Thursday, January 19, 2017

BreakoutEDU and the Serious Awesomeness it Brings to my Classroom!

I have stumbled onto a recent passion in education these last few years.

Putting more FUN into the everyday content that I teach.  This includes but is not limited to...
  • Using Kagan Cooperative Learning strategies to get kids up and moving.
  • Replacing lectures and worksheets with more active forms of learning in which students are still able to grasp an idea of the content.
  • Using reality TV shows to force students to be creative with historic content.
  • Find technology programs, apps, and games to transform the history into something else.
  • Creating projects that have more student voice and choice.
Basically I'm stealing anything that is fun, challenging, or different in order to make my classroom more "student-friendly."

Don't let that fool you.  There are still traditional days in here, but to give you an example.  My 8th graders will have listened to a grand total 6 lectures (all 20 minutes or less) the entire first semester. This number is down from approximately 15-20 just 3 years ago.  The cool part is, my kids are still learning the material without the seated, note-taking format.

And then last year I encountered my first "breakout" experience.

Breakout EDU comes from the "escape room" concepts in which a group of people are locked into a room and have to use a variety of clues and puzzles hidden throughout the room in order to escape. These are very popular forms of entertainment in cities throughout the country.  By participating in an escape room activity the participants use a variety of skills such as collaboration, problem solving, creativity, and perseverance.  All great "buzz" words in education today...and the workforce!





Bringing these skills into the classroom is as simple as locking a box.  That's about where the word "simple" ceases to exist.  The box is locked with many different lock options and the keys or combinations to the locks can only be found through solving a series of content related clues throughout the room.





Without a doubt one of the most fun ways to embed content into those "buzz word" type skills that can be hard (if not impossible) to teach in a traditional classroom.



The website houses over 250 already pre-made games that range from general team building to high school algebra, small group and large group games, even games for adults as well as the little ones in elementary school. (Click here for BreakoutEDU site)

I have now ran all of my classes through a breakout game.  Two of them have been made specifically by me.  I created a breakout on the Executive Branch to kick off our election unit.  My 8th graders loved it and are constantly asking to do another one.  My 7th grade breakout was created over Bleeding Kansas.  This could easily be adapted for a "Causes of the Civil War" Breakout and I'm sharing that here.  Feel free to try it out!

I now see the world completely different.  Everything is a potential puzzle, lock, or clue that could somehow be used to help engage kids in my classroom.   And as much as I love using it to help jazz up class, it's nothing compared to how excited the students get when they know a breakout is coming!

12 comments:

  1. Jill, thanks again for sharing your content. I have been wanting to do one of these ever since I learned about them at a pd session. Any chance you could share the one you created on the executive branch?

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    1. I would be happy to, I just need to do some adjustments to it and get it all prepared. It's on my list! Give it a try... Also, if you haven't already, join the Facebook groups "BreakoutEDU History Teachers" and "General Discussion" you can get a lot of good ideas there!

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  2. How did you start to plan/create your first BreakoutEDU? I have used one of the team building pre made games and it was successful but I would love to try and create one on my own. So looking for any advice.
    Thanks

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    1. The first thing I did was write down the types of locks I had on paper. 4 digit # lock, 3 digit # lock, key lock, directional lock, and a word lock. Then I combed through my materials for that unit, looking for anything that could work for the codes. I also would beg-borrow-steal ideas from the Breakout EDU website and games that have already been created. There's also Facebook groups that you can join where people share ideas for clues. I will say, it seems daunting at first, but once you have done a couple, it gets easier. PS...great stuff for clue ideas on Pinterest as well :)

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  3. I love this idea! All of my 7th grade classes are between 30-35 students. How many kits do you have in your classes and/or how many students do you have assigned to a kit?

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    1. I have three kits for my class and try to divide the kids up evenly for each kit. There are other ideas out there, such a a "ticket system," I'm not quite sure how it all works, but I know there are people out there who have done Breakouts with their whole class. Good luck!

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  4. I was working with your Kansas History activities. Thank you for sharing! I am a little confused about how the Kansas Territorial Governor images are used. Could you explain how they are included? Also, do you have any standards or objectives to go with the activities?

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    1. Hi Kristy,
      I used the picture of the first territorial governor to hide the jump drive. I taped it to the back of Charles Robinson. The other pictures were just there sort of as a "red herring." The idea was that the kids were going to Google or look in the KS Journey book for the first territorial gov. see his picture and then look on that page. I hope that helps. I didn't create specific standards or objectives for the breakout. I used the breakout as an "end of the unit" activity instead of a test. (The kids were still assessed on unit objectives throughout the Bleeding KS unit). I hope this helps answer some of your questions.

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    2. I used your lesson with teachers at a professional development. It was a hit. Thank you

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    3. I'm so glad it was a success! Thank you :)

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    1. I set the timer for 45 minutes. Most groups escaped within the time limit. I can't remember how much time was left at the end. I'm going to run this one again after Christmas Break.

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