Escape Classrooms 21st Century Skills for 21st Century Learners

Teachers are constantly looking for ways to engage students in content, challenge them to grow as thinkers, work together well with a team, develop communication skills, and be able to persevere through challenges. This is challenging for even the most veteran of teachers. So, what is a teacher to do? Break Out!!

One of the best parts of the break out is that, if well-prepared, all of those points are addressed in a short period of time. Students are engaged in an activity while developing skills using creativity, innovation, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication.

So, what is a break out and how can teachers use it in their classrooms to engage learners?

A break out is a mini-version of an escape room that challenges students to solve puzzles and clues to eventually 'break out" out of a location within a set time.

A break out can be developed to review or introduce content areas. Teachers may also choose to use it as an avenue to development teamwork and thinking skills with students.

The video below shows one group working through a math break out that we use as a warm-up. One group works through while 3 others finish tasks in our room. Flexibility in grouping is one of the many positives of using a break out.

Getting Started: Before you get too excited, get some materials together. It is an investment at the beginning so it would be best to create a materials list and share it with administration or donors with an explanation of how those items will be used.

Breakoutedu.com has an extensive list of items that you may purchase from the site. The basic kit will cost $125 and includes:

Items included in the general kit

1 Large Breakout EDU Kit

1 Hasp

1 Alphabet Multilock

1 Directional Multilock

1 three-digit lock

1 four-digit lock

1 key lock

1 UV light

1 Deck of Reflection Cards

1 invisible ink pen

1 small lockable box

1 USB thumb drive

2 Hint cards

Large BreakoutEDU box

Many of the supplies in the box can be put together in smaller amounts as well. Amazon has so many options to add to your kit and allows you to piece what you think you'll use the most. My opinion of MUST HAVE items:

Several combination number locks

Amazon has multi-pack sets very reasonably priced.

Multiple small boxes or containers with or without locks

Multiple word locks

A container to keep all of your items

Craft supply containers, tackle boxes, or even tool boxes are great options.

The BreakoutEdu kit is a wonderful option to get many supplies quickly, but don't be afraid to explore other options. A lot of friends have old pencil boxes, combination locks, or small containers that can be used in the break outs. Many small lock sets are available through Amazon for fairly reasonable prices.

A plan sheet needs to include materials, step by step instructions for you for set-up, and combinations for any locks. The better the plan, the better the break out!

Break out sessions can be enjoyed by ages 6 - 100 if they are set up well!

Modeling good discussion, conflict resolution, and lock opening techniques may help groups work through the puzzles efficiently.

When you finish a break out, return all lock combinations to zeroes so it lessens the chance of losing or forgetting a combination.

Try to minimize the steps with your first break outs so you can gauge student time. I try to start with groups setting a time and other groups trying to beat that time. It helps determine time limits for the future.

For more information please visit: www.escapeclassrooms.com for information on inservice opportunities as well as good background information.

www.breakoutedu.com for resources, supplies, and games that are already set for use. Follow their plans to set up some general break out sessions.

Pinterest! There are loads of ideas for break out or escape rooms.

Email me for copies of resources, questions, or for more information: jrahn@owen-withee.k12.wi.us


Created with images by frank peters - "broken chain" • stevepb - "binding contract contract secure" • Ashish_Choudhary - "lock rain drop after rain" • Gadini - "padlocks locks for bags padlocks for trip" • DasWortgewand - "ballot box choice bundestagswahl" • mipan - "Code mechanism" • naretev - "Open combination lock with blue dial"

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