Something ‘Epic’ has occurred!

So, this year I decided to go ahead with another year of ‘Epic’ Reading within my grade 3 classroom!

Epic is an amazing online (also offline – if resources are saved within individual student libraries). I am super lucky to have such an amazing group of eager digital-aged students with the classroom, as they have taken to this program something fierce!! We began using Epic in October and I challenged kids to reach 500 books prior to Christmas (which they reached within the month) so I set the bar higher and made it 1000 with an incentive of a pizza party! Kids and pizza…well long story short we reached 1000 mid December.

We reached out and skyped with Epic founder and program developer! Kids had some great questions but even better suggestions on how to improve the program. Epic listened and adapted and have made some changes! We are currently sitting at 1251 books read, totalling 201 + hours of reading within my room!

We use it as our At Home Reading program, also in our guided reading and silent reading using BYOD within the classroom! Kids bought in quickly, easily and challenge one another on a daily bases! We have some students very close to 200 books!

Such an amazing program BUT….today I seen the true magic and miracle at work that Epic founded in one of my students!!

I have a rather ‘chatty’ lady in my room; very shy and self-conscious in regards to reading. A very sweet gal but when the word ‘reading’ arises in September I would see a complete shut down. Over the last few months a bit of a transformation and a new mindset arose within this lady!

Within her LLI (Levelled Literacy Intervention) Resources Reading group she began to become much stronger within the small group, actually surpassing the others and having to be adapted for within the group due to her excelling! Within the classrooms guided reading groups confidence arose and she began supporting others within her group sounds words out, her fluency in reading improved and her retells followed, DRA level has risen! I bet you are all thinking wow that’s amazing….well yes, but I have yet to get to the best part!!!!

A couple weeks ago I introduced the dreaded S-word; ‘Speeches’ – my god, that word still haunts me even as a speaker for digital learning as a DLL and MIEE (Digital Lead Learner and Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator hosting afterhours training and professional development for other Grand Erie Board Employee’s!! The kids freaked…..especially my ‘chatty friend’ I now call ‘Gabby’!

Speeches in Grade 3 are more ‘Storytelling’ of a favourite story. We went to library and discussed great books that would be engaging; Robert Munsch-type stories that are funny, interactive and use lots of tone and voice to direct feelings and emotions and meaning within text. Students took out various books; but Gabby was very flabbergasted and I actually had to pick something for her, as she was NOT into this assignment and task at all. The next day (maybe it was a couple days later) she asked to be taken back to library for another book, and again within the teaching block. Boy oh boy Gabby was driving me nuts!!

I got a text from Mom and Dad one evening asking IF it were possible to use Epic Books?!?! Absolutely – brilliant this IS Gabby’s ‘Go-To’ so sure freedom and reigns released, she set on task!

Today was the first day of Story-telling / Speeches; the 5 students going today (days were picked last week) were extremely nervous, one even almost in tears! After a pep-talk in the hall we were on our way. Then the miracle occurred; Gabby asked if instead of doing her Storytelling tomorrow if she could do it today?!?! Huh….very shocked and blown away; I let her go!

My shy, self-conscious, reluctant reader in September transformed before my eyes! she walked up to front of room with confidence and asked if everyone was ready; smile on face, not a cue card in hand. Confidence beaming from those determined eyes and grin that was ear to ear!! She made it her moment, she rocked the stage and socks off of many, including myself!

You know something magical happens when 9-11 year olds clap and shout after a ‘speech’ or I should say quite possibly the performance of the year! This one would be the ‘highlight of the night’ on a teachers ‘Sports Center’ this was incredible to witness, see and be part of!

Within the first 10-15 seconds I was hooked, drawn and mezmorized by the icon that of which Gabby became today! Unconscious of what emotionally was happening to myself I looked down at my grading rubric at the conclusion of the ‘performance’ and it was wet from tears I did not realized were dripped from my face! I actually had to use another rubric…and trying to be judgemental and critical (which was so, so hard after what I seen or should say experienced) trying to find holes within her work as a teacher I found myself becoming much more!

Teaching is a fantastic profession! We get to see miracles occur, today I witnessed something special! Today as a teacher I was emotionally proud of her accomplishment to excel, succeed and become supremely confident in her self! As a parent I thought ‘Wow – this is something I want my kids to experience themselves’ I shared her success with Mom and Dad via text; I was asked if I recorded it (darn high expectations from ed tech); which unfortunately I did not. I have a hunch this may be a bit better then a recording!

Being a parent is difficult; we see our kids struggle and we want to help as much as possible. I know Gabby’s Mom and Dad work very hard after hours with her! Today their hard work paid off!!

I have to give a HUGE shout out to Epic for providing a fantastic program that this little lady used to find; “Sleeping Beauty 100 Years Later” this app I know has caused Mom and Dad grief before bed as Gabby has to just read one more book or finish the story she is reading, but soooo worth it!!

To Gabby; aka Jordyn Stallwood (and yes, I have parents approval to share her name – she earned this anyways) and even BIGGER SHOUT OUT today WOW YOU ROCKED IT GIRL! I did not foresee, nor expect to witness that today! Keep reading honey, drive Mom and Dad nuts with ‘One more book’ its working for you – always remember the hard work you put in (even when those tears emotionally take over) is SOOOOO WORTH IT!!

Super proud to say today that we use EPIC in GRADE 3 and after 6 fantastic Storytelling performances I am emotionally charged to get to March Break now!! hehehe jk

Way to go Jorydn….I hope Mom and Dad read this as my only regret was not being able to share this moment in more detail for them to experience YOUR MOMENT!

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