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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Teaching Persistence: What I Learned from Watching Ariana

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am thrilled  to share the cover of my upcoming book!  9780325048000-1

This book, which is due to come out this August,  looks at how to create self-directed learners in the Writing Workshop:   As the publication date  gets closer, I’ll send along more information.

For now, I want to share one aspect of the book and how it helped me to parent Ariana in a way that hopefully will help her to  become more and more self-directed.

One of the words I use in the book to describe self-directed learners is persistent.   Throughout the book, I share many concrete ways to help kids become more persistent.

For the purpose of this blog I’ll give you a ‘sneak peak’ at one of these ways,  but first a story about Ariana….

Ariana has learned to turn over from her back to her belly and of course now practices it  about 2,341 times a day.  Watch her here:  VIDEO0005-0

The problem was that when she first learned how to roll over she wasn’t great at it and that caused her some frustration.

After she turned over and was on her belly, she couldn’t get her hands out from under her body and to make matters worse although she loved her new trick of rolling over, she wasn’t particularly comfortable on her stomach.

You can imagine that there was a lot of crying and frustrated grunts on the first day  of this new learning.

As her mom, it was hard to watch her frustration and it was tempting  to just pull her out of the situation  and have her play in ways that would avoid her rolling over.

After much  reflection  and (googling ‘baby frustration’) I realized that a little bit of frustration was good as it would help her become more persistent in figuring out how to solve the problem herself.

I purposely say a little bit  of frustration because I know that too much frustration would not help her become more persistent but rather a weepy mess who couldn’t couldn’t focus on anything.  I started to try and manage her frustration.

I watched from afar for a few minutes to see how and if she could problem solve  and lo and  behold she began to be able to get her hands out from under her body and actually began to enjoy being on her belly.

Of course, there were times when I could tell she was going to become too frustrated and that’s when I intervened and helped as lightly as I could.

But there were just as many times when I didn’t intervene and let her problem solve on her own.

My hope is that by holding off and only helping when I could see that the frustration was too high  Ariana would  become more persistent  in solving problems both now and in the future.

How does this story impact the classroom?

Well, for starters  in my new book I emphasize that not only  do we want to  teach reading and writing, but we also want to  teach persistence.  I want kids to understand  that the harder you work the more likely you’ll be able to figure something out.

A little bit of frustration is a natural part of learning. And when you get on the other side of frustration and figure something out, I think it does help with teaching persistence in both parenting and teaching.

I want to end with a simple technique that I talk about in my book to teach persistence. Interestingly, it is exactly what I did with Ariana without realizing it.

I do not speak to the kids for the first three minutes of Writing Workshop.  During that time rather than talking to kids, I am watching them problem solve. When I see a child struggling rather than jump in immediately,  I watch to see if and how they solve the problem. After those three minutes if I think a child is too frustrated I will intervene just as I did with Ariana.

My hope is that just like Ariana saw the pay off of working hard at rolling over, my students will see the pay off of working hard to solve problems during Writing Workshop.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on teaching persistence in both teaching and parenting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Responses to Teaching Persistence: What I Learned from Watching Ariana
  1. Renee Dinnerstein
    May 8, 2013 | 2:25 pm

    Hi Leah

    First of all, Ariana is SO adorable! You look like you’re glowing with her in your arms.

    Now for persistance. I think that one key element to keep in mind is that Ariana was persitant in working through a challenge that she set for herself, not one that was on your agenda for her. That’s something that we need to keep in mind when working with young children. We need to let them set their own challenges (and they WILL do that if we give them the opportunity), not some challenge that is on a pacing calendar or list of benchmarks set up by people who have no personal connection to the child who is being taught.

    Just a thought.

    Renee

    • Leah Mermelstein
      May 8, 2013 | 7:22 pm

      Thanks, Renee! I am in love :))) I agree that when you choose your own challenges you are more likely to be persistent. I have been reading every thing I can about parenting and so I know the time frame of when babies turn over…so if Ariana was way beyond that time frame I most likely would have asked my Dr for tips on how to help with this…she may not have chosen this challenge but if I felt she needed to learn it I may have introduced it to her and tried to scaffold in a way that would manage her frustration and help to reach that goal even if I had chosen it. What does this mean for teaching. Well, I think that the more we can kids choose the challenge the better. But we also need educators who understand children to be on the lookout and to make goals as well if they think they are needed.

  2. pauletta
    May 8, 2013 | 2:25 pm

    I too, wish someone would come to my rescue after 3+ tortured, frustrating minutes dealing with ‘adult’ issues…(navigating health care papers, learning a new computer program, trying to get the cable TV remote to work right.) My immediate wish is to call on my husband, a tech savvy friend or just to throw the whole lot out the window. But, then if I allow myself the patience to figure it out myself I not only get the reward of ’empowerment’ but can avoid the frustrating experience in the future because now I’ve learned some new skill.

    • Leah Mermelstein
      May 8, 2013 | 7:24 pm

      I hope all turned out okay, Pauletta! Yes, I know that feeling of it’s easier to get someone else to do it but I agree if you have patience you will be able to do it on your own in the future. I hope it went well and it was great seeing you the other night.

  3. Carol McHugh
    May 8, 2013 | 7:11 pm

    If we don’t teach persistence, I think we are teaching dependence. When children learn to be persistent I think they learn to be independent, which of course is the goal. Along with persistence I think we need to teach children to be resilient. Not only in their writing but in their lives. When something does not turn out how we expected we need to try again. We all encounter children with home lives that we wish we could change but we can’t. So teaching our students to be persistent and resilient will be life long lessons that lead to independence and success.

    • Leah Mermelstein
      May 8, 2013 | 7:23 pm

      What a great point, Carol that dependence is actually the opposite of persistence…and I couldn’t agree more with the idea of resilience. In my new book I talk about ten things that help students to be self-directed. One of them is persistence and another one of them is resilience. I look forward to your thoughts once the book is out :))

  4. Billie Tisherman
    May 8, 2013 | 7:26 pm

    Leah
    I love this story. It’s so true and so important to remember for you as a new mom and for me as a teacher.
    It will help me tomorrow with my Writing portion of the day as well as other times with my students. Sometimes, it’s just easier to “take care of things”. This is so much smarter.
    Always good to be reminded of things you actually already know.

  5. Brett Gustafson
    May 9, 2013 | 1:55 am

    Leah,
    I have been talking to my staff about the idea of persistence and the need for teachers to let students be more independent. Your story of Ariana is a great analogy for the workshop in any subject area. I am looking forward to the book when is is released. Any other pearls of wisdom you can share would be appreciated!

    • Leah
      May 9, 2013 | 1:46 pm

      Hi Brett,
      It’s great to hear from you and I’m so glad to hear that you’re speaking to your staff about the importance of teaching kids to be persistent. It’s true–that it’s not a reading or writing skill, but a life skill. If you go back to my blog entitled “Qualities of a Self-Directed Writer” you’ll see the words I use to describe self-directed writers. I’m sure it’s changed a bit in the revision of the book but that would give you a good summary of the ideas in my new book. I hope all is going well with your new and I’m sure very busy job!

  6. Patricia Schulze
    May 10, 2013 | 1:14 pm

    Hi Leah!
    I love watching Ariana grow on your video’s. I have a 15 month old grandson, Jackson and I am applying this same principal with him to help him problem solve on his own. He has a grin from ear to ear when he finally figures something out.
    When it come to teaching I have always been a student-directed teacher. After instruction and brief modeling I loved watching how the students “took off” with the lesson. I had a 6 minute rule because the first 3 was avoidance and when they saw I wasn’t giving in I waited another 3 after they began to try.
    I just love your blog even though I am recently retired from teaching I will use your advice with Jackson and any child I may tutor.

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