Today we get to feature a GUEST post - how exciting!! Sarah Wood is the technology and media specialist at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools. Her current passion is designing and implementing curriculum-based BreakoutEDU games for the classroom. This week she is presenting in Kansas at Podstock about the benefits of doing Breakouts in a classroom setting. Recently, she came and ran a fractions game for our 5th grade class. Check it out!
If you haven't heard of Breakout EDU yet, you are missing out! In a simplified description, Breakout EDU is a way to create an "escape room" for your classroom. Instead of trying to escape your way out of a locked room, you are trying to break out of a box that has multiple locks. There is a fascination with wanting to unlock all of the locks to see what is hidden inside the large box. Students can't resist!
Recently, I had the awesome opportunity of working with Olivia and Christi in designing and implementing a fractions game to use with their 5th grade ZONES group. I was super excited to see the game in action, as they had shared so much about their students with me and I was curious how the game would play out in the classroom. As soon as the students saw the Breakout boxes sitting out, they knew something fun and different was in store for class that day!
Before playing the game, Olivia and Christi had been working with their students on adding, simplifying, and comparing fractions. So, the students already had prior knowledge of how to work through problems using fractions. Adding the element of the Breakout box allowed the teachers to work in the "now what" part of learning...what do you do once you solve a problem? For some, the higher-level thinking is really challenging and mentally draining, but others thrive on it! Sometimes those students that you think would do really well end up having a difficult time, and those who you think might really struggle end up having a time to shine.
For me, watching and facilitating Breakout games never gets old because it is always a new experience each time. I have co-facilitated one particular game over five times so far, and each group always approaches the critical thinking, communication, and collaboration aspects of the game a little differently. For this particular game, there were three boxes/games going on simultaneously in the classroom. The classroom was divided into thirds and groups were assigned a color. All clues were hidden in the students' respective third of a classroom (to avoid checking out what other groups were doing). This allowed for smaller groups and more students to have an opportunity to have a voice in the game.
As a bystander, it is always fascinating to see how the students work with each other and interact with the game components. For example, one of the clues was to use a Google Form containing some questions regarding vocabulary. Students had no problem accessing the form, but struggled with the "what next" part. In solving the the questions on the form, students would be directed to the next part of the clue. As a result, they were stumped for a bit and a couple of groups needed hint cards to help them through the clue.
As part of the class debrief, it is always interesting to hear what students have to say about their experience. Many said that unlocking the first lock made them feel excited and happy, but on the same note, were quick to admit that it was difficult at times in getting to the point where they could unlock a lock. As a first time for most students participating in a Breakout EDU game, I think it was a success and the students overwhelmingly agreed that they would like to do another game.
If you want to see a brief video about how our district has been using Breakout EDU, please watch the video below!
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