Motivate Your Readers with an EPIC! App

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Use EPIC app to increase student reading engagement and increase student accountability

Teacher confession: I would not say that I am the best at incorporating technology into my intervention lessons. Do I use my iPads? YES! I have a few drawing apps that my students can use to build words (rather than using magnets).  I have downloaded several games they can use to review skills while I am conducting assessments. But to me, that is not making adequate use of the technology.  I want my students learning about the information that is available to them, and how to interact with the technological world they are growing up in. Finally, back in December, I was introduced to the EPIC! for Educators app.  It is currently a FREE app (for educators) that allows your students to have access to a countless number of texts. This was exactly what I was looking for!


EPIC! can be set up from a smart device, or your computer.
I actually think setting up the accounts and monitoring your students is easier from a computer. But when your students are searching and reading, the iPad version is more user friendly.

To create an account, you just need to give some basic information about your school and use a school/educational email.

Use EPIC app to increase student reading engagement and increase student accountabilityThis picture shows the student dashboard. Once the students are in "my classroom", they can select their name and open up their library.

You and your students can create personalized accounts that are password protected. I use my students' lunch numbers. The students can select their age (interest level), as well as interesting topics (animals, sports, science, etc). The app does suggest other titles outside of the selected topics, so don't think if your student only likes sharks, that those will be the only books available.  

Do take advantage of the separate student accounts. Even if you are only using EPIC! to select titles for guided reading, or supplementary content material, these student accounts will come in handy. Beside, if your students are like mine, they will love knowing that they have a personal library!


I have taught my students three different ways to read on EPIC!  Browse, Sort and Search.  They really enjoy the sort feature.

Students can BROWSE the books that are recommended for them based on the results of the interest survey they took when setting up the account.  This is a great place for your students to find new and interesting books. They can also browse top rated books that have been "liked" or recommended by students similar to them.

Students can also SORT books.  If you have a listening center during your literacy stations, or if you have been meaning to establish one, this is the answer to your longing wishes! Students can sort books based on available texts that can be read to them.  For my struggling readers, this has been amazing. They can choose from a HUGE library of books that not only interest them, but also will be read aloud.  The sorting doesn't stop there. Are you doing a genre study on fantasy? You can guide students on how to sort the available texts and view different genres. EPIC! can save your planning time because you know longer need to go to the library and hunt for tons of fantasy books to fill your shelves with.

Lastly, your students can search for specific titles or subjects. I had a second grader, who loved EPIC! so much, she asked her family to purchase the home use version ($4.99 per month). At home, she found a princess story, and wanted to find it, so she could finish it at school.  WHAT? My struggling reader started a book at home that morning, and was so anxious to come to me so she could finish reading it. MY TEACHER HEART IS HAPPY! You can also search for a specific topic. While your results may be limited, you might just find a text to help you differentiate your lesson. My fourth graders are just starting to study the Revolutionary War. The classroom teacher and I were on a hunt for lower level texts and struggling to find something. I turned to EPIC! and sure enough there was a text that could be read aloud.  It provided an easy to follow fiction story, but also included enough facts for the student to participate in a group discussion.

I will say a feature that is currently lacking is access to reading levels. Some of the texts are leveled by Lexile, but for the lower level texts,  there is not enough information to match students with independent level texts.  I thought that by dropping the age range on the initial student profile it would help level the books more effectively, but it only changed the interest topics.  My below level second graders did not enjoy seeing ABCs and Where is Baby's Belly Button? in their recommended book list.  Oops!

Use EPIC app to increase student reading engagement and increase student accountability



My biggest fear during an independent task, is managing student accountability. I want my students engaging in meaningful practice, and what could be more meaningful than practicing reading.  I actually like having the students read in EPIC! better than reading from their choice book folder. EPIC! tracks student work and time on task!
Use EPIC app to increase student reading engagement and increase student accountability
Not only can I see what books my students have read, and on what date, but I can also see how long it
took them to complete the text. This is a picture from an actual student report, which can be pulled inside of each student account.  They are ordered in reverse chronological order - the most recent is on top.  It looks like at first, the student was just flipping pages to finish a book.  At a second glance, the behavior of flipping pages may need to be a topic of conversations during individual student conferences.  That initially looked like a lot of of task behavior and FAKE reading. However, after the time on task for the third book, maybe this student was just trying to find a book they were interested in. You can watch trends in topics, as well as track time on task. This would be a great source of evidence if you need data for a self-management goal.

Graphic organizers to increase student accountability
I have also created some very simple reading response note catchers.  The note catchers help keep my students engaged and also allow me to monitor their thinking while working independently.  The response pages work with any text available on EPIC!  I introduced the note catchers slowly to be sure the students knew how to use them appropriately.  Once your students are familiar with the graphic organizers, they just need to know the difference between fiction and non-fiction.

My students turn their notes in after reading each text.  Since starting to use these note catchers, it has started to eliminate some of the page flipping behaviors.  They know I can check up on the titles they have read, and I expect to see a note catcher for each book.  Yes, I make exceptions, but they don't know that.

Are you interested in trying out the EPIC! app? You can start your FREE account HERE.
You can also check out my note catchers HERE.






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