Change up your usual class routine and give BreakoutEDU a try. Your students will beg you for more. Really.
Here’s how it works: There is a box. There are some locks. There’s some other stuff, too. You give your students a scenario, and their job is to work together to find a way to crack the combos on the locks to get into the box. Depending on the scenario you choose, students are required to use their content knowledge to solve clues. They also need to problem solve, collaborate, think critically — all of those great 21st Century / Transfer Skills.
A few teachers / staff members already have implemented BreakoutEDU with success, including social studies teachers Tiffany Nix and Nick Aguina, school psychologist Eric Born, and CTE teacher Marcia Zboril. I used BreakoutEDU for an ILC Do Something Cool last semester, and the students left the room asking, “When can we do that again?”
Here is what Tiffany had to say about her experience using BreakoutEDU along with co-teacher Nick:
Q: Which class did you use it in?
A: We used BreakoutEDU in U.S. History class, but I also know some Government teachers recently used it, too!
Q. Which scenario(s) did you use, and why was it appropriate for your class/unit of study?
A. We loved having the kids decode the secret messages which would then lead them to learning about WWI and WWII. I think unlocking the secrets of war were really helpful, and since students have learned about these events in past history classes, this put them in the driver’s seat of their learning. They were able to be challenged while learning.
Q: Describe your students' experience trying to Breakout: Did they break out? Did they collaborate? Was there a natural leader in the group? Etc.?
A. Some students did breakout and others struggled a bit more. Most students worked well together and tried really hard to unlock the boxes. There were some students who, when they struggled, they would give up quickly and get distracted by their phones (but they were definitely the minority). I think most students really had fun with this challenge and saw it as fun rather than hard work. If kids like puzzles, they will love BreakoutEDU because that is mostly what it is, a giant puzzle. When they are successful, they get all excited and they feel accomplished.
Q: Why is it a valuable learning opportunity for students?
A: Students do not realize they are even learning along the way. They are breaking codes and picking up information all while solving riddles. I think they are surprised by how much they take away from each breakout lesson. As an educator, it is really fun to sit back and watch students take charge in this activity. It is sometimes hard to not help students who are struggling and not participating, but it is very rewarding watching students work together to solve clues.
The Breakout Box is available for checkout at Lakes in the ILC, and the Antioch CTE Department has two boxes that they might be willing to let you borrow if you ask nicely. Set-up is a little time consuming your first time around. Talk to Kellie or Marcia for some tips.
There are dozens of scenarios to choose from on the website, so most of the work has been done for you. If you feel up to the challenge, you can design your own scenario, which is what Eric Born did at Lakes, or (gasp) ask the students to build their own scenario using their content knowledge.
Watch this short video for more information about BreakoutEDU.
Coming soon: Virtual reality in the classroom using Google Cardboard.
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