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Membean gives new boost in learning vocabulary

By Bree Snyder, staff writer

“Have you done your Membean?” and “When is Membean due?” are now common questions in the halls of Saegertown High School. Enter any English classroom, and you’re likely to see students hard at work on their laptops and iPads. So what is Membean?

Membean is an online learning tool centered on vocabulary, combining differentiated instruction, personalization, and active memory reinforcement. Membean is not available on the App Store; however, it is available to any student via membean.com through a school-based subscription.

According to the website, Membean’s purpose is to provide “web-based tools to help students excel.” Its aim is to bring “evidence-based, well-researched instructions [as Membean] passionately believe[s] that the measure of what you learn is what you retain over the long term.”

Membean contains over 4,000 vocabulary words, all of which are divided among three different categories: Lower Middle School, Middle High School, and High School. The Lower Middle School list contains 500 words, the Middle High School consists of 1,630 words, and the High School list has 2,156 words.

After learning about the program through her daughter’s school, Assistant Principal Kylene Koper brought Membean to Saegertown earlier this school year. Mrs. Koper chose to use Membean because of its “differentiated vocabulary practice,” meaning that Membean provides students words matched to their learning ability.

There are over 4,700 schools, including area schools like Millcreek and Fairview, in the United States, that use Membean. “I hope students will increase their vocabulary usage and their vocabulary levels,” Mrs. Koper said. She has pushed out Membean to all English classes in grades 7-12 as a pilot.

Although teachers grade Membean differently, many seem to be impressed with it. Mr. William Hetrick records a Membean grade in every two weeks whereas Mrs. Stacey Hetrick grades Membean weekly. Mr. Hetrick prefers Membean over “traditional vocabulary study because it is more individualized. It has a lot of potential for student growth.”

Students have formed a variety of opinions about the program. Some prefer Membean over standard vocabulary learning methods while some dislike Membean altogether.

“I prefer Membean over vocabulary journals because I can learn words that match to my ability of learning as opposed to looking up random vocabulary words just to appease our teacher,” senior Taylor Munce said.  

Hayley Moore, eighth grade, agrees with Munce. “I learn from it. It teaches me some good words, and I know what the words mean. It teaches me words that I don’t know that I should know.”

While Munce and Moore like Membean, other students feel pressured by the grading aspect of the program. Eighth grader Kylie Thompson said, “I don’t like it because we get grades put in. If I forget about it, I don’t get a grade. I always remember the last day, so I have to do it the night before it’s due.”

Mrs. Hetrick appreciates the site. “I’m very impressed with Membean’s ability to match the kids with the level of words they need. I think it’s very effective at teaching word parts and growing vocabulary. I’m excited to see results on year-end tests.”

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