Scheck Hillel Community School Is Differentiating Its English Curriculum with Membean
Andrew is the Middle and High School English Department Chair at Scheck Hillel Community School where he teaches eighth and twelfth grade English. Before using Membean, the school used vocabulary books, such as Oxford-Sadlier or Wordly Wise, or relied on teachers to pull vocabulary words from the class literature they were studying at the time.
“As a community school, our students have a range of different reading levels. Teaching from one list doesn’t work; they need individualized attention and words that are at their level.”
Scheck Hillel celebrates the diversity of its school community with students and faculty from all over the world. More than 60 percent of families are bilingual and speak another language at home. Teachers were frustrated because workbooks weren’t effective or suitably differentiated to meet the specific vocabulary needs for all their students. Andrew found Membean, saw that it would address the students’ needs, and approached his principal and director of curriculum. Speaking directly to the school's mission and approach to instruction, they fell in love first with the personalization—and then the word pages themselves. Andrew decided to pilot Membean with his middle school classes.
“With a large international student population, we knew it was crazy to teach the same words to both native and non-native speakers. Membean almost felt like a video game versus sitting with an old-fashioned workbook.’
Since then, Membean is now being used from fifth through tenth grades at Scheck Hillel. Andrew and his department have noticed the quality of conversation and writing has significantly increased in the classroom. Students are introduced to many more words, all at their own level and pace. Andrew has seen students of all levels embrace Membean and use it to make major strides in their vocabulary development.
“Membean has made my teaching of vocabulary much more organized, personalized, and student-driven. Our students are learning to speak and write using better English.”
Andrew and his department have a goal to increase exposure to as many words as each student can reasonably learn and comprehend. They correlate hard work on Membean with positive progress via biannual NWEA testing and improved vocabulary MAP scores. Andrew notes that he also regularly overhears his students saying, “That’s one of my Membean words!” His students take ownership of their vocabulary development and get out of Membean what they put into it. “You guys are doing great work. I’m a big fan!” says Andrew.