Preparing Pre-Service School Librarians for Collaboration with Pre-Service Elementary Teachers

Esling, Kathleen


Rawson. C. H., Anderson. J., & Hughes-Hassell, S. (2015). Preparing pre-service school librarians for science-focused collaboration with pre-service elementary teachers: The design and impact of a cross-class assignment. School Library Research, 18.
(accessible via SJSU King Library)

This article was very helpful for me as a new-to-librarianship student. The authors studied a program in which pre-service school librarians (PSLs) and pre-service teachers (PSTs) were matched up and instructed to collaborate on a science unit. The authors wanted to see if having librarians and teachers collaborate before they are actually librarians and teachers would help pave the way for more collaboration down the road, and this study also gave the authors a chance to see some of the issues that can arise in such collaborations.

The article also began with Patricia Montiel-Overall’s definition of Teacher-Librarian Collaboration (TLC):

“A trusting, working relationship between two or more equal participants involved in shared thinking, shared planning, and shared creation of innovative integrated instruction. Through a shared vision and shared objectives ,student learning opportunities are created that integrate subject content and information literacy by co-planning, co-implementing, and co-evaluating students’ progress throughout the instructional process in order to improve student learning in all areas of the curriculum. (2005a, 32, emphasis in original)” (as cited in Rawson, Anderson, & Hassell-Hughes, 2015, p. 3).

They also pointed to Montiel-Overall’s four “facets” of Teacher-Librarian Collaboration. In order of least to most intense, those facets are:
  1. Coordination
  2. Cooperation
  3. Integrated Instruction
  4. Integrated Curriculum (Rawson, Anderson, & Hassell-Hughes, 2015, p. 6)

In the study, the researchers found that PSTs and their mentors did not have a clear view of what it is school librarians actually do, leading to assumptions about what was or was not possible. In one example, a mentor actually “vetoed” one of the collaborations’ activities because an item on the PSL’s agenda was something that the mentor did not think libraries did. Instead, they limited what the librarian was going to do, even when their mentees tried to explain what the PSL was planning.

Communication was also an issue between the collaborators, and it was a good view into how important communication is to make collaboration a success.

While this study did contain a lot of personal responses from the PSLs (and so should be taken with a grain of salt rather than as purely objective conclusions), I found this to be a good look at some of the issues school librarians can face in approaching teachers about collaboration. Many of my readings are finding that librarians really need to be able to self-advocate and say, “Yes we do help with [this topic]” and highlight that “teacher” role. The article was helpful to me as a “newbie,” but it might be old news to someone with more experience. Overall, though, I do recommend this if you are looking at more information about collaboration.


Three Heads are Better Than One: Librarians, Reading Specialist and Classroom Teachers in the Learning Commons

Westcoat, Megan
PARROTT, D. J., & KEITH, K. J. (2015). Three Heads Are Better Than One.Teacher Librarian, 42(5).
  This article, written as part of “The Year of the Learning Commons” series was co-authored by two professors of educational programs at East Tennessee University.  The first few paragraphs offer the definition and function of the learning commons.  They continue by laying out the roles of teacher, teacher librarian and reading specialist in a collaborative effort and who brings what skill-sets to the party.  At the mid point they have laid out the various ways a learning commons can accommodate differentiation (on an interest, readiness or learning profile level).  Finally they conclude with a detailed explanation of how literacy stations might work in a learning commons; laying out five different stations and what students could possibly doing at each one of them to support their, “. . .critical thinking, problem solving, research skills, and collaborative abilities”  (Parrott & Keith, 2015, p. 16).

   A few paragraphs in I was not sure this article could offer anything new, as at this point in the course most of us are understanding the definition and benefits of a learning commons.  Where I found this article to be worthy of posting here, however, was the section on ways to implement concept into a school library.  They stress that librarians need not necessarily make grand changes to their space or acquire specialized materials.  Then they layout five possible stations including computer, STEM, listening, writing, and visual arts, all surrounding the topic the teacher and/or teacher librarian has selected.  They give concrete examples of the type of learning activities that students could participate in at each station.  Additionally they encourage those starting down this path for the first time to take baby steps, perhaps by beginning with only three stations until they start to feel more comfortable.   Many formalized articles spend a lot of page space dedicated to telling us why to implement learning commons but not necessarily how it is actually playing out in real-life libraries.  Their suggestions felt attainable, adjustable and something we can aspire towards. 

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.

Toward constructivism for adult learners in online learning environments

Panneck, Brook


Huang, H. (2002). Toward constructivism for adult learners in online learning environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 33(1), 27. Retrieved from
This article views adult online learning through the lens of constructivism. If you ever took part in online learning when it was first getting off the ground, you may remember the typical bird unit/behaviorist methodology employed. Many of these online learning experiences utilized televised technology to deliver instruction, where the sole source of information came from the instructor. Online learning has, for the most part, come a long way since then, though you will still find the typical bird units still being used, and quite often. This article explores the need for constructivist methodology for adult online learning, by first exploring this history. The last sentence of the first introductory paragraph, perhaps sums it up best- “…adult learners always bring their unique learning characteristics to the learning situation, so an effective instructor should recognize learners’ characteristics to help them learn best” (Hang, 2002, p. 27). Though that particular outlook should be applied to all learners of any age.

The article justifies the need for newer constructivist online learning formats for adult learning based on their unique circumstances of work, family and other responsibilities not typically present with other types of learners. It explores a history of constructivism theories, which by the way, I would recommend that classmates explore this article to find great references to constructivism theories, and adult learning theories. It also explores online learning technologies and addressed how these “cognitive tools” provide support for the online learner, in their learning processes (21stcentury skills can be found here also).

After reviewing various theories mentioned above, the article addresses issues associated with constructivist approaches to online learning, both for the instructor and for the learner. It then explores, through the lens of constructivism, interactive learning, collaborative learning, facilitating learning, authentic learning, learner-centered learning, and high quality learning. It then concludes with a justification, need, and proposal for applying these constructivist theories to the adult online learning environment.

This is an excellent article. It reviews educational theories- specifically online learning/instruction. It also includes a lot of great information relevant to 21st century skills, constructivism, and adult learning theory. The references to other articles are a bonus, making this a great article for other classmates to check out and keep in their personal libraries. 

Randy Nelson on Learning and Working in a Collaborative Age

Amy Jessica McMillan

Ellis, K. (Producer), & Sutherland, K. (Director). (2008). Randy Nelson on learning and working in a collaborative age. [Video file]. Retrieved from

In this video, posted to, former Pixar University dean Randy Nelson explains Pixar’s philosophy on collaboration in the workplace. At Pixar, they have three major principles when it comes to working with others: First, Nelson says they “accept every offer.” In other words, they build each other up instead of tear each other down. Nelson explains that when you listen and consider the other person’s idea, you have a possibility, and when you don’t, “you have a dead end.” Second, Pixar believes in making your partners or team members look good.  They don’t talk about how they will “fix” a partner’s idea. Instead, it is more about how one idea springs from another. Third, when Pixar is looking to hire someone, they not only look for depth of knowledge and skill, but also for resilience, for evidence of past failure and recovery. They want people with problem solving skills and wide varieties of experience. In order to find innovative people, Pixar looks for personalities that demonstrate interest and who are passionate about their goals. Finally, Nelson explains that at Pixar collaboration means amplification. It is beyond cooperation because people are truly building on each other’s skills to create unique and powerful ideas.

This speech is inspiring for people in every profession, including those of us who work in education. Pixar is unbeatable in terms of the creative products they produce, so it means a lot to hear Randy Nelson talk about how collaboration is at the heart of everything they do. I can easily incorporate the first tenant: “Accept every offer” into my daily collaborative work at the middle school where I work. I interpret that phrase to mean that collaborative teams truly consider everyone’s ideas. They don’t just wait to say their own ideas or try to tear other people’s ideas apart. Educators should also be mindful of the way Pixar looks for people who have persevered through past failures. If we want to be innovative, we will sometimes fail. There will be lessons that don’t work. It’s part of the process. We should all remember Nelson’s final point: Collaboration means amplification. That is true for teachers just as it is true for students. We are better working together than we are working alone.