Breakout!

At a semi-recent PD day, I got the chance to try a Breakout Room scenario thanks to Tara McLauchlan. In a Breakout Room (or escape room), participants are immersed in a narrative that takes place in a single room and requires their escape. Escape is typically achieved by opening a heavily locked box. Elements have been placed about the room that are either clues or distractors. Distractors (red herrings) are meant to throw you off and make you chase your own theories. Solving clues allows you to unlock locks on the breakout box. Once the box is open the players win, if done within the given time limit. Participants are challenged to use their intelligence, reasoning, and teamwork to escape the scenario. So basically all the 6 Cs.

Breakout EDU has now adapted this experience to the classroom (watch the link for a much better description), which is the rendition that I participated in. They have all sorts of pre-made scenarios that teachers (or whoever) can put together and facilitate. You can order a pre-made kit or make your own.

I had been doing a greek myth/ancient hero classroom story with my students for a while and needed a good finale. Creating my own breakout scenario from scratch would be perfect! Tara loaned me the breakout box with all the locks, gizmos, and do-dads, as well as her personal knowledge on the subject. After many hours of creating scenarios, combos, puzzles, media files, and red herrings, the Breakout experience was ready for my students.

 

The pictures above are just a glimpse of the mayhem and fun we had. The whole experience from planning to completion was excellent. At no point did I think this wasn’t worth the time. I will undoubtably do a breakout scenario again, and now I have all sorts of different ideas on how to create more challenging and immersive puzzles, clues, and distractors.

One of my favourite parts was when the students finally unlocked the breakout box…only to discover that there was another locked case inside! HAHA

The reaction upon discovering a locked box within the quintuple-lock box. #classroomstory #breakoutedu

A post shared by schmidtsclass (@schmidtsclass) on

This experience reminded me of these quotes I read in an Atlantic magazine article a few months ago.

Learn Through Play

Learn With Joy

These quotes sum up not only Breakout EDU, but the fact that we need more gaming in schools. I would classify Breakout EDU as a way to “gamify” the classroom. The content of the puzzles can be created to suit any curriculum and students will attack that content without knowing that they are learning it.

I love seeing cool, relevant stuff like this being adapted to the classroom. I applaud those innovators in education who keep up with the culture.

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3 thoughts on “Breakout!

  1. Sharon Skrapits

    I don’t know if you still check this post, but I am very interested in purchasing a kit for my gifted seminar class. However, our classes are only 42 minutes long so I was wondering if it is possible to split it up into two – thirty minute sessions or does it have to be done all at once?

    1. Hi Sharon, thanks for commenting. BreakoutEDU comes with pre-made scenarios, but you are still free to customize and adapt the puzzles and problems. It wouldn’t be difficult to make the 40 minutes work…but should the participants escape everytime? 😉
      I designed my own scenarios and set of puzzles and tasks to match the unit we had been working on in class. Lots of fun, but lots of planning involved.

      1. Sharon Skrapits

        Thanks so much for your reply. I take it that means I cannot set the timer for 30 minutes one day, leave everything as is, and then set it for thirty minutes the next day. That’s what I was hoping to do.

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