It has been rare when a game changer in the EdTech world comes along that makes me go Flava Flav WOOOOOOOOWW. In recent memory, I have had that reaction when I first saw a glimpse of how Seesaw could change the way I engaged with my parents and students. The other WOOOOW came along when I saw EdPuzzle. I can show videos that can stop and students reflect on what they saw in real time? Amazing. I am sure you have some of those same moments in your teaching career.
Here is my next educational high. Are you ready? You sure? It is called Digital Breakouts.
The same game principles from the main Games page (Breakout EDU) apply to these games, but there is no physical component other than an Internet connected device (preferably a laptop/Chromebook/desktop computer.)
We encourage teachers to play alongside their students to model a growth mindset, resilience, and to show that teachers don’t always have all the answers.
The difficulty levels are out of 10 and are subjective. The levels do not correspond to grade level. Levels 1-4 are good for elementary, 4-6 for middle school, 6-8 for high school, and 8-10 for adults. All games are appropriately challenging for their level.
Here is the deal. The students click on a link. The link takes them to a Google site that an educator has created for the sole purpose of creating a shared learning experience. The google site has a Google Form that needs to be filled out. The form is set up so it can only be submitted when the correct answers are filled in. All the clues to the form are on the Google Site. They may be in the form of puzzles, links to youtube videos, links to jigsaw puzzles or anything you can imagine.
The students must find the clues and solve them or follow the links and figure out why the link was put there. Every part of the digital breakout goes back to the Google Form questions. Why am I watching a video about a clothes dryer? Oh George T. Sampson invented it and he is the answer to the Black History Month response Dry Me a River.
People this is what learning is all about. It is fun, engaging, difficult, requires teamwork, and is just plain good at making you think. Digital Breakouts will not be the end all and be all of your lessons but they will be a fine tool to put in every once in awhile to reinforce a lesson or give your students that teamwork activity they need to realize that every kid in the class can contribute something to the group.
Creating a Digital Breakout is not very difficult. You create a Google Site which has been revamped so that even a dummy like myself can use it. You then create a Google Form and you are ready to go. The Digital Breakout Website has tutorials on how to set up every step in the process; just click here. There is usually a story that goes along with the Breakout to hook the students in as well. The students love reading the story and then figuring out the Digital Breakout-based on that theme.
Like everything else in education, I am not the best at creating Digital Breakouts. What I am the best at is knowing who is the best at their niche in education. In this case, Brian Costello (@btcostello) is the greatest Digital Breakout man on the planet. He has created so many cool Breakouts. We used his Breakout on South American Culture and battled a school in Ohio to see who could figure it out first.
If you read this and teach in a classroom you need to run and figure out how to create and utilize these in class. It doesn’t matter if you teach Health, Science, Math, or Social Studies. They are perfect for any classroom from 2nd grade on up!