More than 60% of students who completed 13 years of public education (K-12)
were unable to read at a grade-appropriate academic performance level by the
time they graduated from public school in 2009 !
(The Nation’s Report Card, NCES, 2010)
the road to MVE
Create a fun and engaging experience
that inspires a love of reading.
Give educators tools
to facilitate that journey.
Story Mapping User Experience
Spikes / Prototyping
Customer Usability Testing
Story map as backlog
A Well Organized Backlog:
•Stories sized right
Experience / Release
User Story User Story
UI Details User Story
UI Details UI Details
UI Details UI Details
user research personas
Goal: To help her students see their potential and have new
focus in their lives.
Meredith is a Reading Specialist at Deer Valley Middle School. She has been
teaching for 5 years. She recently received her Masters in Reading after taking
evening and summer courses for the last 3 years. Meredith works with the
school’s lowest performing students for intervention and remediation; she
needs to increase their test scores before they can move on to high school.
She is not currently married and has no children.
“They pay attention to the print,
actually looking at the text. That
urally to them.”
Average comprehension display leads to misconception.
digging in to see where that score came
put a hold on a student who’s always away so he doesn’t
bring down my scores.”
“Exception”students’grades get factored into the class,
bringing down the average.
heets are helpful for other teachers, but aren’t geared
sts.“They look flimsy to me, not
Developed own curriculum and shares it with other read-
ing specialists after hours.“The system was failing them.”
Finds any reason to send a note to her students.“They love
getting messages. It’s personalized, individualized to
them. They don’t get a lot of that. Sometimes it unites the
whole class....I think it’s the best part of Reading Plus.”
Has previously looked for passages in Creole or Spanish
and assigned to a student to read.“Are they a poor reader
or is this a language barrier?”
“Squeeze out as much time as I can in the lab.”Students
that need more time can finish up in her classroom.
Walks around the room and observes while the students
use the computers.
Tells students to raise their hand as soon as they level up.
Gives her an opportunity to praise them and gain some
recognition in the class.
As soon as she’s back in the classroom, prints out the cer-
tificate and pastes it on the wall immediately. She also
gives the student a prize – a frisbee, pencils, nail polish,
footballs, armbands – whatever she’s collected. They’re
happy to get the smallest thing.
Gives incentives. If every student does their sessions for 9
weeks, they get a pizza party.
Changes grade level and pre-reading rate when a student
is struggling; always discusses the issue with the student
first before making any adjustments.
At the beginning of the year, gives every student in her
class 5 rereads automatically.“I see no reason why these
should be so limited.”Notices students saving up their
rereads, afraid to use them too soon. They take guesses
earlier on instead and it ends up lowering their score.
Knows who to give easier worksheets to; print them out,
student answers in writing, then she grades it and they
discuss it together.
Doesn’t touch the PAVE rates. Once changed the max scan
rate because a student was complaining about it.
Regularly records scores in each student’s agenda book.
Encourages students to use Reading Plus at home to get
extra practice or make up a missed session. If they don’t
have a computer or DSL at home, sends them to the
Knows which of her students is an“exception”and isn’t
expected to earn above 70%.
When students read above an 8th grade level in the first
semester, they“level out”of Reading Plus in the following
semester and get to take an elective instead.
Periodically explores new teacher theories online.
Has explored several online teacher communities,
impressed with EdModo.
School uses TeacherWeb, but she would rather use her
own thing.“I like playing and experimenting with stuff.”
Shares with other teachers over lunch what new resources
she has found.
Contacts Reading Plus whenever she had a problem
(“‘Need Help?’on the green screen gives you the number.”)
Previously participated in Project Smart. The district gave
her a blog where she would post ideas, assignments,
encourage kids to comment. No longer doing it.
Attends one statewide and one national reading confer-
ence every year.
“I’ll do whatever it
takes to help my kids.”
Age 30 Phoenix, AZ
“Teaching someone how to read is
the best thing you could ever do for
“When you close your door, do what-
ever it takes to get your kids excited
“I am mesmerized by this program.”
“I didn’t like the previous program we
were using. It was terrible, it’s awful.”
“I connect well with my kids. I give a
lot of accolades.”
“I tell my students,‘You’re not reading
on a 1st grade level, you’re missing
strategies from the 1st grade.’”
“I tell my kids that things will open up
for you [being a better reader] ... Sign-
ing a contract on a home, filling out
an application, learning the rules for
a new job.”
“All of a student’s teachers are work-
ing together towards a goal.”
“I would have loved to work for last
year’s principal for the rest of my life.”
There has been a lot of administrative
turnover in her school the last three
years. She wants to be a stable force.
Goal: To be the highest performing reading department in
the county.BackgroundDebra is Boynton Beach Community High School’s Department Chair of
She first learned about Reading Plus in an email blast. Upon attending a
workshop she thought,“I like this. This is going to work.”
She convinced her principal to try the pilot program, and they purchased a
license the next year.Debra is married with two teenage children and has a Masters in Reading.Attitudes
Motivations“This makes our department more
County is very data driven: state
testing for reading comprehension 3x
year; benchmark test 2x year; FCAT
(comprehensive assessment test) 2x
year (closely related to graduation
Diligent students are getting 18+ on
The principal paid for
“Silent reading is so hard to evaluate
because you can’t see it.”“Without Reading Plus, I don’t know if
a student is actually reading or com-
“These kids who were never success-
ful, never got a pat on the back, they
get their first reward and their face
FrustrationsNeed to get teachers and students
bought into the program.Constantly findings herself encourag-
ing teachers to take greatag
clear them.“If they aren’t checking
then they can’t respond tolem.” puters
Key BehaviorsRuns the high school reading pro-
gram, oversees all reading teachers,
has three of her own reading classes.
Started using Reading Plus in 2005/06
with the lowest 25% achievers in the
school and saw a major improvement.
Following year tried it with the whole
school in both the Reading and Lan-
guage Arts classes.“At first the teachers weren’t sure they
could do it because they’re not com-
puter savvy.” She sat with each
teacher and walked them through it.
Demos the program to students using
a fake student account that she set up
Logs in to the Management Interface
every day, multiple times a day.
Sometimes at home at night.Manages the system for all teachers
using it – Reading and Language Arts
– but only really monitors the Reading
teachers who she oversees.Looks to see when the teachers have
last logged in. When sees that stu-
dents have logged in much more
recently than teacher: “Well that’s a
Hardly has to say anything to the stu-
dents anymore when they enter the
classroom.“They just sit down and get
to work.” “Other teachers are always
wondering why it’s so quiet in my
Tells students that they’re expected to
achieve scores of 80% or higher. “At
our school we don’t aim for Cs, we aim
Bumps up students in 9th grade so
they can see what it will be like in 10th
Frequently making tweaks by stu-
dent: harder vocab; longer stories;
slower speed.“Teachers don’t want to
do it so I do it for them.”Flips back and forth between compre-
hension score and CLOZE score to
compare. Gives students more
rereads when they ask for them.
Uses the Notes & Messages feature to
write an entire class and let them
know if they’re on track as a class. Also
writes personal notes to students who
are doing well to say“good job.”
Keeps printed copies of all of the
Reading Plus skill sheets in binders for
the Reading teachers to use.Walks around to observe other classes
using Reading Plus; brings students
candy,“You did a great job.”Sets up competitions between the
classes; whoever gets the highest
average comprehension for the quar-
ter gets an ice cream party; top three
classes get donuts.Set up Reading Plus enrollment for all
classes, all teachers; moves students
between classes as necessary. “If the
student is in the database, it’s easy. If
they’re already enrolled in a class, I
need to unenroll them in the admin
Unenrolls all students from all classes
at the end of each year “I’m a real
Internet junkie.” Looks for worksheets
online (Googles main idea work-
Attends education technology con-
ferences and unofficially advocates
for Reading Plus while there.
“You can’t do anythingif you can’t read.”
DEBRASite AdministratorAge 46 West Palm Beach, FL
Quote on her wall: “Reading is to the
mind as exercise is to the body.”
“I was frustrated by not knowing how
they were doing.”“Teachers have to know their stu-
Believes it works. “Of my students
who had failed the FCAT between 1
and 4 times, 43% passed – and I attri-
bute that to Reading Plus.”Concerned about adoption. “Some
teachers don’t want to use it.”“You have to change the teachers’
minds about how the students learn.”
Proud to be an advocate. “I am the
Reading Plus queen.”Believes the site admin’s role is to
“monitor and motivate.” “A lot of
Reading Plus is enthusiasm and get-
ting them turned on.”“I love that you can maneuver it.”
“Student’s anecdotes aren’t enough;
data tells the story.”“What you put into it, you get out of
The Story Map
is the User Experience
is the Product Backlog
is the Release Plan
what is most Valuable…
decide up front
what is of highest Value
Learning from your
customers as they
use your product.
Innovate your way to
better user experience
by rapidly prototyping
outcome to impact
“The kids know it’s
just a beta, but they
were wondering if they
were allowed to do
their Reading Plus at
- beta class Teacher
But will it scale?
Monitoring our users’ experience relative to
the app’s performance has been critical.
We iterated on that, too.
How’s it working? Monday, February 9th, was
our busiest day ever, in terms of traffic.
Communicating UX Goals
in a Distributed Agile Team
Everyone loves a Specification / Requirements
Changing Tools or Process is Hard, but Inevitable
Team -> Values / Language -> Culture / Product