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

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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 and Parenting Through the Eyes of a Child

Ariana has a new hobby: Light Watching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a child attempting to do his homework!

Here is Ariana playing with her first toy: Her awake time is about 10 minutes so she engaged for about 5 minutes with her bouncy toy!!!!!! Amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marie Clay, one of my reading heroes, once said that in order to teach effectively you have to look at and reflect upon every teaching/learning encounter  not through your own eyes, but through the eyes of the child or children that you are presently working with.  The three pictures above remind me of that quote. The first is a picture of my sweet Ariana. If we ignore the fact that it looks like she is flipping me off upside down, what she is doing in this picture is staring at the old dingy light in the lobby of my condo.

Ironically, in preparation for Ariana, I  redid  all of the lights in my condo and they are quite beautiful if I say so myself  (much nicer than the lobby light)  I would have  thought she would have liked the lights in our home better. She likes them but her favorite light is  the one in the lobby.

She noticed that light after we had gone for a walk around the block.  I thought the adventure was the walk around the block. After all, I had pointed out all of the things during our walk that were interesting to me. When we got back into the lobby I thought the adventure was over and I was already anticipating what we would do once we were  upstairs. I was about to get into the elevator when I noticed her focused gaze on the light in my lobby.

Thank goodness I stopped because it was in this moment that she discovered her first hobby  of light watching. 🙂

If I keep  Marie’s Clay quote in mind when I parent. it will help me slow down and  let Ariana enjoy her hobby of light watching and keep in mind that the light that she likes is the one  in the lobby.

Yes, not a hobby I have or a light I would have chosen. but it’s what Ariana is passionate about and whatever she is passionate about will surely nurture her development.

The next picture is a hilarious picture of a child’s response to a homework assignment…we can laugh at his response, but in reality it makes a lot of sense.

This child, more than likely, has been taught the correct words for the different body parts and simply followed the directions by writing the correct word by the arrow.  Through our eyes it’s funny or perhaps mischievous, but more than likely it’s just an honest response to an adult question.

The last picture is Ariana having her first play time. I was so excited that she was starting to play with one of the million toys I have for her that I started to grab other ones for her to play with next.

I had dreams of her playing with these toys  for hours. But alas after about ten minutes of being focused on the toy,  she got fussy and needed to be held.

Pat, my baby nurse, reminded me that a newborn’s  awake time is usually between ten and twenty minutes.

Now, that I am looking at playtime through her eyes and not my eyes it goes a lot better. She plays for ten minutes and then I hold her and she is fine.

Again, another reminder of Marie Clay’s quote that for every encounter, we need to look at it not through our eyes and  what would  be nice or fun or interesting for us, the teacher or the parent, but through the eyes of the learner/child  that we are working with.

I also need to bring up Ariana’s fussiness, which is during certain moments of the day  causing me considerable anxiety.   At times, not matter how hard I try  I can not seem to soothe her and this feels awful to me.

I have a secret stash of chocolate and sweettarts in my desk and I have been known to go eat a ton of these after one of her fussy spells.

Beside eating bad foods I try to In those moments  look at the fussiness  through her eyes and understand that her body is new to this world and things like easting, sleeping  burping and pooping are all big deals and can cause distress.

As she gets  older and gets used to this it won’t be nearly as hard.

In other words, THIS WILL PASS!

I try to remind myself all of this everyday and I also quietly explain this to Ariana. I hope it helps both of us.

Once again, it’s been helpful for me to look at this fussiness through her eyes not mine.

In my eyes I would just say what’s the big deal…Just eat, sleep, burp and poop!

All  of these things are routine for me but not for her.

How does this apply to teaching?

I can remember about a year ago being in a 5th grade classroom working with a more fragile student on his persuasive letter.  He was just about to come out of his writers’ notebook and was using his notebook at the time to ensure that he had enough arguments and details to support his arguments. When I talked with him about the idea he was most passionate about it was about students designing their own schedules at school.

It’s so easy in the rush of the day or in the assumption that we know best not to ask this student more questions or assume that the topic is a superficial one and that  if we questioned him he would talk about a schedule that included goofing off all day long.

When I questioned him I was able to see this topic through his eyes and what a brilliant and unique pair of eyes he had.

He said that different students have different strengths and weaknesses and therefore should have more ‘decision power’ in what their day/schedule should look like.

He was better at math he said and not so good at reading so he felt, for at least a short period of time, his schedule should include more reading time  so that he could improve as a reader. He also felt that at other times in the year rather than focusing on his weakness he should spend more time in his daily schedule on his strengths.

He felt  that if all students designed their own schedule they would be more engaged in learning.

The rest of his arguments for this topic were sensational and so were his details to support these arguments.

Once again looking at topic choice through his eyes made my teaching so much stronger and made me realize that this was not a silly topic but actually one that would  revolutionize education if we could somehow put it to use in schools. :).

I would love to know your thought on teaching or parenting or both through the eyes of your learners/students.

Until next time,

Leah

Copyright, 2012

 

 

8 Responses to Teaching and Parenting Through the Eyes of a Child
  1. Jen
    January 22, 2013 | 9:19 pm

    Leah, I just started reading your blog 3 weeks ago and I love your insights. Keep up the good work, both parenting and being a super mentor and inspiration to me! -Jen

    • Leah Mermelstein
      January 23, 2013 | 1:38 am

      Hi Jen,
      I’m so glad that you like it-being a first time mom, it certainly helps me to write it 🙂

  2. Bob Rose (LinkedIn)
    January 22, 2013 | 9:22 pm

    Leah,

    Linking writing and reading for younsters is a great idea, but please don’t forget that timing kids when they write the alphabet is essential. In K-1, kids automatically become literate once they practice enough to be able to do so at 40 letters per minute.

    Why teach writing letters if they aren’t “fluent”?

    • susan
      January 23, 2013 | 1:09 am

      Bob Rose,

      I just love your snarky manner. What a world where 5-year-olds are timed as a judgement of their 60-month-old ability.

      Can you say, FRUSTRATED TEACHER?

      • Leah Mermelstein
        January 23, 2013 | 1:36 am

        Hi everyone,
        This blog post is about keeping learners at the forefront and looking at teaching/learning through students’ eyes. I’m requesting that all comments pertain to the content of this blog post and all other comments i.e reading/writing connections or alphabet be saved for blogs are related to that content! Thanks so much! Leah

  3. Lin
    January 23, 2013 | 12:20 am

    Congratulations MOM!
    Ariana is beautiful and full of “personality”
    Enjoy her and don’t “stress” about fussy times!

  4. Lee Orlando
    January 23, 2013 | 2:54 am

    Leah, what a joy to get a glimpse into your and Ariana’s days. I just love that photo of her gazing up at the lobby light in her little pink fleecy outfit and sweet little cap. Oh my gosh, “this will pass” was my mantra, too, when my daughter Kirsten cried and cried (and I along with her, sometimes!). She is now 28 and, yes, it did pass… though if you’d asked me at the time I would have said “not soon enough,” and now I think “all too soon!”

    And what great timing: I’m just embarking on a persuasive writing unit with my sixth graders. Yup, I’ve got the whole unit all planned out nice and neat, with sample pieces to read and analyze, lists of writing prompts, nifty tech tools like Read-Write-Think’s persuasive map … but guess what? It never dawned on me (until I read your post tonight) to consider the unit through the eyes of my students and to give them an opportunity to self-select a topic for their persuasive letters – a topic that THEY are truly passionate about!
    Thank you, thank you for reminding me to take a step back, remove my “instructional blinders” and “see” my young writers for the first time within the design of this unit. (Reminds me of writer Ann Lamott’s self-admonishment to take her “sticky fingers off the controls”, or words to that effect.)

  5. Patricia
    January 28, 2013 | 2:44 am

    Hello Leah,
    Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby! You came to work in my district in New Milford CT a few years ago and we spoke frequently back then About what the PD look like. I love your advice and how you are tying your new discoveries of parenting, to teaching and I have been passing your thoughts on to both colleagues and our Literacy Coach!
    I was working as a reading specialist back then, but have since gone back into the classroom, a kindergarten classroom! I love it, and I am reminded every day of why I became a teacher. Thanks for sharing with all of us!
    As for your struggles with your new little one, it reminded me of a book recommended to me after my first, very cranky baby, The Self Calmed Baby by William A.H. Sammons. It parallels what you were saying about the young boy’s schedule, that if we really listened to what he wanted and needed, it would improve learning and how he views himself as a learner. The book provides insight into how the infant views the world and how we “miss” their cues. One piece of advice from the book I found really helpful was to watch out for overstimulation. Infants can get overwhelmed by the very things we think will entertain them, and so when my kids, I went on to have four, would get fussy, I would swaddle them and place their infant seat facing a white wall. Sometimes their cries would be saying that I was exposing them to too much at once, too much color, noise, etc. The book is out of print, but I bought one for my niece a while back on amazon.
    Best Wishes,
    Patricia

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