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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Top Five Reasons to Begin Your Writing Units of Study With Immersion By Paula Jensvold

“Mrs. Tavares, we are not quite ready to write. Tomorrow I think we should partner read books so we can learn more about how to write non-fiction.”

This is what a child said to a literacy support colleague of mine!

It sounds funny (but wonderful) to hear children say that they were “not ready to write” during a Writers’ Workshop. What they were really saying is they needed more time to study the genre that they were about to write in.

What these kids needed and wanted was more immersion.

This year, I have spent lots of time planning and thinking through the immersion phase of my writing units of study.   What I found is that if f the immersion goes well , the rest of the unit of study is far easier to plan/teach.

The benefits of doing immersion at the start of a unit of study are vast!  Next, I want to share some of the benefits I have found when starting my writing units of study with extended and meaningful immersion.

Top Five Reasons to Begin Your Writing Units of Study With Immersion

1. When you spend time immersing the students at the start of a writing unit of study, they have more exposure to the literature and resources that you will use throughout the unit.
Many immersion lessons involve children partner reading, listening to books read aloud or watching short video clips. These resources can then be used later in the unit of study when the children have a deeper understanding of the genre/craft being studied. Because they already know the materials, you can  focus in on the specific craft technique that you are teaching that day.   This will enable you to keep the mini lesson short and focused, as well give your kids more time to write!

2. Providing the children with a few days of immersion builds up their excitement. Children often can’t wait to write!
This happens because the immersion builds up their confidence and gives them a better understanding of what they are about to write. This excitement and confidence will certainly help them to be more independent/self-directed during future days of Writing Workshop. 

 

 

 

3. Students get lots of ideas for what/how to write during the immersion phase of a writing unit of study.
Because of this, they are able to be more independent/self-directed during the remainder of the unit of study. Their ideas keep flowing and so does their writing! The quality of the writing is also enhanced because they can pull from what they learned during immersion. More independence also means more conferring for you as a teacher! Who doesn’t want to teach more during Writing Workshop?

 

 

 

4. During immersion, students get extended instruction on how to read texts as a way to get ideas for their own writing.
Once again, this instruction will help them to be more self-directed/independent. Specifically, this instruction will enable them to go to a book/text to get writing help, rather than always having going to a teacher. We’re always trying to get kids to be able to use mentor texts on their own. Immersion really supports this goal.

 

5. Last but not least, when children learn what the “big” picture of the unit of study  is ahead of time, the lessons that follow make more sense.
They can often make better connections between lessons taught at the beginning of the writing unit of study to lessons later in the unit.

 

It is hard to know how long immersion lessons should last. One day? One week?

I know that my children are ready to write when I look around and see little light bulbs popping up out of their heads. Most hands are raised and the children can’t seem to stop sharing ideas and thoughts. It doesn’t happen right away, but when it does, it feels like watching the little white fuzzy things that are attached to dandelions float away in the sky. There are always a few that stay close to the stem, those children still need more time, but most of the children are ready to go in their own direction with their own ideas.

It’s then I know that my children are ready to not wait another day to write and I turn to Mrs. Tavares and say “Tomorrow we will be ready to write!”

We would love to hear from you!

What benefits have you seen from beginning your writing units of study with immersion? What questions or concerns do you have?

Copyright, 2012

6 Responses to Top Five Reasons to Begin Your Writing Units of Study With Immersion By Paula Jensvold
  1. Andrea
    January 14, 2012 | 1:23 pm

    Here’s to immersion!
    For all of the reasons that you list
    and in the face of rushing, of improving scores, of losing the magic and poetry of those white fuzzy dandelion bits floating through the sky.

    • Paula Jensvold
      January 18, 2012 | 1:39 am

      Your thoughts are inspiring Andrea! They reflect the idea that we all want children to love the art of writing. Thanks for responding!

    • Leah Mermelstein
      January 19, 2012 | 2:38 pm

      What I love about immersion is that it brings together the joy and the rigor! In the past, when I didn’t do immersion well it was joyful but the kids didn’t get much from it. Now when I do immersion it is still joyful. What is different now is that it lifts the levels of childrens’ writing samples. When I visit classrooms, I can tell which classrooms begin studies with immersion and which do not by the quality of the samples. I can also tell because the kids who have gone through immersion are able to self-regulate themselves far better than kids who have not had immersion.

  2. Lisa Burman
    January 15, 2012 | 7:16 am

    Thanks for this great reminder of the importance of immersion, Paula. We are kicking of the school year soon here in Australia so I know many educators are spending time thinking about how they want their writing workshops to live, breath and be this year. I think the time spent in immersion is when we make and give time to follow the children’s natural rhythm of learning. Dare I say it, no ‘race to the top’ but a more organic and natural feeling of deep learning for understanding. Cheers!

    • Paula Jensvold
      January 18, 2012 | 1:35 am

      I agree Lisa! There is no need to race to the top! Instead, let’s take the time to teach fewer things in more meaningful ways. If we go deeper, the kids will get to the top on their own! Good luck with the beginning of your year!

    • Leah Mermelstein
      January 19, 2012 | 2:44 pm

      I so agree, Lisa. No matter what anyone says, you can’t force learning to happen at record speeds. When you do, all you get is half understandings, lots of confusions and NO independence. Learning takes time and if we want kids to be able to use these craft techniques in their writing independently, then we must take that time during immersion to assist with slow in-depth understanding and independence.

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