In today’s digital age, students are learning what it means to be a tech-savvy individual at an earlier age than ever before. How can we bring these invaluable skills into the elementary classroom? Epic! is an application that allows students to harness those skills to foster a love of learning and reading in the palm of their hands.
Free for elementary educators and librarians, this application offers learners a new and exciting way to experience literacy. Epic! features more than 25,000 books, videos, and quizzes for students and educators to explore on their digital devices. Following the reader’s preferences while in use, this application makes personalized suggestions tailored to the individual’s interests and reading capability.
While in text, Epic! offers multiple features that are designed to improve and enhance the reader experience. For example, a built-in dictionary pulls up kid-friendly definitions and offers pronunciations when the student taps an unknown or challenging word.
A “Read-To-Me” feature allows students to listen along with a text while the words being read are emphasized on screen, making it easy to follow along, recognize vocabulary and become familiar with reader fluency. Along with many more, Epic! offers an interactive and exciting new way to improve student reading.
Epic! for Educators
Currently used in over 87% of classrooms in the United States, Epic! provides the opportunity for educators to strengthen the literacy instruction in their classroom. With Michigan’s poor literacy performance against the National norm and the recently passed third grade reading law, MCL 380.1280f, stating that any student one year deficient at the end of third grade will be retained, educators need a literacy boost to help our students succeed. Teachers can use this application to set up their own class of students in the app and differentiate material based on individual student need. To do this, teachers can see what material is being explored by their students, curate personalized “collections” of materials, and assign them to individuals all through the app. After assigning content, teachers can track student progress through personal reading logs created in Epic!
In addition to literacy experience, Epic! offers quizzes at the end of each resource to assess student learning. In this way, students are held accountable for what they read, watch or listen to. The application also utilizes awards, badges and certificates to encourage our students as readers. This helps build their literary confidence and self-esteem all while fostering a natural love for reading and learning. Finally, Epic! allows students to take control over their education, building independent learners and self-motivated students. In a school where it can feel like a student’s only role is to comply with the directions of their teacher, the opportunity to navigate through and choose content in the application assigns them as influential and competent in designing their own educational experience.
“Empowering students to choose in these early experiences sets them up for success as lifelong readers.” (Skeeters, 2016)
Epic! in Practice
A third-grade classroom in Ypsilanti Community Schools completed an integrated science/writing unit where students conducted research to write and illustrate their own animal informational texts. At the beginning of the writing process, students filled out graphic organizers to gather information about their animal’s habitat, diet, and physical characteristics. In addition to traditional print resources, students were assigned a personalized collection on Epic! containing various resources about their chosen animal.
The classroom teacher, Terria Jones stated that “The students were highly engaged while using Epic! The differentiated text made it easy for each student to read or listen to books on their individual reading level. The colorful pages, illustrations, and variety of books and topics brought excitement to reading.” Epic! offers both students and educators the opportunity to take what they know about reading and elevate it to an engaging and powerful level.
KS., B. C., A. D., E. F., K. G., D. G., . . . E. W. (2016). The Top Five Reasons We Love Giving Students Choice in Reading. The National Council of Teacher of English, 6-7. Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/ELQ/0383-feb2016/ELQ0383Top.pdf
Read and Learn on Epic! Anytime. Anywhere. (2016, September 6). Retrieved from https://www.getepic.com/
Julia Gwizdz is an undergraduate student in the Elementary Education program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She student teaches in Ypsilanti Community Schools. Julia can be reached at .