Today’s interview is with Stacie Hutton.  Please visit their website.

200706 summer 008Thank you for participating our interview. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in a poor, single parent family. My grandmother, although only possessing a 4th grade education herself, thought reading was important and encouraged me to read. Because I had good reading skills, I was able to do well in school and was the first in my family to attend college. Literacy can level the playing field. I know because I have lived it !
I was a teacher for many years including a teacher of the year nominee. I also taught reading courses at the college level to students studying to become a teacher. Finally, I have written many teacher resource materials and even an award winning children’s book!

How did the idea for your app come about?

I thought  reading software  desperately needed some improvements. Most good teachers will tell you that we have students read all the questions before reading the passage. This builds purpose to the reading. The reader has something in mind before they begin reading. This dynamic is called metacognition and study after study tells us it is crucial to reading comprehension. Next, I thought the passages read like encyclopedia entries. Kids , like adults, want interesting things to read . It helps them want to read more !

My app contains an entire passage about the position of Lincoln’s hands at his memorial. Parents and teachers tell me the kids love it and go on Wikipedia to learn more !And the way the questions and answers were structured it was more like a dressed up video game with questions flashing on the screen. My apps are structured where kids can go back and re-read and change their answer if they so desire Re-reading for understanding is , too, part of being a good reader. Finally, I thought reading comprehension questions should be labeled [ main idea , vocabulary, etc.] so that kids, parents and/or teachers knew what kind of questions were being answered correctly and incorrectly.

 iPhone Screenshot 2

And how long was the process from the original idea to the release of the app?

This app took almost a year from inception to availability. The reason for this length of time is that I worked with teachers who reviewed the reading levels and tested it with students. I also worked with an education think tank and received their feedback.

Did you hire a developer or do it yourself?

Due in part to my background as a teacher and writer, I developed all the content, and I thought it was important the person designing the function of the app had some knowledge about kids and learning. I designed the app to give the child a tutoring like experience . For instance, they must demonstrate competency with plot, setting, and characters before moving to the 3rd grade passages. The app also lets kids know what kind of questions [ main idea, vocabulary, etc.] they are missing. At the end, they will have questions based upon performance in previous 25 chapters .

I did hire a programmer to do all the coding.

What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome in the development process?

I would say finding and retaining good, reliable programmers.

Have you had much support during the development process (from family, peers, Apple Inc.)?

I have had a lot of support family and friends have encouraged me on this very important mission . They, like me, believe literacy is crucial to level the playing field.

What are your plans for the future? Will you be developing any more apps?

Yes. I am currently developing more reading apps.

What sort of feedback has your app been receiving so far?

I am thrilled with the response from across the globe. The app was even recognized at a reading conference, I have even had several interviews including one for television ! The best part is that I hear from teachers and parents about how the app is helping kids.

And finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering creating their own app?

Be an expert in the field of which you are developing an app.

Thank you so much for talking with us today and sharing a bit about your experiences in app development.  We really appreciated the chance to get to know you!

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