I want my organization
to sustain and scale our impact.

Reading in Motion

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    We started research by observing the program from every angle, including traveling with coaches to classrooms and observing the RIM curriculum in action.

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    We shadowed and filmed teachers throughout their school day, immersing ourselves in the classroom context in order to understand where Reading in Motion fit within their constellation of responsibilities, priorities and needs.

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    One thing we noticed right away was how challenging it was for teachers to plan their small group sessions. Even though many had charts on the walls, the key to RIM's success was "dosage"—seeing each student for just as long as that student needed. Teachers and coaches used all sorts of workarounds to figure out dosage, such as moving around Post-Its with student names in response to the latest test scores.

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    Our research led to six principles for sustaining impact with teachers, and the client team brainstormed dozens of new program components in response to each principle.

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    We illustrated the ideas that generated the most enthusiasm from the RIM team, since they would be the ones to implement. The sketches served to both further develop the ideas, and communicate them out to the broader organization.

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    End user feedback sessions helped everyone understand how the various concepts might meet the needs of teachers and coaches. Based on these sessions, we narrowed down to a final set of ideas that the RIM team would work to implement the following school year.

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    At this point, the project split into two tracks. We took the digital concepts, such as an online curriculum and a data management platform, while Reading In Motion staff took the more "analog" concepts, such as new meetings, trainings, models and organizational values. We prototyped the digital concepts, and we coached each RIM staffer through prototyping their analog concepts.

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    We refined digital concepts through many rounds of testing and feedback—from visual prototypes on paper to clickable prototypes on screens.

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    The platform we designed is called My Reading In Motion, and it houses the entire yearlong curriculum, including modeling videos (shown here). This way teachers don't have to worry about losing the book, CD or DVD, which had been a small but important barrier to sustainability.

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    Our designs included a data page which would make teachers' goals—and students' progress toward those goals—much more tangible.

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    The feature that teachers were most excited about was the ability to automatically make and schedule their small groups, based on data. This tool helps teachers to not be as reliant on their coach to figure out the complex algorithm of dosage, also known as "which student should I be seeing when."

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    Another view allows teachers to not only spot when a student is falling behind, but immediately make changes to their instructional schedule to accommodate.

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I was going back over the concepts, and I was amazed at how many have taken hold.”

Elizabeth Johnston, Reading in Motion


Our work with Reading in Motion turned out to be pretty transformative. The research and synthesis phase helped the organization dig into its own practices and reimagine its program through the eyes of its end users. The sustainability principles have helped Reading in Motion move from a program focused on student transformation, to one focused on teacher transformation.

The digital tools we designed have enabled dozens of RIM teachers to better fit the program into their school day, and have been so successful that the organization has stopped printing its physical book. Teachers can now access the curriculum whenever they need it, and can target interventions for at-risk students with much more precision.

Many of the analog concepts were also implemented, starting with an internal alignment of values that has served to re-orient the company’s website, training and coaching. RIM staff created solutions such as a teacher-facing orientation video and a new peer-coaching model. Not only does each concept enable the program to sustain, but many have also prepared it for scale at the national level.

Finally, our time together helped Reading in Motion to culturally embrace the concept of prototyping. Whereas before they would pilot a new idea for an entire school year, then determine its success, now they are much more comfortable creating multiple versions, quickly and cheaply, then using them to gather feedback and move forward. With significantly shorter learning cycles, the organization has become more nimble, responsive and innovative.