10 Ways Classrooms Can Use Big Universe

Whether your district or school is looking to supplement a strong literacy program already in place or needs to implement an all-encompassing solution, Big Universe’s approach to balanced literacy can fulfill your needs. Featuring more than 13,000 leveled ebooks, our robust library serves the ever-growing demands of today’s diverse classrooms.

From music teachers with hundreds of students to a resource teacher with four, Big Universe can be molded to accommodate a wide variety of educational and curricular needs.

Read more: What is Big Universe?

To get you started, here are 10 ways to use Big Universe in the classroom.

1. Create an integrated literacy program
Some classrooms already have a strong literacy program in place. However, there may be a few gaps that prevent students from reaching their full potential. The key to a balanced program is addressing literacy from every angle. For example: even if a student can read a text, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she can derive meaning, write about it proficiently, or speak about it fluently, too.

Regardless of your current literacy program, Big Universe serves as an ideal supplement, providing students with greater access and more choice when it comes to their learning. Big Universe offers features in writing, fluency, phonics, and assessment to help fill any gaps and round out an already established literacy program.

2. Inspire a love of reading
How many students do you think read simply for the love of reading? It’s easy to view reading as a chore, or just another assignment from the teacher.

Imagine the possibilities when students can choose from thousands of ebooks that not only meet their reading level, but also match their interests. Big Universe’s platform is designed to make reading enjoyable, interactive, and personalized. Students can customize their own digital bookshelves, track progress, and find topics that interest them with the search tool.

3. Increase nonfiction reading
More than 70 percent of our library is made up of nonfiction content, offering students authentic texts covering a wide range of subjects.

Big Universe’s fiction/nonfiction pairs give students the opportunity to read a fiction book about a particular topic, then dive deeper into the facts with the nonfiction text. For example, students interested in animals might enjoy our fiction/nonfiction pair about bears. Students start by reading the poetic short story, Scare a Bear by Kathy-jo Wargin, then learn about bears and their habitat in Anne Wendorff’s Watch Animals Grow: Bear Cubs.

Read more: How Nonfiction Content Can Help Struggling Readers

4. Turn every device into a literacy tool
One challenge classrooms face when it comes to literacy is access. Without an easy way to access quality content, implementing an effective literacy program could be extremely difficult.

Big Universe turns every device into a reading machine. Whether you’re using a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or electronic whiteboard, Big Universe can be accessed online 24/7 to support instruction.

5. Meet readers where they are
It’s no secret that every student reads, writes, and learns at a different pace. That’s why every single book in the Big Universe library is categorized into one of four reading levels. Teachers can assign students books that match their reading level, and students can search for their own books based on reading level.

Big Universe’s library also covers a wide range of topics in math, science, history, art, and language arts to give students ample amount of choice when it comes to choosing subjects that pique their interest.

6. Differentiate reading with special collections
From English Language Learners (ELL) to special education students, no one is left behind when it comes to our robust library of texts.

Featuring more than 1,400 Spanish texts, Big Universe caters to students who are new to the English language or interested in learning foreign languages.

Classrooms with struggling readers can also take advantage of Big Universe’s hi-lo texts. This stands for “high interest, low reading level.”  The idea behind hi-lo texts is that if a student wants to read a book, and can read that book, this may result in increased reading interest and confidence.

7. Evaluate oral fluency
Did you know that oral fluency plays a significant role1 in a child’s ability to develop reading comprehension skills? If a student reads aloud accurately and expressively, it likely indicates2 that he or she comprehends a text.

Big Universe’s oral fluency feature3 will help teachers accurately measure and track student progress as they read aloud.

Read more: The Critical Role of Oral Fluency in Reading Comprehension

8. Build writing skills and creativity
Big Universe’s writing feature goes beyond practicing sentence structure and spelling words. Students can write and illustrate their own narratives, add animation, and even “publish” their creations to share with teachers and classmates.

Teachers can use the built-in writing feature to assess how well students comprehend the stories they read, too.

9. Use data to tailor instruction
Why is data important in education? It can indicate which students need to be challenged more, who needs support, and specific literacy skills that may need more attention.

The Big Universe platform collects data for teachers in real time, allowing them to see what and how much students are reading, and how they’re performing on assessments. Teachers can use this data to manage their rosters and tailor instruction to each individual student.

Read more: How to Use Data to Tailor Instruction

10. Assess and report on student progress
Big Universe users have access to 1,000 quizzes and assessments in Kindergarten through grade 12. These can be utilized to gauge how well a student understands a text or to help students practice test-taking skills before state exams.

This robust digital literacy solution goes beyond just providing thousands of quality texts to students and teachers. Learn how you can use Big Universe in your classroom today.

Request a demo today or visit our website to learn more.


1Jenkins, B. The Essential Nature of Developing Oral Reading Fluency. Fast ForWord. Scientific Learning. 2011.

2Álvarez-Cañizo, M. Suárez-Coalla, P. Cuetos, F. The Role of Reading Fluency in Children’s Text Comprehension. Frontiers in Psychology. 2015; 6: 1810

3Oral fluency feature is in development for an estimated winter release in SY2018-19

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