Click image above to access this month's books and QR codes

EpicPals is a collaborative reading project that utilizes Epic! Books for Kids, and Padlet. (Both of these sites/apps are free for you to use) This project was started after I needed something more to challenge and engage my first grade readers.

Each month a set of 5-6 books (both fiction and nonfiction) are chosen from Epic.  An EpicPals collection is created and searchable on Epic for you to copy so you can easily assign the books to your students (Search: EpicPals). Coordinating Padlet boards are created for each book selection where students can respond to the books. To access the QR codes, check out each month's post to access the Google doc where you will find the book titles and Padlet QRs and links.

I will post each month's board here, on the main page of my blog, and in the Featured Post section of the sidebar. You can also find the current month's board pinned on my Twitter feed each month (@smalchow). 

** The current year's EpicPals Padlet boards and Google documents will remain active from the beginning of the month they go live and remain accessible until the end of June so feel free to go back and grab any of the Google docs from the current school year for your students to access at anytime. The share settings on the Google Docs will be turned off in July so they can be updated for the upcoming school year.


Brand new to the project?

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

First, decide how you want to use the project with your class. 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. 

Next, print off the Google doc with the book choices and QR codes. To access the current month's Google Doc click on the #EpicPals image at the top of this page. You will be able to choose from a primary or an intermediate version depending on the reading abilities of your kiddos. Both are located on the same Google doc. Print off the version(s) that works best for your classroom.

Next, search for the EpicPals collections on Epic Books. You can find them by typing in "EpicPals" in the search bar. Click on the current month's collection to make a copy and assign it to your students. There is a separate collection for both the primary and intermediate collection so you can assign them to specific students.

Next, model for your students how to access the collection in their Epic account and how scan the coordinating QR code on their sheet to get to the Padlet/Flipgrid board for the book they read.  For this to be a meaningful activity, it would benefit your students greatly, and the others accessing the boards, if you spend some time modeling how to leave a quality response. (Remind your students to leave their first names and their state on their Padlet posts.)

*The links on the Google Doc are clickable if you'd rather push this sheet out to your students on your blog, Google Classroom, etc, To do this,m"Make a copy of the doc before sending it out to your kiddos if you go this route.

If using iPads, the camera app now works as a QR reader. Simply have your students open the camera app and hold it up to the QR code. They will see a notification pop up at the top of the screen. Simply touch the notification and Viola~ you're there.  ** If you're using iPad 2s and are not able to update to iOs11 or beyond, you'll need to download a QR reader app. I've found I-nigma to be the best one out there. It's free and does not contain any ads AND when your students scan the codes it takes them directly to the Padlet boards instead of accessing them through the QR app. 

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 about once a week 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). I also have Padlet's profanity filter turned on.

Emoji use:
Emojis are all the rage with our youngers right now and while I don't mind emojis on the posts, please have a discussion with your students about using them sparingly and in context of their post not just for the sake of seeing how many they can use. Poop emojis or other inappropriate emojis will be deleted from posts. 

How should my students respond on the boards?
That's really up to you. What's best for your learners? Are you learning about text-to-self connections, character traits, 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 have a question on the Padlet for students to think about but these are simply springboards if needed and you are are NOT required to respond to that specific question.

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

Do students have to read all of the books and do they have to do them in order?
No, your class/students can do any or all of the books and there is no particular order. Let your students' interests 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: sjmalchow@pulaskischools.org 
or catch me on Twitter: @smalchow

*If you have specific questions about the intermediate boards, please reach out to Bobbie Hopkins You can reach her on Twitter at: @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.


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  2. Great questions. The books are not officially leveled. I started this project to challenge my higher readers in 1st grade. I try to find books in what I consider to be the K-N range for the primary version. Books on the list are not all at the same level so you will need to use your teacher discretion and/or have your students decide what is most appropriate for them. My students became very good judges of what they knew were "Good fit books" for them.
    I will also say that the Sept-Nov books are a bit easier so students/teachers can focus on learning how to use Epic and Padlet independently.

  3. Wow! This is such a great resource! I am so glad I found you! I teach first grade in Colorado and can't wait to use this with my students!

  4. How do we get the previous months of Epic Pal links?

    1. Your best bet would be to click on the EpicPals in the Oodles of Tags area to the right. You'll then see all of the posts with the EpicPals boards and can scroll through and click on the ones you want. Only the current school year's posts from Sept to current will be open as we update over the summer months and open each month as it comes. Hope that helps you out. If you need additional assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out again.