Along with me this time, was my teaching colleague, Brad Lehman. He and I were there to chat, have some fun, and learn some new things. Sometimes at conferences it becomes very easy to become joined at the hip with the few people you may know. This can be both good and bad. It gives you a sense of security, but it also may keep you and your collegue(s) from branching out. Brad and I did branch out on our own for a couple of the sessions, which was beneficial to us both. However, we started the day at the same one. He saw the name of the the session and found it intriguing. I wasn't sure what it was about, but I had met the presenter, Brandi Snow, on a couple of other occasions and was excited to see her again.
Little did Brad and I know what Brandi had in store for us....
Brandi's session was entitled BreakoutEDU, and this is what the description said. "Have you heard of an Escape Room? This bring that experience into the classroom!! In this session we will beta test a Breakout game! Breakout is a game where a small group of educators will have 45 minutes to complete a series of challenges, reveal clues, and unlock mysteries in order to "win" the game. This can be used with all ages and all content areas!"
As we entered the room I saw some familiar faces. We said our hellos, chatted about our summers, and talked about some of the things we were working on for this next school year. Then, Brandi put a single box with several differnt locks on the table at the head of the room. She said that we had 45 minutes to work together, find all of the clues, and open the locks and eventually the box. She gave us a couple of "hint," cards and started the timer.
After some brief introduction and some stumbling around, we started to hit our stride. We found most of the clues, and even got one of the four locks off pretty quick. We were feeling good... Then we got stuck. We eventually found the last clue, and we were able to solve the puzzles to unlock the box. We were all thoroughly impressed with the thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork that went into this event. Brad and I immediately began thinking of how we might be able to use this in our classrooms. Brandi showed us the menu of pre-made BreakoutEDU games and we were blown away.
To me though, my mind went to adapting the ideas to fit our school, Vancouver iTech Prep, and our project-based S.T.E.M. approach. Needless to say, I have already created two of my own that I will be using for our project lunches for my different classes. The first one, How It Works for U.S. History, gave clues to students that had to do with the branches of government, the Constitution, and map reading skills. The students were engaged, collaborative, thoughtful, inquisitive, and did I mention energetic? The best part of having it be a part of our project launch was that they were dealing with concepts and content that I want them to learn during the project. As the "prize" for completing the event, each student got a pocket Constitution, that I made for them, and a link to our project launch sheet.
To say that I am a fan of BreakoutEDU is an understatement.
On to the next one!