Welcome to Read – Write – Connect, Inc.

the Internet home of Leah Mermelstein.

Best Writing consultant 002 copyLeah is an internationally recognized literacy consultant who specializes in K-5 Reading and Writing Workshop. She is the President and CEO of Read-Write-Connect, INC. She is also the author of Reading/​​Writing Connections in the K-2 Classroom, (Allyn & Bacon), Don’t Forget to Share (Heinemann) and the co-author of Launching the Writing Workshop (with Lucy Calkins) (Heinemann).


Selected Works

DVD

Quality Writing Instruction
This brand new DVD will assist teachers with high quality writing instruction.

Non-fiction

Don’t Forget to Share: The Crucial Last Step in the Writing Workshop
This brand new book will show you how to make your share sessions more instructional.

Nonfiction

Reading/Writing Connections in the K-2 Classroom: Find the Clarity and Then Blur the Lines
This book demonstrates how through careful, explicit assessing, planning, and teaching every student can understand and use the reading/writing connection to become stronger readers and writers at the same time.

Units of Study for Primary Writing: A Yearlong Curriculum: Launching the Writing Workshop
This book shows teachers how to launch a joyful and rigorous Writing Workshop in their classrooms.

QUICK LINKS

E-mail the author

Authors Guild

findauthors

Leah Mermelstein
536 Grand Street, Ste. 501,
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(917) 503-1947

leahmermelstein@earthlink.net

1Leah best writing consultant 1.4 copy

Blog Posts are Below:

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A Close-In Look at Supports for the Writing Process

Greetings everyone! I hope that you are having a great time in your classroom and are starting to look forward to some relaxing summer days! In this blog post I want to share some good news, as well as let you know the new focus my blog will take.

 

First, the good news.  Heinemann has accepted my book proposal on creating self-directed writers in the Writing Workshop. I couldn’t be happier!  Not only am I thrilled to be writing a new book, but I am also thrilled that with all that is happening in the world of education, Heinemann understands (just as I do and I’m sure that you do) that Common Core Standards  will not be reached unless we have kids who are self-directed.  Not only do they understand this, but they also want to bring this message to the world by publishing a book about it.  Yippee!!!

 

I will be writing and revising this book throughout the summer and the fall. I want it to be filled with stories from teachers’ classrooms so if you do try things around the topic of self-directed writing, let me know because your story and/or your classroom might very well end up being in the book.

 

Because I’m going to be working on this new book project, my blog is going to take on a different structure, at least for now.  Whenever I am writing a new book, I become very reflective on what supports I need in my day-to-day writing and the possible implications this might have for the students that I work with.

 

Because of this, I’m going to use my blog to share what I am noticing about my own writing process and what this might mean for kids.

 

I would love for you to join me in this thinking! You can join me by writing yourself, and/or trying  some of the ideas out  in your classrooms and then letting me know what you discover.

 

So, here is today’s thought.  I have been giving myself lots of different types of writing deadlines and goals.  For example, I have long-range deadlines. I know that in the month of June my goal is to have two chapters that I can send to my editor to read.  What I have found though is having this long-range deadline is not enough. I have also started to give myself daily goals that I know will help me reach my deadline (i.e. Write the first five pages of Chapter 2 today or Reread the last ten pages of Chapter 3) At the end of each writing session, I look back at my goal to see if I reached it. Sometimes I reach it and then I just keep moving forward. For a variety of reasons, sometimes I don’t reach it.  It may be because a particular part of a chapter was more challenging than I realized and/or a chapter or a part of a chapter took on a surprising and/or interesting new direction.  Perhaps I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and I just couldn’t concentrate. Even though I make short-term goals I don’t always expect to meet them, but making them and then revising them when necessary is what is vital.   It’s been interesting for me to watch how my daily goals grow and change and eventually support me in reaching my deadline.

 

What might this mean for kids? I don’t think I do enough these days with daily/weekly goals. I always emphasize how important it is for kids to know the deadline for their writing piece, but I don’t think I do as much to involve them in what they need to do on a daily or weekly basis to get there so that they are ready to publish.

 

This year, I was in a second grade classroom and at the end of her minilesson she said to her kids,  Before you start working today fill out your goal sheet.  I watched the student fill it out by writing things such as ‘Revise the beginning of my story, Edit my draft, Work on a new story etc) At the end of the independent writing time she said, “Now check back to the goal that you made today and see if you met it.  Write a quick note on what you have to do tomorrow based upon what happened today.  Don’t forget that our publishing party is in two weeks.

 

Some kids conquered the goal they made and some kids didn’t for a variety of interesting and often valid reasons.  Regardless of that, they made their plans for the next day keeping the long-range deadline in mind.  I need to do more of THIS in my work because I do believe that writers need to be more involved in making goals for their daily work in order to bring a piece to completion.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  I think the idea of deadlines has implications not just for upper grades, but for lower grades as well. Of course it would look different in the Kindergarten classroom than it would look in the Fifth Grade classroom, but I would love to hear what teachers from all grade levels think about when it comes to both long-range deadlines and short terms goals.

 

Until next time,

Leah

 

Copyright, 2012

14 Responses to A Close-In Look at Supports for the Writing Process
  1. Wanda Troy
    June 5, 2012 | 8:01 pm

    Hi Leah!
    Your new book idea sounds wonderful and it is much needed! I wanted to let you know that we launched an Independent Writing Strand, in addition to our writing units, this year at my school. It was new and messy – but I do think it has brought our children back to the joy of choice in writing. If you’d like to hear more about my thinking and our experience – let me know!
    Best of luck on the book!
    Wanda Troy

    • Leah Mermelstein
      June 5, 2012 | 8:28 pm

      Hi Wanda, Thanks for your good thoughts and YES I would love to hear more—email me at leahmermelstein@earthlink.net. Maybe I can even visit your school next year to see it in action. If you’re comfortable, please feel free to share a bit of it here on the blog as I know others would love to hear more about it!

      It’s so nice to hear from you and I hope we talk soon!
      Leah

  2. Sharon E. Davison
    June 5, 2012 | 10:07 pm

    How wonderful Leah! I look forward to reading!

    • Leah Mermelstein
      June 5, 2012 | 10:09 pm

      Thanks, Sharon! I’m really excited to be starting a new project and I’m especially excited about the topic. I hope to see you soon.
      Leah

  3. Mary Lou Dunham
    June 5, 2012 | 11:46 pm

    Leah,
    How exciting for you. I love your goal setting ideas for writers. We did a lot of work this year with setting individual reading goals, but your blog made me realize that I was still the force driving the writing goals. This year hasn’t even ended yet and already I am excited thinking about how to do things differently next year. Oh heck, why wait until next year, maybe we’ll have a goal setting party and write some writing goals for the summer. Good luck with your new book.
    Mary Lou

    • Leah Mermelstein
      June 5, 2012 | 11:52 pm

      Hi Mary Lou,
      How wonderful to hear from you! Yes, have a goal setting party and let me know how it goes. I really do think that when the kids are involved in the goal setting, they are more engaged in reaching those goals and understand more fully how these small goals lead to meeting deadlines. Keep me updated on all that you try in your classroom. I would love to feature you and your kids in the book. Let me know not only what works, but what doesn’t work. I want both for the book. :))) I hope you have some relaxing plans for the summer. Say ‘hi’ to everyone at Schen for me. All my best, Leah

  4. Regina Smoler
    June 6, 2012 | 12:28 am

    Hi Leah,

    Congratulations! Your observations make so much sense. I can hardly wait for publication!

    In the meanwhile, I find it curious the notion of setting goals in writing. A writer friend of mine asked me if I set goals for myself. I winced, grimaced a bit, not really knowing what to say. I thought that it’s a strange question because if I have a need or purpose to write, I write. If I don’t have a need or purpose, I don’t write. However, I have to admit that when I don’t write daily, I feel anxious and perhaps, my friend was trying to help me understand that setting daily small goals can make the process less daunting. I believe there is an old saying, “if you want to know how to do something, teach it to someone,” so I’m thinking that if I use goal setting as a way to help my students, then maybe I’ll be more inclined to set small goals for myself.

    A most interesting thought!

    Thank you for sharing. I look forward to your blogs!

    Regina

    • Leah Mermelstein
      June 6, 2012 | 12:38 am

      Regina,
      Thanks so much for your excitement about my book. Knowing an audience is waiting for it makes ME more self-directed on those long writing days!!!! Your uncertainty about goal setting makes so much sense to me. When I’m writing, I’m always aware that goal setting can help my writing or it can stifle my It’s why I mentioned a constant revision of goals and the idea that just because I make a goal doesn’t mean I keep the goal. I always make sure that while I’m writing if see another purpose I try it out. While I’m writing, if my thinking takes me in a whole new direction I go with it. I then revise my plans based upon my work. I agree that somehow we have to find a balance between making short terms goals and trusting that the writing/thinking will take us where we need to go. I’ll be curious to hear what you discover as you try this with kids. It’s always great to hear from you!!! Leah

  5. Susan Cromer
    June 6, 2012 | 1:16 am

    Leah,
    Just want you to know that I use “write aloud” with all of my ESL students (grades 1-5) for nearly every writing assignment. It’s a perfect strategy for second language learners and one of the best teaching gifts I ever received. Best of luck with the new book!
    Susan

    • Leah Mermelstein
      June 6, 2012 | 1:21 am

      Hi Susan,
      It’s great to hear from you and I’m thrilled to hear that Write Aloud is a great support and scaffold for your students. One of the chapters in the book is going to focus on Write Aloud and how it’s a great scaffold for many children. I’ll also talk about it’s a vital link that many need in order to become more self-directed. Feel free to share any of the writing that your students as I would love to get more examples of how Write Aloud helps kids write stronger independent pieces. Keep in touch! Leah

  6. Marjorie
    June 6, 2012 | 3:03 am

    Hi Leah,
    Looking forward to living through the process with you and the kids you work with. Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to read each chapter of this much needed book!
    ~Marjorie

    • Leah Mermelstein
      June 6, 2012 | 10:51 am

      Thanks, Marjorie! I’m looking forward to your book coming out. I suspect it’s soon, right? Let me know. I hope all is well with you.l

  7. Stacy
    June 7, 2012 | 2:12 am

    Hi Leah,
    I just stumbled upon your blog. I’m an elementary education student, just learning about reading and writing workshop. In everything I’ve learned, I haven’t hear of the idea of actually setting deadlines for writing workshop. It always seems so student-centered, that deadlines seem out of place. How do deadlines fit in with a student-centered approach to writing?
    Thanks for your time!

  8. Leah Mermelstein
    June 8, 2012 | 1:44 am

    Hi Stacy,
    I’m so glad that you found my blog! I’m even happier that you commented. Most teachers who implement a Writing Workshop in their classrooms have Units of Study. Just like you might have curriculum in math, you would want to have curriculum in writing so that you made a plan for the instruction that your kids would receive. Each unit of study typically does have a deadline so that students have the opportunity to learn how to bring their writing from idea to finished product. As a writer myself, I understand the importance of kids learning how to meet a deadline in writing. As a teacher of writing, I want to teach my students important aspects of writing and for me that is one of them. . One way that Writing Workshop is student centered is that inside of these units kids are choosing their own topics to write about. What I was talking about in the blog was involving students in the process of setting goals for their work which I think is very student centered. Often, if we’re not careful we are simply telling kids what to do each day rather than having them make those decisions themselves. Another thing that has been helpful to me is rather than think of teaching as teacher centered or student centered is to think of it as learning centered. What i want is for kids to learn, and be engaged and I will use whatever method I need to acheive that. I hope that’s helpful and please send others to my blog.

    All my best,
    Leah

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