Membean Now Schedules Your Assessments

by Micah on January 10, 2015

Scheduling assessments to recur on a regular basis is now a breeze to set up. You can choose a recurrence period that fits right in with your schedule, and we’ll autogenerate assessments for you throughout the year, or however long you want. It even has some smarts for common holidays, but be sure to delete those dates you don’t want.  Check out the short bonus video (below) which describes all the new features.

If you’re a teacher, the scheduler is available now on your class dashboards. You’ll receive a reminder e-mail the day before each assessment is generated. There are a few options you can play with, but the defaults may be all you need.

Please give it a try; as always, we really appreciate your feedback.

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Level 6 Has Arrived

by Micah on January 10, 2015

If you have students who have already seen the upper echelons of our words (all words in Level 5), they can now encounter new words again with our just released Level 6.  It’s like cranking the volume to 11!  Maybe we should have called it L11, because some of the words are that challenging.  Nevertheless, they are still very useful words, which was what made their selection so painstaking.  Give the students kudos for getting so far!  There are the usual 7+ types of questions for each of the new words.

Here’s a sampling of some of the new words:



Students who have reached the end of Level 5 will be prompted to advance to Level 6.  Students who have been redirected to lower levels after finishing Level 5 will automatically be advanced to Level 6.  All students will see an extra level on their dashboards!

Enjoy this rarefied lexicon that we have proffered to all vocabulary whizzes out there!

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English grammar is filled with confusing terms.  None are probably as misunderstood or hard to grasp as functions of nouns, which tend to be abstract.  It is enlightening to learn the etymology behind grammatical terms, the ideas of which are very simple.  Learning why a word was made in the first place can often demystify that word!  In my last post I wrote about the grammatical subject;  I will now move on to discuss the direct object, probably the second most important function that a noun can have.

Let’s continue working with the sentence from the last post:

Tommy ate a honking pickle.

Recall that a function of a noun is what that noun is doing in a sentence: all nouns have jobs to do, otherwise they wouldn’t be there in the first place.  Tommy, once again, is the subject of this sentence because he was the one who did the action of eating; no verb can act by itself, but rather it needs a noun to “do” its action.  The only other noun in this sentence is the word “pickle.”   This noun clearly did no action, so cannot be the subject of the sentence.  So what is it?

In order for Tommy to have done any eating, he had to have something to eat!  As you can see, he ate a pickle.  That is, the object to which he directed the action of his eating was that honking pickle–presumably nervous and alarmed since it was about to be eaten.  What do you suppose the object to which an action is directed is called?  Yes!  Unsurprisingly so, it is a:

Direct Object:

Definition:  the direct object is another function of a noun, which is simply the object to which the action of a verb is directed.  A subject often has to do its action to something, or direct its action towards an object.

To think about the logic behind this a little further, let’s say that you like to toss; to do that, you just can’t toss,  you have to toss something … or there can be no tossing!  Let’s take a closer look at that idea :

I am tossing.  This makes sense, but it would be good to know what is being tossed.  This sentence really needs a direct object, that is, an object to which the tossing is directed, so …

I am tossing an alligator.  There, that’s better–now there is something being tossed!  That something is called the direct object.  Of course, the object to which the tossing was directed could have been a pen, a ball, or any number of nouns, but since you like to make your tossing memorable, you practice on large reptiles.

Etymology:  Often why a grammatical term was formed in the first place helps to understand what the word means at a deeper level.   The term “direct object” comes from the Latin directum, “steer, drive, direct” and the word “object,” whose root words mean “thrown in the way.”  Therefore, that thing “thrown in the way” of one’s sight, touch, etc. and “driven” or “steered” or “directed” in a certain way by whatever action is being done to it is the idea underpinning the “direct object.”

Now, let’s have a little test to make sure that you have a handle on what a “direct object” is:

Find the direct objects in the following sentences (answers are way down below, but don’t peek until you’re sure of those answers!).  Think to yourself: towards what object is the action of the verb in the sentence being directed?  Note that words in red are nouns acting as subjects:

1.  Edna gave Edith Peter’s porcupine.

2.  Edith gave the prickly porcupine back to Peter by putting it under his plush pillow.

3.  Philbert purchased kale chips at his local Piggly Wiggly grocery store.

4.  Once upon a time King Arthur delightedly married the beautiful princess Guinevere.

5.  Will Janet ever climb a tall mountain with her pet goat in tow?

6.  Josh and James flew to the moon and found green cheese everywhere!

7.  I don’t want to do any more grammar problems!

So, “direct objects” are important since many actions could not be performed in the first place without them!  In my next post on the word origins of grammatical terms I will discuss the indirect object.  Stay tuned!









1.  porcupine; 2.  porcupine; 3.  kale chips; 4.  princess Guinevere; 5.  mountain; 6.  cheese; 7. problems

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Grammar Made Easy: Word Origin of the Grammatical Subject

November 26, 2014 Roots

English grammar is filled with confusing terms.  None are probably as misunderstood or hard to grasp as functions of nouns, which tend to be abstract.  Often it is enlightening to learn the etymology behind grammatical terms, however, the concepts of which are very simple.  Learning why a word was made in the first place demystifies the […]

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Enhancing “Story as the Landscape of Knowing” with Membean

November 19, 2014 Roots

Teachers attending NCTE 2014 in Washington DC will be exploring the theme Story as the Landscape of Knowing via the many different programs and sessions offered there. A few of the sessions that pique our interest, which we hope to learn about from visitors to our booth (#447) in the expo hall (where we’ll be busy […]

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Introducing the Activity Log!

November 5, 2014 Annoucements

What’s the Activity Log? The Activity Log allows you to see significant student interactions with Membean. It gives you a way to answer claims such as the following: “I trained, but Membean didn’t record it!” Instructions for accessing a given student’s Activity Log can be found here: How can I see logs of my students’ […]

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Membean was temporarily unavailable

November 4, 2014 Roots

Nov 4, 2014 19:09 PM PT: Our apologies. We detected some malicious behavior toward our servers in an attempt to overwhelm them, and they have been temporarily brought down by us for investigation. We are in communication with our data center to bring the machines back online. UPDATE Nov 4, 2014 20:05 PM PT: We’ve […]

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The High Points of “Summit,” “Apogee,” “Pinnacle,” “Zenith,” “Apex,” and “Acme”

October 3, 2014 Roots

     Of all languages, English has the largest lexicon by far, estimated at well over one-million words; the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary  has over 600,000 entries, and the third edition will more than likely have close to seven figures.  German is a distant second with a still robust 200,000 words in its lexicon. […]

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Membean WAS offline for a bit this morning

September 16, 2014 Roots

UPDATE: 9:31 AM PT We are back online. Our service provider assures us that they are investigating the root cause so that future outages will not recur. As our long-time schools know, we have not had any widespread outages in over two years. If we ever need to bring our servers down for maintenance, we […]

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Grimm’s Law: Interchangeability of Dentals: “T,” Th,” and “D”

August 23, 2014 Roots

Grimm’s Law is a handy linguistic rule to know when it comes to figuring out whether words are related to one another, that is, are in the same linguistic family. Jacob Grimm, while he and his brother Wilhelm listened to different dialects as they were collecting fairy tales throughout the German countryside, noticed that particular […]

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