Video courtesy of Reading in Motion

Reading in Motion

Insight: Teacher transformation

Reading in Motion is a nonprofit that provides kindergarten and first grade students foundational reading skills they need to start on a path for lifetime learning. Its curriculum and coaches equips teachers with the tools to help students read at or above grade level through music and drama.


79% of 8th graders (13-14 years old) in Chicago schools cannot read the above paragraph. They are called "at-risk" children. Reading in Motion believes that a child's zip code should not determine her ability to read. Their program has been proven to have immediate impact, as by the end of the school year, students learn to read at grade level.

Our challenge was to help Reading In Motion transition to a program with lasting impact, where every teacher achieves those same results year after year, even long after the Reading in Motion coaches are gone.


The new strategy we uncovered shifts the organization's mindset from one focused on student transformation, to one focused on teacher transformation. Our recommendations included:

  • moving to a values-based model so teachers can internalize the program around their own beliefs
  • transferring more choice and ownership to teachers so they can feel free to make it their own
  • building a community of like-minded educators so that long after the coaches are gone, the support system remains

From our research, we spotted about a dozen design opportunities that could impact the sustainability of the program. These ranged from small offline interventions, to bigger online solutions, all helping to scale the program beyond one-on-one coaching approach. We chose the most impactful concepts and shared them with users through multiple rounds of increasingly high-fidelity prototypes. We met regularly with staff across the organization, guiding them through the iterative process of creating and testing low-fidelity prototypes that would support sustainability.

  • Client: Reading in Motion at Greater Good Studio
  • Time:2013-2014
  • My role: Synthesizing, Prototyping, Interaction design, User testing

  • Team: Sara Aye, George Aye, Annemarie Spitz, Marlies Deforche