Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Short on time? Try a Mini-Breakout

A few posts ago, I wrote about BreakoutEDU and how cool it is for the classroom.  I just LOVE the concept and how it can combine collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking with content. (Read that post here.)

But I get it.  Sometimes teachers don't have the time to sit down and plan or set up an entire breakout that's going to take a majority of the class period (if not a couple days depending on time and post-breakout discussion.).  And sometimes it's just plain over-whelming.  Too much to think about during the precious few minutes of plan time.

Today I scaled it back.  Instead of creating a game filled with a variety of locks and clues, I used just one.  One lock, one locked box, with one "puzzle" to solve.

I really had no real idea how it would go.  I decided to try it on my HS class of future teachers. (Read about my Teaching as a Career Class here).  I have told them many times this year...since it is the first year for the program...that they are my guinea pigs.  This time, I was testing out how a Mini-Breakout would work to teach new vocabulary terms.

It was awesome!

Here's what I did.

I selected four of the most difficult vocabulary words on our next topic and  used a basic "Frayer Model" type of vocabulary template.  Word. Definition. Example. Image.  I filled in all areas of the chart with correct information. I did this for each word giving me a total of four Frayer model vocabulary cubes.

I then went to work making my QR codes.  Using Google Docs and a free QR code generator I created the link the code would take the students to, looking something like this...

Whoop Whoop!
6

I created a separate one for each word, each with a different number.

I placed the QR Code in the center of the Frayer Model square, printed off the four vocabulary cards and cut them into four separate pieces.

An example of one of cards I made. I had a total of 4.

Shuffle the pieces all together.

Now the fun part.  I placed a 4 digit lock on a small lock box (anything that locks would work here...even a zipper pouch with at least two zips in order to lock it.)  Wrote the words "Alphabetical Order" on the board as a clue... some saw that right away, others had to be directed.



When class started students were randomly placed at a table which had the lock box and set of cards. We briefly reviewed the Frayer Model and reminded them that each block of 4 cards would include a word, definition, example and image.

I smiled, told them that this would be MUCH MORE FUN than copying down definitions on a worksheet, and told them to begin.



That's it, no other instruction on what to do and how to figure it out.  I just let them go and attempt to work with their partner to figure it out.  Some groups knew what to do right away, while others had to practice a little "growth mindset" before realizing what they needed to do.



Eventually all groups had it figured out.  If all four squares were correctly put together, the QR code would take them to a number for that word.  If you put all the words (with their numbers) in alphabetical order you would have the correct 4 digit combination to get into the locked box.



Success!  This "trial run" on my high school class told me that I don't have to spend hours pouring over clues and locks and content to create something fun and engaging in class.  This is definitely something I will do again with my middle school classes.  It took me one day to pull it all together.  Definitely time worth spent!

***My HS students have had experience with Breakout EDU and understand the basic idea behind using QR codes and trying to figure out how to break into a locked box.  If your class hasn't ever done anything like this before, you may need to give more instruction than I did.

16 comments:

  1. What a great idea for a "mini breakout"! Super simple, yet fun and engaging. Thanks for sharing!! Was there anything inside the mini lock box? :P

    Amanda
    First Grade Garden

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    1. Yup! I had just a few Life-Savors in the box, enough for each person to have a couple. Nothing big, just a simple reward. They were THRILLED with it! :)

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  2. What a great way to make Breakout a mini! Love the format for easy cutting and code! Genius. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Thanks for sharing. Thinking this would be a good way for me start on making my own breakout.

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  4. I love this! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Would you be willing to share your Frayer Model Template?
    Thanks

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  6. Great Idea! How long did you give them to complete this?

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    1. It took my HS students probably less than 20 minutes for each group to finish. These were brand new words that they hadn't seen before, so they had to figure it out. It could go faster or slower depending on the level of student and their experience with Breakout type games.

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  7. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing....thinking I might try it with math too....1/4; a pie chart representing 1/4; a word problem, etc.....

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    1. Awesome! Definitely cross-curricular, that's for sure! I can see using it with math/science formulas. Good luck!

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  8. Hi there, I love this idea and am trying it out with some chemistry related things. Question - did you laminate your sheets before you cut them. Just playing around with things now and when I"m piecing my parts together, the QR code can't be read , I'm guessing because the paper is too flimsy. Let me know, thank you, Cathy

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  9. Hi! I found that you have to be really precise with lining up the code after cutting it. I didn't laminate the cards. There also seemed to be a difference between the QR readers. I don't know if that was with the phone camera or the app itself. My phone reader did really well if the code was put back together, but some of the ones on the kids phones were more picky about the code being perfectly lined up. you could have a backup paper with uncut QR codes and let the kids scan the code once you see they have correctly put the terms in order. I hope this helps.

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  10. Thanks for sharing. I tried this in class and thought it was so much fun! Students had very little prior knowledge about words and concepts but were able to put the frayer model pieces together and "break out". Great way to introduce new topics or act as a review!

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad you and your students liked it! Thanks for the comment!

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