In a longitudinal study of nearly 4,000 students, researchers found that nearly 1 in 4 students with “below-basic” reading skills in third grade had not graduated high school by age 19.


Which means in a class of 25 first graders...


Six are likely to drop out of high school if they don't gain a basic proficiency in reading by the third grade.

Leah

An offline AI reading buddy that kids can take everywhere and read whatever they want so that they can develop critical reading skills and a love of learning.

Leah is our vision of a future where we can utilize the billions of dollars spent on machine learning to facilitate human learning.

 #MachineLearning    #Education 

Kid reading a book using the Leah Camera and app on chromebook.

Core Team

Dillon Chi , Susie Moon

Our Role

User Research, Human-Centered Design, Visual Design, Interviews, Wireframing, User Interface Design

Timeframe

3 Months

Demo

Reading Reports

Based on the reading sessions the system will generate biweekly and monthly reports with tips for busy parents to be involved and further their child's reading journey.

Sharing Experiences:

We found through research that kids learn best if they are able to share and personalize the knowledge gained.

Audio Highlights:

Allows the busy parents to zoom in on the struggles and success of their student.

Challenge Words:

Taking words learned that week and reinforcing through conversation.

Recommendations:

Intelligent books and additional readin gmaterial based on their reading level and interests.

Learning Management System Integration

Leah is able to do continuous reading “assessments for every book and can plot students progress as a summary view in the teacher’s learning management system, eg: Canvas or Google Classroom.

Through our co-creating sessions with teachers we learned that the most useful information would include the following.

Screenshot of Canvas, the learning management system, Leah Dashboard for teachers to quickly determine progression of students.

Glanceable:

Provides a high-level overview of student reading.

Reading Scales: 

Through our co-creating sessions we learned that there are almost 10 different scales of reading difficulty for material.

Accuracy:

Through our co-creating sessions we learned that there are almost 10 different scales of reading difficulty for material.

Detailed View:

Allows the educator to dive into troubling words, view drawings and listen to recordings.

Product: Reader and Stand

Leah can go anywhere with the detachable reading camera that typically clamps onto any book the child is reading.

The box that it comes in is perforated and upcycled into a stand for old phone or tablet. From our research and contextual analysis we saw that kids read in all positions, so we iterated our design so instead of relying on a table, a child could clip it onto the book that they were reading. 

Diagram of the Leah Cardboard stand and book clip camera.

App: Leah

Gamification

By allowing readers to pick any reading material whether that be a book, e-reader, or cereal box. Leah provides meaningful agency in every child’s learning by giving them the tools to pick up anything they are interested in, not just the books that are assigned in the curriculum or the limited selection in Leapfrog or Epic Reader.

Agency in Learning

By allowing readers to pick any reading material whether that be a book, e-reader, or cereal box. Leah provides meaningful agency in every child’s learning by giving them the tools to pick up anything they are interested in, not just the books that are assigned in the curriculum or the limited selection in Leapfrog or Epic Reader.

A mockup of a screen with Leah the character with a camera viewfinder view over a section of a dr. Seus book.

Warmup

As a pre-reading exercise, the teacher we interviewed said that she practices letter sounds with sight words to warm students up. Students need to be familiar with lowercase letters as this will represent the majority of the letters they will encounter while reading. 

Leah sets up the young reader for a successful reading session and works on pronunciation.

Empty classroom that showcases various learning tools like the phonetic letter system on the wall.
A mockup of a screen with Leah the character going through warm-up exercises with the user.

Reading Engagement

Teachers have a lot of tricks to engage the readers and build reading comprehension including picture walks, which means flipping through the book and looking at the illustrations without reading. Leah uses this method to help young readers form a mental picture story before reading, and take snapshots to do text recognition

A mockup of a screen with Leah the character

Scaffolding for Success

Teachers preview all of the difficult words from the book they are about to read and go over the definition. This method of scaffolding sets them up for success, like picking out the things that they're going to struggle with so that they can enjoy reading. Leah uses this method to help kids expand their vocabulary and practice new words.

"Scaffolding sets them up for success, like picking out the things that they're going to struggle with so that they can enjoy reading once they get into the book."

Second Grade Teacher

A mockup of a screen with Leah the character asking the user to pronounce the word congratulations, part by part.

Kinesthetic Learning

By having the kids point to each word Leah can track and jump in when needed. This kinesthetic technique helps kids practice reading from left to right. While reading, Leah gives encouragement to keep going Multiple parents and teachers said that subtle infrequent encouraging animations could go a long way to building confidence. When the reader hits a snag, one of Leah’s programmed responses is to encourage the reader to sound it out

"Word tracking is commonly used to effectively teach kids to read, since they practicing reading and moving from left to right and are able to follow along with their finger."

Education Administrator

A mockup of a screen with Leah the character asking the user to try pronouncing the word steer again.

Reading Comprehension

To finish up reading, teachers traditionally would administer a test or quiz, in fact, many of the competitors we looked at all did this.

Teachers today now check for reading comprehension by having the kids draw pictures or turn and tell a partner about the book.
A teacher said that kids love sharing personal stories, sometimes too personal, and said that the more they can make personal connections the better their comprehension will be.
The follow-up email and this exercise build in prompts to do just that.

"If they can make personal connections, that will amp up their comprehension of the book"

Second Grade Teacher

Photo of a teacher holding a book in a classroom.
A mockup of a screen with Leah the character asking the user to describe what is happening in a photo. The photo is of a person fishing in a boat and two parachuting people.

Pivotal Research Insight: Gesture Testing

Our user testing and interviews showed that gestures can be too in depth for the needs of the first graders and that they were difficult to remember which is why we decided to cut it from the first and second grade version of the app.

Gesture testing, photos of a childs hand making various hand gestures as input when prompted with example commands

Leah Project Takeaways

Contextual Research:

We wouldn't have made the change to the clip from a desk item to a clip, had we not discovered through observation that kids read in all positions.

SBER Guidelines:

This was our first experience testing a project involving Kids. After becoming Social Behavioral Educational Research Certified we developed practices to do user research through parents interacting with their child offline.

Conclusion:

This was our first experience testing a project involving Kids. After becoming Social Behavioral Educational Research Certified we developed practices to do user research through parents interacting with their child offline.

 

 

Child with the Leah physical product and tablet.
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