Looking for an amazing way to engage your language learners? Try a BreakoutEDU game! BreakoutEDU has essentially created a product that allows students to break into a box (instead of escape out of a room like an escape room!) that increases student motivation but also promotes collaboration in the language classroom. Students work in teams to solve problems that have been given to them. After they solve each problem (or set of problems), they open one lock on the breakout box. Once they solve all of the problems and open all of the locks, they can open the box to discover the prize that has been left for them!
Here are some helpful hints for success if you want to try this in your classroom:
1. Try to have several breakout boxes, making groups between 4 and 6 students. Having larger groups doesn’t allow for as much collaboration and participation between members. If having several boxes is impossible, sometimes it’s possible to have half of the students doing one activity (like working in a computer lab or in the library) while the other half of the students are doing the breakout box.
2. Color code everything! I color code all of the materials in each breakout box so I know where they go when we’re done using them, and I also color code every clue they have to find around the room so there aren’t 20 people looking at one piece of paper at a time. It’s also helpful to have a set of color coded cards to hand out to students as they walk in so they are already in their color coded group when they sit down.
3. Tell students the game rules and expectations from the beginning. Set up the game by starting with an intriguing introduction and giving them a reason for why they need to break into the box. Set up rules such as: all students must participate and know the answers to each of the problems and one student in the group should be the designated “locksmith” and show me the correct answer before attempting to unlock each lock.
4. I also highly suggest having all of the boxes at the front of the room, with students working in teams at other parts of the room. If you put the box right next to them, it lends to more possibilities with students fiddling with the locks and resetting them accidentally.
5. It’s essential to have a “lock parking lot” (available here at BreakoutEDU) where students leave the opened locks when they take them off the box. This allows you to account for all locks and ensure that they aren’t reset in the process.
6. Give your students something to do after they finish! There are some great discussion and reflection questions included in the kits, but I like to have an extension activity where students demonstrate what they learned. After all groups finish, we have a discussion about the process and the content.
7. If you have more than one class period in a day doing a breakout box activity, give yourself enough time to reset the locks! It takes quite a while to set up the locks if you have more than 4 boxes, so be sure to start while students are working on something else if you don’t have much time between periods.
These are just a few suggestions I have as you start to delve into thew world of BreakoutEDU. I have done several of these with my students and they have LOVED it every time! It’s the perfect way to engage students, deliver new content or review old content in an exciting way and to help students develop problem solving skills!
Checkout breakoutedu.com to purchase a kit and gain access to games that have already been designed according to your content area! Even if you don’t have a kit yet, you can start by having your students complete the tasks, show you the code, and then give them the next task. It may not be as exciting as breaking into a box, but it still increases motivation!
Here is a game for Cinco de Mayo that I developed if you’d like to give it a try!