Durham Academy’s Sixth Graders Are Excelling in Reading and Writing with Membean

Patti Donnelly

Patti Donnelly
Sixth Grade English Language Arts Teacher

Durham Academy
Durham, NC

Patti teaches English Language Arts to sixth graders at Durham Academy middle school. Her students have a variety of learning needs, some of which are addressed with IEPs. Before finding Membean, her English Department taught vocabulary by providing students with a weekly list of words. Each student got the same list of ten words, regardless of their level.

“The weekly vocabulary lists weren’t helping our kids learn new words. We knew we needed something that not only built word knowledge but was truly personalized.”

Serendipitously, Patti encountered Membean at a conference and learned how it combines neuroscience with ongoing research on how the brain learns to provide truly differentiated instruction. Karl Schaefer, the school’s digital learning coordinator, helped her get access to Membean for all sixth grade students. Not long after, Patti noticed that her students were retaining the words they were learning—and using them in their work. She particularly likes the idea of short training sessions that are separated by off days; using this methodology, students have time to “forget” words, learn them again, and subsequently strengthen their memory.

Patty assisting students with their Membean training.

“I appreciate how I can personalize with ease, assess formally and informally, and how I can quickly access data at a glance. Membean saves me time every week!’

Patti likes that her kids are learning to work smarter – not harder. They are in the driver's seat because they get to choose and process how each word is introduced. She says that training sessions are also teaching the kids test-taking skills, important training for future academic pursuits. Membean also helps cover more content and frees up teaching time so that Patti can give students more personalized attention. Training with Membean also models how to work since it is about diligent, regular practice.

Patti helping a student with their Membean training.

“My students have so many learning styles and sometimes learning issues, which makes differentiating with Membean very effective.”

With Membean personalizing each student’s vocabulary curriculum, Patti has more time to complete other classroom tasks. Her students often recognize Membean words in their books, and she sees their newly learned vocabulary in their writing. She frequently reviews her students’ training data and loves that every student in her class progresses at their own pace and that the class – as a whole – improves its vocabulary.

Differentiated vocabulary for your students is just a click away.