May 25, 2016

BreakoutEDU - Teamwork!

Have you ever been a part of an Escape Room game?  This fun activity, where adults work together to solve clues that enable them to escape from locked rooms, has become popular in cities everywhere.   And now these escape room activities have come to the classroom thanks to James Sanders, the creator of BreakoutEDU. BreakoutEDU is a fantastic critical-thinking activity for students, and it is gaining momentum in classrooms across the US.

Students are given a set of clues and problems to solve (usually based on a theme) in order to unlock a box with multiple locks. After basic directions, students receive no assistance from the teacher!  BreakoutEDU is meant to get students thinking critically, problem solving, working collaboratively, and using teamwork to unlock the box.  BreakoutEDU is meant to be challenging for students as they only have 45 minutes to unlock the box. The clues should be challenging enough to have students reading and rereading,thinking, discussing, and working together as a team. The only help given by the teacher is the opportunity for the class to use two class hint cards that should only be used after a majority of the class has tried to solve the problems.

Watch this short movie trailer I created after conducting a Breakout session in a fourth-grade classroom:

BreakoutEDU is becoming very popular, and the students love everything about it! It’s not what’s inside the box that is the fun; the students will agree that it is the challenge of getting the box open!

When BreakoutEDU is presented to the class, the students get very excited for the challenge when they see the locked box, and they are very motivated about problem-solving. Teachers have commented that they see their students in a different light when they are actively involved in the breakout session.  

As time is running out and there are only a few locks left to be opened, the tension builds in the classroom, and there is a great sense of accomplishment if the box is opened. After each session, a class debrief is held where students reflect on what went well and what they would do differently if given this challenging task again. If all of the locks are not opened, discuss what could be done differently next time and try another breakout session on another day.
To get started, the website has many published games to choose from, and there are also many games in the sandbox that are awaiting publication. These games are free to use. You can also purchase the Breakout box and kit from the website, or you can also choose to make your own.

The site contains all of the information you need to get started.  After you navigate to the site, you can watch a little intro video.  To get access to the games, click on “Get Started.”  Step 1 explains how to obtain a BreakoutEDU kit, but to have access to the BreakoutEDU games already created, go to Step 2 “Complete the Beta Form.”  Once you submit the form, you will be given the password to access all of the BreakoutEDU games. Step 3 gives you a link to go to the games.  If you choose “Search All Games,” after entering the password, you can use the search engine and use filters to narrow your search, such as content focus, age range, and group size.

Another useful link on the games page is the “Facilitation Presentation.” This link gives a little explanation of how to host a game in your classroom. Sometimes it is easier to see a BreakoutEDU game in action, so if you are intrigued about BreakoutEDU and would like to see a game in your classroom, contact your EdTech TOSA to set up a date and time for a BreakoutEDU session.

Additionally, there is a very active Facebook Community Group that you can join. There are numerous posts from teachers just getting started and teachers who are quite savvy with BreakoutEDU. This community is a great resource for tips and tricks about Breakout EDU.

BreakoutEDU is well worth the effort to investigate.

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