Games can enhance learning. Our teachers have begun to use the gaming platform called Breakout EDU to reinforce concepts in all types of courses. We piloted Breakout EDU last spring with the math classes. This month, a group of teachers devoted their weekly professional development period to experiencing Breakout EDU for themselves, in order to then integrate it into their subject areas.
Breakout Edu is modeled after the popular "Escape the Room" concept. The escape room is a social activity that locks a team into a room until they complete puzzles to escape from the room. However, in Breakout EDU, teams of participants solve riddles and challenges to open a series of word locks, directional locks and number locks in order to "break into" a box before time expires.
The game requires critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication in order to solve the problem at hand. These are all skills that are essential in today's complex world. The game also develops character traits – perseverance and resilience - and a Growth Mindset – the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work and good strategies. Plus, the game makes learning fun!
On October 17, 2018, when a group of our faculty tried Breakout EDU, Mrs. Freeman reported that they found the Breakout to be "challenging but so much fun. It was very exciting when our group was able to open all the locks. We are looking forward to doing some activities in the library and can't wait."
Ms. Kennedy used a music Breakout session the following week with her 8th grade General Music Class. The session was "Rhythm Rescue." The girls had to solve 5 puzzles to break into the box. To decode one puzzle, the students used treble clef and added or subtracted eighth notes, whole, half and quarter notes., They decoded another puzzle using a special flashlight with invisible ink. QR codes were posted on the walls; when the QR codes were scanned, the girls listened to the rhythm on their phones and found the corresponding rhythms posted around the room.
At the end, Ms. Kennedy posed several reflection questions: What are some rhythms you came across during the game? What was the most challenging part of the game? What was the least challenging part? What is one thing you thought you could do better next time? What did your group do to make sure that everyone worked together?
Breakout EDU can be used in any discipline. Mrs. Vallar looks forward to using Breakout EDU with her math students. "I want them to work together and feel the thrill of finding clues and breaking through locks. There are so many ways to create clues, especially in geometry. I constantly encourage my students to think logically, to piece together information."
Ms. Gaviria plans to introduce Breakout in physical education class, and Mrs. Lyons looks forward to implementing it in science classes. Ms. Johnson will be crafting breakout room elements for student review of material in Latin and Greek courses.