relationship was built by a consistent “trusting response to the student researcher’s needs.” A priority of this process was teaching students to identify how they learned best, so they could move from a utilizing dependent relationship with the librarian to becoming a confident, independent researcher who will ultimately present their expertise to others.

The authors noted that working together with a student on a research project has an equalizing effect between educator and student because they are often working together to discover information about a topic that they both need to learn more about.  Unlike the traditional classroom where a teacher has a set of standards or information over which they (believe they) have mastery, the student is not trying to catch up to the teacher or librarian.  The student is encouraged to develop his or her own expertise and to perceive the librarian as a compassionate guide in this process.

I am very drawn to this writer’s work.  I work really hard to make kids understand the spirit of compassion I feel towards them.  Sometimes other teachers will suggest that I am perhaps enabling students, that they have to learn to do these things for themselves.  I do think that it is hard to know how to balance being a source of compassionate help and having clear expectations that students develop the skills they need to execute the work independently.  Consequently, I purchased a book by this author as I am curious what these workshops entail.  I am hoping that they will provide ideas as to how to negotiate that balance, so I can provide the type of support that is valued but less needed by the students as time goes on.  I want to build relationships with these students while helping them to achieve independence so they can go to college and handle the work.  Students mentioned in this article stated that they had gone to college and in fact found themselves better prepared to handle the research demands than many of their peers.  They attributed their savior faire to the experience with this ninth grade SLR.  I hope to collaborate with teachers at my school to help our students achieve the same.

K-12 Education Restructuring – Institute of Progressive Edcuation & Learning

Fluetsch, Christopher
Institute of Progressive Education & Learning. (n.d.) K-12 Education Restructuring. Retrieved from

Our education system is constantly adjusting to meet the ever-changing needs of our students. One of the current change movements is “Education Restructuring.” Education restructuring refers to moving away from teacher-driven, content-based education to collaboration-driven, process-based education.

Traditionally, classroom teachers made the final decision about what would be taught in their classrooms and through what process. Certainly, teachers had to deal with a lot of outside influences, including state standards, district curriculum direction, textbook adoptions and parent expectations. Nevertheless, the classroom teacher was the final authority, often working alone to produce curriculum.

The Restructuring model sees education as a collaborative process, with multiple experts and stakeholders assisting the teacher. Librarians, Special Education teachers, English Language Acquisition specialists, Reading specialists and many others work with the teacher to create and provide curriculum. Student needs, desires and interests are also taken into account, with students moving from passive receptors of education to active acquirers.

Restructuring also includes a movement from Content to Process. In previous generations, acquiring knowledge was considered the most important aspect of schooling. Students memorized dates, figures, names and so forth. Modern technology is quickly making such a model obsolete. Basic facts are at everyone’s fingers, and as technology advances, having memorized information will become even less important.

Instead, students need to learn the process of acquiring knowledge. They need to learn how to identify and seek out the information they need to complete a particular task. They need to learn skills for evaluating the quality of information they receive. These sorts of process-skills are going to be important in a future that holds employment and life possibilities that we cannot even envision.

This article address both these Restructuring issues clearly and briefly. It is an excellent starting place.

Dweck’s "Mindset" – Growing through Failure

Fluetsch, Christopher
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, New York: Ballentine Books.

Carol Dweck’s Mindset is almost a decade old, but it is currently enjoying a revival of interest in education circles. A number of posts on this blog cover articles written about this book, but no post has yet covered the book itself.
Dweck’s book concerns her research into how people approach problems. Dweck maintains that people take one of two approaches to problems. They either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
At its most basic level, a fixed mindset occurs when a person believes that intelligence, ability or skill in some area is fixed, that is that it cannot be significantly changed. The person considers themselves either smart or dumb, talented or not. For a fixed mindset person, a problem is an insurmountable obstacle. A failure indicates that the person is simply not good enough.
A growth mindset individual, however, believes in limitless human potential. A problem becomes an opportunity for growth, a chance to learn a new skill or a new approach to a problem. Dweck maintains that growth mindset individuals are more likely to be successful in the long term, as they continue to learn new skills. Growth mindset people are also more likely to be happy and content, as they never feel as if a problem is unsolvable.
The recent revival of this book is directly related to the need for students to learn the 21st century skills of adaptability and life-long learning. A common phrase in modern education is “We are are teaching our students skills they will need for jobs that have not even been created.” The basic idea is that the pace of change is accelerating, and people can grow and adapt to new conditions will be more successful than people who cannot.
Unfortunately, Dweck tends to reason beyond her data. She has a potent idea with some research behind it, but she extrapolates the idea into a binary worldview, where one either is fixed or growth. Everything bad comes from having a fixed mindset, everything good from growth. She oversells her idea, ruining a bit of her credibility.

Nevertheless, Mindset has some excellent advice for helping students cope with change. It is probably not necessary to read the entire book, as a number of chapters become repetitive. However, the first three chapters and the chapter on teaching are valuable additions for anyone’s reading plan.

Coteaching: A Success Story

Megan Westcoat


Cohen, S. (2015). Coteaching: A Success Story. Teacher Librarian, 42(5), 8.
 Cohen contends and defends, using multiple sources including Dr. Loertscher’s 2014 collaborator article that, adults in a learning spaces working together can and does have an affect on student learning and achievement.  She utilizes a pyramid as a visual demonstration of the process and hierarchy involved in engaging in a co-teaching process.   Her visual looks like this:

While many tend to use the terms co-teaching and collaborating to mean the same action, she differentiates that they are, indeed two very distinct parts of the process.  People who collaborate may work together to create a lesson or unit but don’t necessarily have to teach that lesson together.  While collaborating is a good thing, co-teaching can reap greater rewards, according to her.
 In addition to her assertions backed up by research and the handy visual reminder of the process involved, she offers some interesting sources to help fuel or contribute to the process.  She highlights the Tools for Real Time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (TRAILS) through Kent State University and the CRAAP test for testing for authority and reliability.  She also points out web 2.0 features such as Smore for creating infographics and Padlet for class discussions.

  I am probably just as guilty as anyone at intermixing these terms.  For many Cohen’s article might not be earth-shattering, but the graphic hierarchy alone was educational for me.  It forced me to consider the differences between the levels, most importantly the top two levels.  As a teacher I have done a lot of the first four steps with my colleagues; we meet, brainstorm, share resources, develop a plan, break up tasks, etc.  But then 9 times out of 10, we return to our own classrooms to teach what we just collaborated on, alone.  There is a lot to be said for co-teaching; students see us emulate what we want them to be doing in terms of working together to achieve more than they would alone.