Authentic Intellectual Experiences: Breakout Edu

Guest Blogger: Megan Sardinia (@ms_sardinia) is the Team Leader of the World Languages department at Dobbs Ferry High School in Westchester County, NY.

What is Breakout Edu?

Last Wednesday my fellow teacher leaders and I were excited to find ourselves engaged in a Breakout Edu session led by Jennifer Cronk (@jenniferacronk). Breakout Edu is is a new and creative way to immerse students, and or faculty, in cooperative learning games. If you have ever heard of “Escape the Room,” it is a similar concept. The game consists of a time sensitive “quest” that revolves around one central idea and requires critical thinking and problem solving strategies.

The framework of the session involves different clues in which participants convert data into usable information to solve the puzzle. Each clue leads to data that converts into information and the team to unlock one of many locks around the Breakout Edu box. The group must unlock all of the locks before the session is over. The focus is inquiry based and learning centered.

Breakouts are being used to teach all of the different academic core subjects: math, science, history and language arts. Breakouts lend themselves to any type of team building activity, as each breakout requires collaboration to complete the challenge. Given that, Breakout Edu is also ideal for team building among the faculty or, in this instance, the school’s leadership team. Each Breakout Edu game hits each of the 21st century learning skills that are essential in today’s classroom and world. Some of the specific skills are as follows:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: The game naturally involves critical thinking and problem solving. Participants must use the very vague clues and investigate and research their meaning in order to get the codes to unlock the box. Each participant must apply real world skills to complete the challenge.
  • Collaboration & Communication: The game is naturally interactive and requires a great deal of moving parts. Participants must work together in order to complete the game on time. Within the group many participants can be working on different clues simultaneously. Communication is key in order to make sure that everyone is on the same page and the group is moving through each clue together.
  • Analysis: The clues require research and analysis. Many of the clues need to be analyzed in order to make any sense of them. For example, our key concept was “Forms of Communication” and one of our clues were a series of hieroglyphics that we had to analyze and translate into a code for a lock.
  • Initiative and Self-Direction: Breakout Edu sessions are very much “student centered.” The participants must participate and take part in order for the problem to be solved in the allotted amount of time. Each participant must use his/her strengths in order to help the team solve the problem.

In case you are wondering, we did solve the Breakout session with time to spare (9 minutes to be exact)! It was naturally engaging and fun for all of the teacher leaders. I can envision how successful this learning platform could be in any school. Have you tried Breakout Edu games or similar platforms in your schools? Feel free to share your experiences with us!

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