The breakout experience provides students with a chance to really practice team building, problem solving and critical thinking in a situation that requires all three to be successful. They've also got the added element of a little time pressure, so it encourages making decisions and failing fast.
I facilitated my first breakout session with a class of very eager year 3/4 students. They managed to find Cats Hat within the time frame, in fact I think they my have a had a few minutes to spare. It was really interesting watching the class dynamics, who they leaders were - which actually changed throughout the game and also who was able to cope with not have a roadmap of where to go next.
It was great to be able to chat with students teacher afterwards and talk through the different reactions students had to the breakout. There were a few that really struggled with just wanting to give up when the solution they'd come up with didn't work. There were also a few students who persisted at an activity until it was done and they had they clue they wanted. When reflecting the students were really honest about what they might do better next time. It would be interesting to see what the results are for their next breakout.
I've facilitated a few more breakouts since then - two of which didn't breakout and five that did. The facilitation with adults was almost the same as with students, while adults tended to put clues together a lot quicker they too had moments when some in the group were ready to give up while others persisted with the puzzle. Interestingly adults didn't hide their annoyance with not getting into the box, while students that were trying to give up tended to try and blend in with the background rather than let everyone know about it. It was also interesting to note how many times adults missed important details but over thought other details that ended up being no help to them at all.
One of the other great things about Breakout EDU is being part of a an incredibly supportive community and drawing on their many and varied resources and experiences. There is pretty much a breakout for most areas of curriculum that you might encounter from 5 year olds or even early childhood through to adult learners.
So have you broken out yet? If you get a chance give it a try! It could end up being one of the most frustrating and rewarding professional development experiences you've ever had.
If you're in New Zealand I'd be happy to come and see you or walk you through the process. I'd also be happy to help you sort out you very own Breakout EDU kit. Feel free to contact me via Twitter @nzleeangela or through my website contact button www.angelalee.nz