It’s a rare thing to walk away from a PD session feeling motivated to go forth and put into action the ideas that were just presented. In fact, it was shared in a study that while 90 percent of teachers surveyed reported having participated in sessions of professional development, most of those teachers also reported that it was totally useless (Darling-Hammond et al, 2009).
But after attending a professional development session at Michigan State University’s 2016 College of Education Technology Conference, I left one particular session feeling so inspired, excited, and totally pumped up to put what I learned into practice as soon as possible. What got me so excited? I’m here to share with you… Breakout EDU!
What is Breakout Edu?
Breakout EDU is an educational movement that is sweeping the nation… or at least southern Michigan. The presentation put on by a cohort of teachers and tech integration specialists from Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, introduced me to something so unique and innovative, that I knew right away I had to share.
Breakout is a platform for immersive learning – an activity that can be used for a wide variety of purposes and audiences.
While it can be adapted to match virtually any need, curriculum, or content area, Breakout EDU games more importantly teach critical thinking, teamwork, and complex problem solving.
How Can a Game be Innovative?
Steps to a Breakout EDU Session
Step 1: Setup the Puzzle
First of all, there are a ton of already published Breakouts, available at the BreakoutEDU.com website. You can get the password to them when you sign up to join the community. Leave a comment below if you want me to share it with you. If you want to try a tested and approved out, go with the published editions. There’s also the “sandbox” where users can share their works in progress.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can create your own! There are planning sheets available on the website, so you can make sure your clues lead to other clues in an orderly manner. As you’re thinking of what kinds of puzzles will lead to the clues, consider the following…
Puzzle Ideas – Only limited by your imagination!
- Google Forms
- Data Validation
- Google Maps
- Google Cardboard
- Hidensee App
- Automatic email reply
- Primary source documents on flash drive
- QR Codes
- Book > Page > Word > Letter
- Audio recordings
- Separate “quizzes” where answers combine to reveal answer
- Video: time-stamp when something is mentioned
Step 2: Set Up the Room
Following the instructions provided in the Breakout challenge, the facilitator sets up the room, hiding keys, boxes, and inserting any required mystery items.
Step 3: Get Ready
The facilitator invites the players into the room and introduces the story. Depending on how many boxes you’re running at once, you may also need to divide the group into teams, and assign them to a certain part of the room. Explain the rules, and answer any questions. I recommend sharing the following with your group before beginning:
5 Tips for Success
- You are working together as one team
- The better you communicate and collaborate the more successful you will be
- If you solve a puzzle, make sure the rest of your team knows
- Come together intermittently to review what you know
- Decide as a team when to use your hint cards
Step 4: Breakout!
Players have a fixed amount of time to solve a series of challenges, riddles, and mysteries in order to “breakout.” Each game is designed so that players are immersed in the experience and are racing against the clock to break out before time expires.
Step 5: Debrief with Teams
One of the most important parts of a Breakout session is the debriefing period. This gives teams a real chance to reflect on how their teamwork went, and how they could improve for next time.
Debrief Questions Could Include:
- How did your group work well together?
- How do you think your group could have been more effective?
- What puzzles did you find the most difficult?
- How did you utilize each individual’s strengths?
- How did you find out who had what strength?
- How did you contribute to your team?
- What would you do differently next time?
- Do you feel like your ideas were heard?
Step 6: Take a Picture!
Take a picture of your successful and unsuccessful team and post to Twitter, using the hashtag #BreakoutEDU!
How to get started in your school:
I recommend checking out the official Breakout EDU Facebook group. This is a forum for members of the Breakout EDU community to collaborate, brainstorm, and connect with other educators using Breakout EDU.
Keep Calm and Breakout!