This was originally published as part of the District 75 Tech Connect Newsletter.
If you haven’t participated in an escape the room or ‘Breakout’ event then we recommend you seek one out. There will be several at ISTE and BrainPOP regularly holds them for their certified educators. These sessions are where a group of people are willingly “locked in” and given an hour to break out. They follow clues hidden in the room or online, sidestep the red herrings, and work together to beat the clock. The startup Breakout EDU has developed a way to use this playful, exciting model in the classroom environment with kits.
WHAT IS IT?
BreakoutEDU provides a kit (pictured above) that includes the necessary locks, boxes, and tools along with cards to promo post-game discussions. These items can be used to create puzzles and treasure hunts for your students to discover content. While there is, of course, a cost for the kit and other merchandise, the games are free. That means you can purchase your own locks, toolbox, and resources anywhere you can find them to save money and still participate.
Once you complete the free registration you gain access to the massive game library with hundreds of games for every major subject and grade level. The games have thorough setup instructions in text and video, lock setup, and links to game printouts and video resources.
Oh, and did we mention that there is a digital version of BreakoutEDU that can be done using Google Forms and hidden links. It allows you to try it out before you are able to pull a kit together or use it for individual breakouts.
By playing games you can artificially speed up your learning curve to develop the right kind of thought processes. – Nate Silver
WHY USE IT?
It can be used as an opening icebreaker on a topic or as a summative assessment. Below are reasons it’s a powerful educational tool as described by the School Library Journal.
- Fun – engages the students
- Adaptable – many games already exist across a variety of subjects
- Collaboration – requiring students to work as a team
- Critical Thinking – problem solving skills at their most fun
- Creativity – a straight line is not always the solution
- Communication – let your team know what you know
- Perseverance & Pressure – get the grit to push through obstacles and learn to fail forward
- Inference – learn the art of if this…then that
- Student-Centered – learners are actively rather than just receiving information
- Inquiry-Based – foster curiosity and a love for learning
HOW TO ADAPT
Some of the games include adaptations, but you can always adjust it yourself simply by simplifying the clues, adjusting the teams, providing specific roles for students (i.e. note taker or searcher), or providing extra hints. In fact not giving hints is sometimes the hardest job for a facilitator.
You can go online to learn more and watch it in action. If you’re ready for more you can also take a group of staff or students to an escape room in NYC or Long Island like I Escaped, the Enigma Room, the Mystery Room, Challenge Rooms, or Spooky Room 479.
— Sean M. Arnold (@seanmarnold) July 13, 2017