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 as you educators attend these intriguing offerings) are:

Stories of Reading: Rethinking Instruction in a Digital Age
Saturday, November 22, 8:00-9:15 a.m.

Teaching Young Adult Literature through Differentiated Instruction
Sunday, November 23, 10:30-11:45 a.m.

On Metaphor: Using Metaphor to Teach and Improve Writing
Friday, November 21, 4:00-5:15pm – Featured session

By having your students train with Membean’s web-based, differentiated, multimodal vocabulary program, you will help them develop a vibrant and durable vocabulary.  This in turn will not only help them better understand the stories they will encounter throughout their lives, but will also illuminate their current landscape of learning.

Teacher's work magic every day

Membean’s Adaptive Reinforcement Engine tracks students’ learning and regularly assesses what they are at risk of forgetting.  It then refreshes the information in numerous ways, which includes some metaphorical approaches such as the related and demonstrative background images of our word pages.  This ensures that what students learn with Membean stays “learned.”  By having reimagined how to teach vocabulary in this digital age we have enabled truly durable learning.

So plan to stop by our booth (#447) at NCTE 2014 to see for yourself what the buzz is all about.  

While there, fill us in on all the insights you’ve amassed attending such wonderful sessions, and help yourself to some fabulous, literary swag!

Have a great conference!

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Introducing the Activity Log!

by Kamal on November 5, 2014

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’ activities?

Why make it available?

Students sometimes write to us or lodge complaints with teachers, such as saying that their training session was not recorded properly, that they did not receive a pop-up and so were not able to take a quiz, etc. We research and respond to each one of these reports. Invariably, we find that the root cause is “pilot error or omission.” The data we review to reach our conclusions on these matters is now available to both students and their teachers under the ”Activity Log.”

What is tracked?

The significant interactions currently tracked are:

  1. A user logging in.
  2. A user viewing the dashboard.
  3. A user initiating a training session.
  4. A user being issued an assessment.
  5. A user taking the assessment.
  6. A user gracefully terminating a session.
  7. A user logging out.
  8. A user changing classes.

Users can neither use the Membean website nor complete these actions without our web servers seeing and “recording” them. The log of user activity is available from Oct. 27th, 2014 onwards. It will be available for review on a rolling basis for the preceding two-week period.

Cross-checking claims vs. facts with the Activity Log

One common complaint we receive is, “I did not receive a pop-up for my quiz and so I could not take it.” Using this complaint as an example, Read the full article →

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Membean was temporarily unavailable

by Micah on November 4, 2014

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 been talking to the administrators in our data center. The nature of the denial-of-service attack was widely distributed, and many other clients have been affected. The goal was to make Membean unavailable by flooding the network with bogus requests, so nothing legitimate can come through. This type of attack is intended to disrupt the service.

We have been informed that the services need to remain offline until morning when they can ensure that no bots are persisting in the attack. We sincerely apologize for the outage, and we and our provider are doing everything we can during these hours to bring things back to normal as quickly as possible. There is a chance that we’ll be able to do some rerouting and be back up and running very late tonight, but it is more likely that we’ll be required to wait until morning. We’re planning to be up by Eastern Time lunch at the latest. We’ll keep you posted here.

Students please note: Your teachers and the school will be informed of this once we resolve the issue. Please check http://blog.membean.com for updates!


UPDATE Nov 5, 2014 06:10 AM PT

After a long night of root-cause diagnostics by our provider, we’ve been informed that our full network access will remain unavailable until 8am PT. As soon as we get that green light we’ll start with our own further diagnostics and then be bringing the servers back online within a couple hours of that. Thanks for your patience.


UPDATE Nov 5, 2014 09:55 AM PT

We are back online and our testing shows that all functionality should now be restored to normal. We are still waiting to hear more about the root cause from our provider, and we are additionally doing our own diagnosis. We’ve also put in place a provision to monitor any future potential attack to catch it quickly, and now have a way to dynamically disable blocks of bots that could be involved.

Please proceed to access your dashboards. We ask that all teachers not penalize scores yesterday for any missed training. Teachers will be prompted soon on their dashboards as a reminder of this status.

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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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The Capacious and Scintillating Vocabulary of T.C. Boyle

July 27, 2014 Roots

Isn’t it wonderful when you discover an author whom you have not read before that is so good that even thinking about sitting down to read elicits a frisson of anticipatory joy? I’ve recently encountered an author whose short fiction is so engaging that I just cannot put it down–in fact I have yet to encounter […]

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Some Fun & Favorite Words from Membean’s Staff

July 4, 2014 Roots

Everybody has their favorite words, and we at Membean are no different.  Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason behind why we like a particular word, whereas at other times there can be a highly specific rationale. So, here is a list of our favorite words, polled at the office, and listed in no particular […]

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How Word Origins Help Understand Parts of Speech: Part II

May 21, 2014 Roots

In my last post, I spoke about how the word origins of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs make those words easier to understand and remember.  In this post I will finish the word origins for the last five parts of speech: interjections, prepositions, articles, conjunctions, and expletives. interjection:  The word interjection comes from the Latin […]

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How Word Origins Help Understand Parts of Speech: Part I

April 20, 2014 Roots

Parts of speech tend to be tricky to conceptualize, so it is helpful to keep in mind their word origins when learning about them.  The words noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, and adverb were all originally named as such for a specific reason, not simply randomly assigned.  Knowing why these five words were called what they were […]

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