Thursday, August 18, 2016

EpicPals September is ready to go!

EpicPals is back and ready to go! For those of you who participated with us last year, things are still set up the same way... for now. Just click on the link or the picture below to access this month's Google doc. I did add one read aloud selection this month to give students a bit more support as we start the year out.

*Updates for the near future*
Epic Books is making some wonderful upgrades that will eventually make this project even more user friendly! They recently released the ability to create collections which means that I will be able to put all of the books for the month in a collection, title it ("#EpicPals September" for example) and you will be able to search the collection title and then assign it to your students! This means kiddos will no longer have to type in the title of the book. I did create a collection for this month, however, Epic has not quite released the update which will allow you to search for specific collections. Currently, it just randomly shows up in the collection area... so if you're lucky enough to spot it... grab it and give it a try! Collections are also able to be pinned to Pinterest so I've also created an #EpicPals Pinterest board.  Both of these will be great tools to make the project more efficient however, they are both still in "beta mode" and aren't quite ready. Epic has told me that they are working on it and hoping to have it running more smoothly after the back to school rush settles down. Once it goes live, I will be sure to blog about how to best utilize it! So excited for that to happen!!

Brand new to the project? 
Click picture to access Google doc to print

Here's what you need to know....

First, decide how you want to use the project with your class. Seeing as it's the beginning of the year, you may want to use this opportunity to model finding books on Epic and enjoy them together as a class. Then model how to use the QR code to get to the Padlet board and model how to leave a quality response. (You may also want to cover some digital citizenship skills by reminding your students to only leave their first names and state abbreviation on their Padlet posts.)

As the year goes on, many have used this project as a way to challenge their higher level readers or as part of a guided reading group, or even as a weekly whole group read-aloud and then have students leave their own comments on the Padlet.
*NEW* Intermediate Version thanks to Bobbi Hopkins!!

After you know how you want to utilize EpicPals, click on the picture to the right to access the Google doc and print it off for your classroom wall or make multiple copies for your class or 
specific students. Starting this month,  you will be able to choose from a primary or an intermediate version depending on the reading abilities of your kiddos. Feel free to use one or both with your class depending on individual student need.

When students are done reading the book selection, they will scan the coordinating  QR code on their sheet (no url's for our young learners!). This will take them to a Padlet board specific for the book they read. If you'd rather push this sheet out to your students on your blog, Google Classroom, etc the url's shown are clickable and linked to the boards as well.

As your students begin to post on the Padlet boards, please don't be overly concerned about spelling. This is meant to be a place where kiddos can read and respond to text authentically. I do check the boards every few days to double check content and any questionable phonetic spelling. (The links to these boards are not public or searchable- you must have the link to access them)

How students should respond on the boards?
That's really up to you. What's best for your learners? Are you learning about text-to-self connections, retelling, summarizing or simply writing complete sentences to share your favorite part?  Be creative, utilize the boards to match your learning objectives. Feel free to have your students include images or screenshots or create and upload video reflections- the sky's the limit. Most important, have fun with this!  I will at times put a question on the Google doc or on the Padlet for students to think about but these are simply springboards if needed and are NOT required.

Do we have to read the books on Epic?
If you have access to any of the books in another format, feel free to utilize ti. Books do not have to be read on Epic although I will say my class is so completely engaged when using Epic know that they have the ability to also earn badges for reading (using iOs devices). Gamification is a wonderful motivator and engagement factor!

Do we have to do all of the books and do we have to do them in order?
No, you can do any or all of the books and there is no particular order. Let your students' interest gauge where they start.  Again, make this fit your schedule and your learners. 

Have fun! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. You can email me at 
or catch me on Twitter-@smalchow

*You can also contact Bobbie Hopkins with any questions regarding the intermediate version. You can reach her on Twitter as well @bhopteacher

If you've not used Epic Kids Books, it is free for educators- so run, don't walk, to check it out!! If you're interested in learning how to set up individual student accounts, click here to access some screen shots that will help you through the process.

No comments:

Post a Comment