Lesson developed by guest Instructor Amy Carpenter, MS/HS Librarian, Stillwater (NY) Central School District.
Breakout EDU is an immersive learning games platform that is being increasingly utilized in education. It is based on the popular escape room phenomenon, but as we are not typically allowed to lock our students in a room (tempting though that may sometimes be…), Breakout EDU turns this idea on its head and has a locked box that students must get into. There is a great introductory video on the Learn More section.
Breakout EDU is great for teaching and encouraging those soft skills that are so important in life, but can be hard to teach. Communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration can all be found in abundance in any Breakout EDU game. To be successful, students must persevere, attempt solutions, fail, and try again. Communication is crucial.
Games are played with a Breakout EDU kit that includes two boxes, several different locks, an invisible ink pen, a UV flashlight and a red filter. In addition to the physical Breakout EDU games, there are also digital and hybrid (physical/digital) games available.
On a personal note, as a middle-high school librarian, I have found that one of the hardest groups of teachers to collaborate with is math teachers. Breakout EDU lends itself beautifully to math games and problem solving, and has made a huge difference in how and how much I work with my math teachers.
TOOLS TO EXPLORE
The first thing to check out is the BreakoutEDU page itself. There you can click Purchase to check out the cost of the kit ($150–includes one year of platform access) or just platform access ($60 for one year).
The other option is to click Learn More to investigate the available games. There are links on this page to check out the introductory video, purchase the kit, see the Subject Pack games that are included with paid platform access, and check out digital games. If you click on the Games link at the top, you will be prompted to create a free account (more on that below).
Other tools to check out include the many, many, Pinterest boards devoted to BreakoutEDU and escape rooms for puzzle ideas to create your own games, and the BreakoutEDU Facebook boards. There are a couple of general boards intended to help you get started. The Getting Started with Breakout EDU page has lots of good information about starting out and tips for locks. You can also check out the main Breakout EDU Facebook page and also be sure to take a look at the Subject specific pages, which are listed on the Breakout EDU blog.
The very best way to find out what Breakout EDU is all about is to experience a breakout. If you see a Breakout EDU session at a conference, go to it. If you have a local colleague with a Breakout EDU kit, ask them to show you! If you’re local to Stillwater, feel free to swing by or get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org). If not, check with your local BOCES. I know that several local BOCES have kits available to borrow. Some are available through Model Schools, some through the School Library System and some through Multimedia, depending on your BOCES.
You should also thoroughly explore the Breakout EDU site. You’ll need to sign up for a free account here. You can use a Google, Facebook or Twitter account to log in, or simply sign up with your email address. You will be asked if you have a platform access code, but if you don’t, never fear–there are hundreds of free Breakout EDU games for you to check out.
Find a game that looks interesting to you and look through the materials and set up video. Some of my favorites to start out with are on the Team Building page: Totally Radical 80’s Time Travel Adventure, Dr. Johnson’s Lab (about a zombie apocalypse) and Time Warp. They are also all good examples of different types of puzzles that can be used and modifications that can be made. If you have a kit, try setting one up and taking a game out for a test run.
You may also want to check out a digital game. These can be played individually or as a team. One of our favorite things with digital games is project them onto the screen at the front of the room, then break the class into groups and assign each group a lock. This way each group has a goal, but all are working together to solve the whole game. If a group solves their lock, they put the code into the main computer so everyone can see that it has been solved, then they can move on and try another puzzle. One that my sixth graders did just before break that is fun is Elf Panic –give it a try! If you want the answers, try this link. A much harder one is Mercury 13 (full disclosure–I haven’t figured out all the answers to this one yet (but haven’t peeked!), and it requires some research!).
Here’s another sample mini digital breakout that you could try.
Finally, take a look at the game creation process. My favorite link on this page is the Brainstorm Worksheet, which gives a lovely visual look at the locks, boxes, tools and the game creation process.
YOUR BLOG POST: As usual, share what you read, explored, created. And share your thoughts about how this can be used with your students and colleagues.
*TURNING IN YOUR ASSIGNMENT
- Write & publish your blog post.
- Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
- Return to the Google Classroom assignment page, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.
*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.