Awww, Breakout! with #BreakoutEDU

BreakoutEDU Creators James Sanders (@jamestsanders) and Mark Hammons (@mhammons) state that it’s time for something different in education.

I couldn’t agree more.

Throughout this school year, I have been facilitating BreakoutEDU sessions for teachers in my district in order to introduce them to the concept.  More recently, I’ve had the pleasure of helping teachers facilitate BreakoutEDU games for their own classes. Teachers and students alike find that BreakoutEDU is fun, challenging, and just plain awesome. The more BreakoutEDU sessions I lead, the more I hear from teachers that they and their students have become “obsessed” with playing and writing games. That’s what education should be— so engaging that it becomes an obsession.

How Does BreakoutEDU Work?

BreakoutEDU is similar to the concept of an escape room. Students are given clues and puzzles to solve in order to get codes to open locks that are either hidden around the room or locked to the BreakoutEDU box. Once a game is launched, the team works together to beat the clock, solve all the puzzles, and unlock all the locks. “Breaking Out” means that the team has solved the last puzzle, unlocked the last lock, and opened the box to find out what is inside. Puzzles all require students to think critically, communicate, collaborate, and be creative. In many games, the more divergent the thinking, the more likely it is that a puzzle will get solved.img_6165

Necessary materials can be purchased from the BreakoutEDU website or you can purchase locks and the boxes at your local hardware or department store. I purchased an official BreakoutEDU kit, but I have been visiting stores around town for the best prices on locks and other supplies I need to supplement the base kit.img_7142Joining the BreakoutEDU website gives you access to numerous games that have already been submitted and accepted to the store. There are games that are specifically written for adults, which are appropriate to play during staff development or at a conference in order to learn about BreakoutEDU. Most of the games on the website are for students. You must join the website in order to access full descriptions of the games because all games are password protected. You’ll be given the code once you join breakoutedu.com. There are many games that are still under review, and as a member of the community, you are able to play the game with your students and provide feedback about the game before it becomes part of the approved games list. You’ll also have access to a template that helps you organize your own ideas as you start to write your own games.

Breakout Snip

One of the best parts about BreakoutEDU is the Breakout community. Thousands of teachers are active on the BreakoutEDU Facebook page. Every day, community members post pictures of locks or puzzle boxes they’ve stumbled across, ideas for puzzles and clues, or URLs to websites that can be used to create puzzles. Teachers ask questions of the group about facilitation as well as share stories and best practices for facilitating games. James and Mark are both active in the Facebook group, which means that teachers who have been bitten by the bug have direct access to the creators of the product!

BreakoutEDU Homework is the latest addition to the BreakoutEDU community. Each week, a new “homework” question is posted on the website. Some require watching videos and looking for clues within the video to solve the problem presented in the video. Others are purely digital games that don’t require any physical locks. In a digital game, all of the combinations to the locks” are submitted using a Google Form with Data Validation enabled so that the answers must be correct in order to submit the form. If you haven’t already checked out BreakoutEDU Homework, I highly recommend it.

**Note: BreakoutEDU Homework ceased shortly after this post was published. Instead, BreakoutEDU Digital was launched. Digital games are those that require no hardware. Puzzles are all linked from a Google Site (usually) and the “locks” are submitted on a Google form that includes data validation on each question. Check them out!

Common Core Connection

Playing BreakoutEDU games naturally develop students’ abilities to use their contemporary skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity (as in, being able to solve problems in different ways). The true Common Core connection comes when teachers create their own games that fit the standards their students are working toward achieving. Teachers can strategically create clues and puzzles that challenge students to use their knowledge of a subject or concept when developing games. Games can be cross-curricular by involving clues centered around the same content area but that require students to use different sets of skills.

What Do You Think?

What have been your experiences with BreakoutEDU? Have you tried the homework? What do you think?Please share them here!

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