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


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


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.


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.


E-mail the author

Authors Guild


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


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Blog Posts are Below:


Self-Directed Learning: How a typical lesson can become an avenue for getting kids to become more self-directed







In today’s post,В  I want to share some of the work I did with the 3rd teachers at PS 230 in Brooklyn, New York.В  When I metВ  with this group of teachers we decided that we needed to do a lesson on helping kids know what to do when they were finished. Below I will share the thinking/conversations that we had before the lesson to create teaching/learning that helped kids to become more self-directed.


What would this lesson have looked like in the past?В  This is one of those lessons I have done in the past withВ  my eyes practically closed.В  I would simply tell the kids that when they were done, they had just begun and I would either show them things they could do when they were finished or ask them what they thought they could do.В  The problem I found with this type of lesson is that either kids would still say the same the famous words:В  I’m finished or if they did continue working they were not doing quality work

What we ended up doing instead….В  As the third grade teachers and I spoke about the lesson, we knew that we wanted theВ  kids to understand a few things:В  First, we wanted the kids to realize that it wasВ  not a new topic as most of the kids had been in a Writing Workshop since Kindergarten. It was important for us to relay that to themВ  because in the past we found that kids acted as thought it was a brand new topic.В  Prior to the lesson, we also consulted with the K-2 teachers to make sure we were specific with the kids about what they already knew about what to do when they were finished.В В  We also wanted the kids to realize that this lesson wasn’t about just keeping themselves busy during this time, but it was about doing quality work.

These ideas led us to revise our typical lesson.В  Here is what we did instead….

First, we let the kids knowВ  that this was not a new topic for them. We then put them into groups and gave them 2 post its.В  We said that as a group they should talk about the kinds of things they could do when they were finished. We also asked to think /talk about how those things would help them not just stay busy, but improve both their products and their processes.В  We then said that after they spoke for awhile to write the two most important ideas on the post its and be prepared to share.

How did this help?В  We realized that by involving the kids in the processВ  it made them muchВ  more engaged.В  Furthermore, it was huge that they understood that the purpose was to improve their products/processes, not to simply stay busy.В  It was also helpful for them to think about how theirВ  different ideas would help them as writers.

What would our next steps be?В  After we did the lesson, we noticed that kids were super focused on editing as what they could do when they were finished because they had just finished an editing units.В  We decided that we would revisit this chart at the end of every unit of study and ask: Now that you have learned new things in this unit what else can you do when you think you are finished?

In my book, Self Directed Writers: The Third Essential Element in the Writing WorkshopВ  I talk about how getting kids to be self-directed is a yearlong process, not a September process. Ironically, in the past IВ  tended to do a lesson on what toВ  do when you’re finished in September and then almost never revisited the lesson (and then wondered why they weren’t good at it)

I can’t wait to hear what happens in these classrooms when they do revisit this lesson at the end of every unit of study.

I wan to end by just reminding all of you of how important getting your kids to be self-directed is….Teaching kids to be self-directed is not something extra to doВ  if you have extra time or something to do with just your top students.

Some people say that with all of the new standards there is just not time to do this kind of ‘fluffy’ work.В  This is JUST NOT TRUE!!!!В  If you want kids to reach standards and be joyful engaged learners,В  then keeping them self-directed should be your priorityВ  for all of your students.В  .

I would love to hear your thoughts on this as well as other things you are trying in your classroomВ  in order to get your kids to become more self-directed!

Unit next time,


Copyright, 2013



2 Responses to Self-Directed Learning: How a typical lesson can become an avenue for getting kids to become more self-directed
  1. Patrick Pomerville
    November 14, 2013 | 2:38 pm

    Leah, Good topic. At our school we have been working to find ways to have students be more self directed during their independent reading time too. Trying to build stamina can be challenging. Patrick

    • Leah Mermelstein
      November 15, 2013 | 1:17 pm

      Thanks, Patrick! Building stamina can be challenging and I think the key to it is a combination of things which is why I think it makes it challenging. You can’t solve it with one lesson or one change…I would love others to share some of the things they have done to help with stamina! I hope I get a chance to work on it with your teachers :))

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