BreakoutEDU allows students the opportunity to collaborate with peers while using critical-thinking skills to solve clues and puzzles to open a variety of locks. This ultimately allows students to unlock the biggest box and officially break out. Students have forty-five minutes to find clues, make meaning of them, and unlock all the locks before time runs out.
In the past, I have created Breakouts relating to the content and skills being taught in my class. Students loved them and always asked when the next Breakout would be. It was amazing how well my students worked together, their perseverance, and how they did not give up until they reached their final goal. If they did not open the final box before time ran out, they reflected on what they could have done differently and used it as a learning experience for their next Breakout activity.
It wasn’t until midway through the school year when I had a group of students ask me if they could create their own Breakout to teach their peers about their chosen topic for our Microlife Unit. I have always allowed students to choose how they demonstrate their learning and loved this idea! I gave my students a list of the locks and off they went to plan. They created a presentation, had QR codes that led to informative videos regarding their topic, number codes that led to students creating words to unlock locks, and more! A few days later, they showed me their plan and how each clue led to a lock and ultimately the final box. We did a run through to double check everything worked properly and ensure their lesson was ready.
The next day the students presented their Breakout. They had the classes sit in the hallway as they read a story about the purpose of their activity and what students would be learning. Next, they broke each class into smaller groups, walked them into the classroom where the clues were hidden, started the timer, and stood back to watch as their classmates attempted to complete their Breakout.
At the end of the lesson, they asked their peers for feedback. It was an awesome moment for me as their teacher to watch them completely take over the class. They called on their peers, listened to their feedback, and revised their activity to make it even better. Additionally, they answered questions their classmates had about their topic, which showed me how much they had learned during their research. Some feedback they received from their peers included:
“I learned a lot about the signs and symptoms of the condition you chose and how to prevent it. The video you showed us was right to the point and very informative.”
“I learned what to do if I see someone having a medical issue and I learned how it impacts the body on a cellular level.”
“Your clues were engaging and difficult.”
“This was so fun! Great job!”
“Clues were hidden in difficult spots. Consider making them more obvious for the next class.”
“I learned a lot. It was fun to learn this information in a different way.”
After this learning experience, more groups of students started creating their own Breakouts to demonstrate their understanding of various standards. Students worked together to create challenging but informative clues. They used various forms of technology, incorporated other subject areas, and used critical thinking and problem solving skills to create their Breakouts. Their passion and creativity was rewarding and fun for their peers and me, and I am so glad they took on the task of creating their own Breakouts!
Kimberly Broton is a 6th Grade Science Teacher in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. She has been teaching 6th Grade Science for 9 years. Previously she taught 7th Grade Math and English Language Arts. You can find her on Twitter @KimberlyBroton.