Teacher Tuesday

I can’t think of a better way to kick off my new blog feature, Teacher Tuesday, than with Colby Sharp. I met Colby at NCTE in Chicago last year where he kindly showed me how to post a photo to Twitter. Thanks to his patient tutoring, I was able to participate in the Nerdy Book Club Twitter chat about Hattie Big Sky recently. In addition to helping children’s authors cross the street, technologically speaking, Colby is an evangelist for reading and books at Minges Brook Elementary, in Battle Creek, Michigan [the mitten state!], where he teaches fourth grade.

The very serious Colby Sharp

I first asked Colby if we could get a peek at his past:

  • Favorite school lunch as a kid: Every single day of elementary school I packed the same lunch: two small bags of potato chips and a chocolate milk.
  • Best friend in grade school: Cory P., I met him in first grade. We were great friends all the way through high school.
  • Times you were the new kid in school: Middle school choir. I do not care to elaborate. It was not pretty. I have no idea what I was thinking.
  • Teacher that inspired you to stretch: Mr. Bontrager. He was a student teacher while I was in fourth grade. He was the first guy teacher that I ever had. I remember thinking how cool he was. Everything he said and did was magical. I remember him playing sports with us at recess. It made me want to impress him in the classroom. I now play football at recess almost every single day at school with my fourth graders.
  • The one thing you always wished you could do in grade school but never achieved: I really wish that I would have learned how to play a musical instrument. Not that I want to be a rock band or anything, I just think it would be cool to be able to rock out every once and a while. 

 Colby: I know FIG PUDDING is your favorite, first-of-the-year read aloud. Tell me how you came to know this book.

I was introduced to Fig Pudding through Ralph Fletcher’s resources for teachers. One of the mini-lessons that he included called for me to read the “Tackle Box” chapter from Fig Pudding. I was hooked from there.

What led you to choose it as a read aloud?

I read it aloud because I want my students to see my cry while I’m reading. Many of my 4th grade students have never allowed themselves to truly get lost in a story and put themselves out there. I think it sets the tone for reading in our classroom. 

Tell us a bit about the read-aloud methods you use. For example, do you stop at the end of a chapter or at the end of an exciting or interesting scene? Ask kids to predict outcomes? 

I do a lot of modeling of my own thinking as I read. I want my students to see what goes on in the head of an “expert reader.” I don’t sugar coat it either. I let them know what is really going on in my head. If I get distracted and start thinking about lunch I tell them that. I then go back and reread the parts that I missed because I was distracted. 

We of course stop often and discuss, predict, connect, but I think my favorite
part about reading aloud is having that shared reading experience.
After reading Fig Pudding we can connect something from that book to almost any other book out there. If a student is reading Our Only May Amelia, I can talk to them about May Amelia eating her “Steaming Bowl of Sadness.” If a kid is reading Ivy + Bean, we can talk about how Cynthia and Bean both struggle to get along with their siblings.
What happens in your classroom when you read this book aloud?

The silliest thing that happens is my students beg their older siblings to tell them what a Yiddi-Yadda is. It is such a silly part of the story, but every student that comes back to visit in the fith grade asks if the class has figured out what a Yidda-Yadda is yet. 

During the reading of this book, kids laugh, cry, think, grow, and learn. It really is a perfect read aloud. I think it brings us closer together and helps to develop a safe learning community together. 
What else would you like to share about read alouds and/or reading FIG PUDDING aloud?

I think that every reading/English/language arts  teacher/librarian should read aloud to their students consistently. Doesn’t everyone love being read aloud to?

Great point, Colby! I know I love hearing a good story aloud. Thanks to your recommendation, I read FIG PUDDING last spring and now absolutely understand why you read it at the beginning of each school year.

Thank you for participating and thanks for being such a TERRIFIC TEACHER! Learn more about Colby by visiting him at SharpReads or join Colby and other Nerdy readers at the Nerdy Book Club.

No Responses to “Teacher Tuesday”

  1. Anonymous

    Colby Sharp, My 5th graders would say, “You totally rock!!!” I LOVE that you model your distracting voice, rereading to get back on track. Have a fantastic school year!
    -Katy Van Aken

  2. Laura Golden

    Such a great interview, Kirby and Colby. You are both great assets to the world of children’s literature. And, I have to say, what a cute school picture! Very serious, indeed. Reminds me of my ten-year-old.

  3. Kirby Larson

    I think we all wish we’d had teachers like Colby! I love the way he treats his kids as reading equals. How empowering is that?!