Sunday, September 17, 2017

3 Things I've Learned About Breakout EDU

 I first wrote about our adventures with Breakout EDU after I discovered it on summer professional development trips last year. You can read about our first library orientation Breakout EDU here. Since that time, we have learned so much about how to facilitate such sessions. To illustrate this, I want to present 3 things I've learned about Breakout EDU over the past year. I hope you will find these points helpful as you begin planning your own sessions.

1. Have enough boxes for everyone - The first year we conducted Breakout sessions, we didn't always have enough boxes for everyone. As I recall, we might have 12-15 students assigned to one box. We discovered it was more difficult to keep everyone engaged with higher numbers on one box. This year we have used more boxes for classes when possible. By keeping 7-10 students assigned to one box, we noticed a higher level of engagement during our library orientation sessions this year (2017-2018). The students also seemed to enjoy it more by having fewer student teams on each box.

2. Take up the locks when students unlock them - I'm not sure how many locks were ruined last year, but it was significant! After students unlock locks, they will automatically play with them. When this happens, I promise they will accidentally reset the locks. This can make for a really bad day of Breakout EDU! This year, I had students bring me any locks or lockboxes immediately after opening them. I would give them a hint to move on if they followed this direction. The results were no ruined locks and a happier experience for all! Also, at the end of the day be sure to reset locks to something you can remember while they are in storage. We now reset the number locks to 000 or 0000. The direction lock to UP-UP-UP-UP and the word lock to SPELL. We have discovered that we cannot always remember the last Breakout EDU puzzle from several months prior. Resetting your locks for storage will greatly reduce future stress!

3. You don't have to help them immediately, let them problem solve! - During our first year of Breakout EDU sessions, I felt like I had to give the students a hint every time they got stuck. I hated seeing them struggle. I missed the point. Breakout EDU is all about problem-solving and teamwork. Let them struggle and think as a team. The better they work as a team, the more successful they will be. The struggle is part of the experience. Offer hints, but make them agree to ask for a hint as a team. Consider giving them a specific number for hint support advice (for instance, each team can only receive 3 hints, etc).

Breakout EDU takes a lot of time to plan and execute. I had several students ask if I like setting up puzzles. I told them it was very time consuming to do, but it is so worth it to see them learn through engaging puzzles. Be sure to share your favorite Breakout EDU moments and/ or blog articles in the comments below!

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

How we helped geography classes Skype with national parks in the library.

3 things every educator should remember.

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