Tagged Vocabulary Aquisition

Membean: Directions and Suggestions

Membean Logo

Membean is the vocabulary acquisition program we are using this year in all grade levels for ELA.  

It is a learning tool that helps students learn and remember words. In addition it enables each teacher to monitor and comprehend an individual student’s learning.  Here is the information to create classes, have students login, and tips and suggestions for using in the classroom and grading.  

Creating Classes

  1. Go to: http://membean.com/s/phsn
  2. Enter your name and password
  3.           Password and email will be the same: Firstname_Lastname_SchoolInitials (EX: Brandi_Smith_PHSN) 
  4. Click on the large white box in the middle of the screen that says “CREATE YOUR FIRST CLASS”
  6. Select “CREATE CLASS”
  7. When the class shows up in the dashboard, write down the “CLASS CODE”
  8. This code is what students will use to get into the class, each period has a different code

Directions to Login to Membean for Students

  1. Go to: membean.com/enroll
  2. Enter the class code in the box for “CLASS CODE”
  3. Answer the question: “HAVE YOU USED MEMBEAN BEFORE” with yes or no
  4. Fill in “MY DETAILS”
    1. Make sure password is at last six letters
    2. Email is optional
  7. Pause here. We need to talk about calibrating
  8. Select the green button in the top left of the screen, “CALIBRATE FIRST”
  9. After calibration is over, you will be given a score between 1-5. This is your starting vocabulary level.  This is the benchmark from which you will improve throughout the year.
  10. Select “LET’S GET STARTED”
  11. Select “NEXT”
  12. Read the instructions and select “NEXT”
  13. Read the instructions and select “NEXT”
  14. Select “LET’S BEGIN”
  15. Pause here. We need to talk about the parts of the page
  16. Select “NEXT” and from here, begin your practice session

Best Practices for Practice and Grading

  • How often and for how long should students be training in Membean?

Students should be using Membean a minimum of 30 training minutes per week. Training should occur at least twice, and up to four times per week.  Three 15-minute sessions every week is optimal – this adds up to 45-minutes per week.  

Students in remedial or ESL programs should train more frequently but for shorter sessions each time. 

Teachers may want to consider differentiated homework. There’s no particular reason that every student should be assigned the same time goal each week, and Membean could be used as a differentiation tool.

  • How should Membean be used to grade?

Membean recommends that students be given one grade based upon the time spent in training and another grade based upon quizzes, each equaling approximately 50% of the final vocabulary acquisition grade for the quarter.

If a teacher assigns the recommended 45 minutes per week for each student, then he or she might decide to give students one point per minute for a total of 45 points. If a student only studies for 30 minutes that week, then they would be given a 30/45 for the week. In addition, the two-week quiz grade might be based upon a percentage out of 100 correct.

Some teachers have also decided that they only want to put quizzes in the grade book, but that they will mandate students finish the allotted amount of practice before they are allowed to take the quiz.   

As a final recommendation, vocabulary acquisition should be about 10% of the final quarterly grade.

How to Introduce to Students 

  • Calibration is a big deal! Try your best. Calibrating is what helps to determine what words you will learn. Also, there are both fake and real words in the calibration test, so be honest.
  • Membean training is a PRACTICE tool. You are answering questions, and you should try your best. However, the goal is for you to learn, so don’t worry if you miss questions. That is why you are practicing. In addition, you will be exposed to the same words multiple times until you learn them. If you don’t get it the first time, you will have another chance.
  • Vocabulary levels may be lower than expected; many English teachers scored around a three as a benchmark, most students start at a 1-2 level.
  • The “CONTEXT” page has the following features for students:
    • The microphone symbol can be used to hear the word pronounced
    • The “WORD INGREDIENTS” shows the prefix, suffix and root words
    • “MEMORY HOOK” shows possible ways for students to remember words
    • There are also sometimes videos, songs, sentence of context etc. on this page


Close Reading in Practice

This is from the cover of the resource suggested to me by Ben Baptiste.

This is from the cover of the resource suggested to me by Ben Baptiste.

Ben Baptiste practiced close reading with his students this week and invited me into his classroom.  It was a good experience for us both to become more familiar with the process, and I am looking forward to trying it again next week with Jillian Walters.

A couple of things he and I determined through the experience were that it seemed important for the reading to be fairly short given the number of readings and that peer sharing lead to better responses.

Here is a general outline for the close reading strategy with some variations he and I discussed and/or tried in the classroom:

1.    First reading aloud together while underlining sentences deemed important by students

2.  Pair students to collaborate on a single, one-sentence “gist” statement before sharing answers aloud as a class

3.  Second reading silently while students circle unknown words and write down what they guess the word might mean based on the context

4.  All students write the words they did not know on the white board; if a student sees the words they had are already written, they put a check mark next to them

5.  High frequency words are discussed as a class, and students share guesses as to what each might mean while the teacher prompts them for context clues along the way (Ex: what in the sentence made you think the meaning was…?)

6.  Third Reading students answer text-dependent questions in pairs or individually and share out answers.  This could also be split into an additional fourth reading following the same process as the third.  If split up this way, maybe the first set of questions would be lower-level comprehension questions and the second set might be higher level analytical or inference questions. 

Inference and other types of higher level thinking questions were a strength of Ben’s.  In particular, he asked a great question about the effect of the author’s use of the “dash” in the article which sparked an interesting conversation about punctuation for effect in writing between the two of us.

He also mentioned a resource while I was visiting that prompted the text-dependent question and seemed very well aligned with our current literacy/close reading push.  It is called The Art of Slow Reading, and he assigns it to his AP students.  I also found a Washington Post article by the author called “Reading is not a Race: The Virtues of the Slow Reading Movement.”

Here is the handout Ben used for his close reading: Close Reading activity – Facebook Friends article (Henig)