Have you Broken out recently?

Photo from Pixabay

If you haven't heard of it before BreakoutEDU is a great resource to try in almost any classroom.  It's like having your very own escape room in a box.  

Escape rooms are great fun why not give one a go for your next team development session there are plenty to chose from here in Auckland and many other locations around the world.

What is it?

BreakoutEDU is the classroom version of an escape room.  Both physical and digital versions are usually based on a theme or story.  The Physical version involves working as a team to unlock the many locks on a large BreakoutEDU box.  Clues are hidden or in plain sight around the space you're working in and can be anything from putting a puzzle together, finding essential information in a video clip to deciphering a secret code. 

The BreakoutEDU community are a wealth of information on game suggestions, working through issues and sharing new games.  There are Facebook groups for most subject areas that are just a click away if you need a hand.  There's also an extensive how-to guide on the website.

A recent addition to the BreakoutEDU family is platform access, a paid service that offers access to even more games designed by BreakoutEDU experts and the ability to create digital games using the BreakoutEDU platform.  There is still free access to games created by the wider community.

Photo from Pixabay

Why I like it

It's something a little different and allows for both competition and co-operation depending on how you set the game up.  As well as being great fun they are a tangible way for students to use soft skills like resilience, perseverance, teamwork and critical thinking.  A reflection time at the end of the game is a great way to get students to look at their own and their teams performance and to highlight soft skills students might need a bit more help with. 

Once students have a grasp on what it's all about there is potential for them to start designing their own games and sharing them with other classrooms or within the classroom group.  Another way to get students looking at fit for purpose, how their design works/doesn't work for their intended audience.  

The digital version is great for all the soft skills mentioned above but also giving that check on understanding that's a little different to a test or quiz.  Again students can create their own digital games requiring them to understand the topic they're creating the game for.  

Getting Started

Check out the BreakoutEDU website and join the Facebook groups that suit your teaching situation.  

You'll need a Breakout kit for the physical version or just a login for the digital version.  

There is a kit available to purchase on the website and although posted from the US arrives in NZ pretty quickly.   The kit works with all the games on the website.  You can create your own just be aware that some of the locks may not be exactly same so you'll need to adapt games to suit whatever you purchase on your own.  If you're looking at using the kit with larger groups of students 20+ you might find that more than one is needed or just bank on needing to adapt the games to add a few more clues if you have a larger group.  

Tips & Tricks

  • Give it a go with a smaller group
    • If you're feeling a little worried about jumping straight in with your whole class why not try it with a small group or even a group of teachers.  There are plenty of games on the platform and free on the website aimed at adults, even some of the children's games have proved challenging for groups of teachers.
  • It's a learning situation - don't stress if it all goes wrong
    • It's possible that locks can get stuck or clues don't work the way they should especially if they're links to websites so be prepared for a learning situation and tell the students that too - you're learning how to do this so it might not all go to plan the first time. RELAX
  • Don't skip the reflection
    • Time is often short in classrooms but it's really important to give students that reflection time, this is where a lot of the soft skill learning is reinforced for students and teachers so try not to skip the reflection at the end.  If you have an official breakout kit the reflection cards are fantastic for providing prompts after a game
  • Share your team photo 
    • It's a bit of a tradition to take a photo of the team at the end of a breakout and share this.  The #breakoutedu tag is full of photos of successful, almost successful and epic fail photos why not share yours too. It's also a great record of what you've been up to in your classroom.
  • Don't be afraid to adapt a game
    • If you can't find a game that suits your topic or theme exactly then adapt one, create your own clue or change a clue slightly to suit your situation.  This is the first step to designing your own games
  • Keep note of your lock codes
    • Create your own system for noting down which codes you currently have your locks set to - it'll save headaches trying to remember the code
  • Just for fun
    •  You're games don't have to be related to what you're currently learning there are so many options that you can just play for fun not related to any currently learning.  Remember to have fun too, don't make the games into a chore by having lots of rules.