The Teacher's Desk

Jacquie's Gold Stars

Clip art image of a gold star

Each month I honor an individual, team, program, school, or piece of legislation that is helping to promote a quality education for kids. I welcome your nomination for this honor, and I will consider thoughtfully any name(s) you recommend. You can use the "Contact " link to make a nomination. Please explain why you think your nominee should be honored, and let me know how I can contact you for verification. And if you're one of a group that has gone the extra mile, tell me about it. It doesn't hurt to blow your own horn once in awhile. And besides, nobody will ever accuse you of bragging because I don't ever reveal the nominator's name.


I am pleased to award the first Gold Star of 2015 to...

Colby Sharp

Teacher, Reader, Writer, Kid Lit Fanatic, Speaker
Parma, Michigan

I have not met Colby Sharp in person and he probably has never heard my name, but I consider him a literacy rock star — as well as a great dad and an all-around good guy.

Colby, a 3rd grade teacher in Parma, Michigan, is co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club, co-founder of Nerd Camp Michigan, and co-hosts monthly Twitter chats #SharpSchu and #Titletalk. He and his teacher wife Alaina have four young children, including an infant born on Thanksgiving Day, 2014.

On his website [] Colby says, "I believe that books have the power to help kids achieve their goals and follow their dreams." And Sharp does more than talk the talk. He conscientiously and consistently backs up his words with actions day after day, week after week, and year after year. I don't know where he gets his energy, but I do know that every teacher, librarian and parent can profit from his work and his willingness to share.

Nerdy Book Club:
The seeds for the Nerdy Book Club were planted by Colby Sharp and Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer) at the 2011 NCTE Convention in Chicago when they shared their mutual dismay that so many of the books they loved to read and share with their students were overlooked during the book award season.

Fifth grade teacher and literacy blogger Katherine Sokolowski listened to their concerns and said, "We should start our own book awards." And the rest is history.

The Nerdy Book Club blog is the first thing I read every morning, including weekends. I hope you'll go to and see what it's all about. Perhaps you'll decide to join me and the 25,712 other followers who have found this marvelous home for readers who are obsessed with children's literature and matching kids with books.

The daily posts vary in their perspectives and responses to reading — from authors like N.D. Wilson and Andrea Davis Pinkney revealing what inspires them, to veteran teachers like Gary Anderson confessing his love for Old Yeller, to "Top Ten Fat Books" by Library Sciences professor, Karin Perry.

They only have one mission — celebrating children, their books, and the people who write them. They understand the power that reading has to inspire, educate, and entertain, and they want children to feel that power, too.

Nerd Camp
Nerd Camp 2015 will take place July 6-7, 2015 at Western High School in Parma, Michigan. The areas of focus will be technology, writing, and reading. There will be sessions specific to elementary and secondary, as well as those applicable to everyone. And (drum roll) the entire conference is FREE. No, that isn't a misprint.

Although I have never attended a Nerd Camp [because I'm tied up teaching literacy workshops all summer], an attendee at one of my Iowa workshops last August went to the 2014 Camp and said it was definitely a blue-ribbon professional development event. She plans to go again this year. And trust me, if an Iowa teacher says something is good — it's darn good. We Iowans don't sugarcoat.

As you may have guessed, Colby is an extremely popular speaker. Following are a few of his most recent presentations.

Visit to learn more about this outstanding educator. And while you're at it, do yourself a favor and sign up for the daily blog. You won't be sorry.

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