Well, friends, my first digital BreakoutEDU is in the books! We freed Congress! In case you missed my initial post, here’s my background story:
After new members have taken office, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and Vice President Mike Pence (the president of the Senate) are attempting to call their respective houses into session …
When no one shows up, Speaker Ryan and Vice President Pence become concerned that something has happened to the Senators and Representatives. As an assistant to the Speaker, you have been given the task of locating ALL OF THE missing SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES. As you search the halls of the Capitol building, you hear muffled conversations behind a closed door.
As you investigate further, you notice that there are 5 locks on the door and a sign that reads “no taxation without representation!” The missing Senators and Representatives are behind this door!!
Feeling the weight of history upon your shoulders, you know you cannot fail the founders of our federal system! Only YOU can unlock this door! You have 45 minutes. You must FREE CONGRESS!
This is the first BreakoutEDU that I’ve attempted with my students, and the first BreakoutEDU they’ve ever experienced! With that being said, I think it went pretty well!
Let me back up…
The first topic in my Government course for second semester is Congress … this is typically not an extremely exciting topic for my students. They don’t really care too terribly much about the law-making branch of our government. Why? Because they’ve never really learned about it. The focus of their experience with our American government is the president. They’re always baffled to learn exactly how much authority Congress actually has and that the president isn’t as all-powerful as they’ve always believed.
In order to jazz up our Congress unit and to attempt to get my students excited about learning after an extended Christmas break (always a challenge at all every level of education, I’m sure!).
I started the class period by asking the students if they had ever heard of a breakout or escape room. To my surprise, less than a handful in each class had heard of it, and maybe 2 students total truly knew the concept.
Next, I briefly introduced the basics of an escape room and then assured them (to their dismay, I might add!) that I would not be locking them in the classroom and hoping they “escape the classroom.” I told them we would be doing a “school-ified” version of an escape room.
Then, I read them the background story I shared earlier in this post. I gave them very little instruction other than they needed to figure out the clues that were hidden in the website in order to unlock the locks on the Google Form … and they had to do so in 45 minutes or less.
A few students panicked a tad at the lack of instruction … these are my students that need to know exactly what is happening throughout the duration of each class period.
I let them collaborate and work through the breakout for about 15 minutes before I interjected with some help. My help was limited to things like, “maybe Google the name of that file,” or “pay attention to the words that are capitalized,” and “I think that may be a hyper link … “
Then, with 15 minutes left, I presented each group with a hint card (a post-it with the word “hint” written on it) and told them they could use their hint card to receive substantial help from me on one of the locks.
Also, I offered 100 Bonus XP to the group that freed Congress first, 75 Bonus XP to the second, 50 to the third, and 25 to the fourth (I only had four groups). I am STILL dumbfounded at how XP and leveling up motivate my students! For more information about my experiences with gamification, click here.
The next time we “breakout,” I think my students will …
–>> be less panicked because they know what to expect
–>> be even more excited … because they know what to expect!
My students were working together to solve a problem using clues related to our content … that’s a win-win-win in my book!
Don’t forget to check out my BreakoutEDU resources page!
Share your BreakoutEDU experiences in the comments!