The sound of my heels clicked in quick staccato as I flew down the hallway clutching my breakout box to my chest. The last few students wandered off to lunch, their voices echoing in the stairwell. I burst into the room and made eye contact with the teacher. We practically squealed. Then we set up the clues.
Today was my very first Breakout EDU game, a game that I had painstakingly created after scouring the games on the website.
The topic: Illinois
The purpose: Launch a unit of study
But more…so much more.
In essence students must solve a series of clues, to open the locks that are on the box. Their purpose is to open to box but ours is to help them learn to collaborate in teams and use some critical thinking skills. At least that’s what I thought the purpose was. I now know that there is even more to be gained from this process.
The students returned from lunch. We decided to do groups of 10, the other students in the class going to one of the other third grade teachers for read aloud.
I read the story and then I set them loose.
They scattered like a bag of marbles dropped on a wood floor. I hoped they would settle, read clues, dig in. That didn’t happen. I watched them ping back and forth from clue to clue looking for an immediate solve or answer. Things that I thought were obvious were glossed over. I was beginning to wonder if I’d made the game too hard. Fifteen minutes in they used their first clue card. Finally success!
They continued to struggle, wander, talk, get distracted, try.
When the timer was up they were working on the last two locks. They were sweating and exhausted. They had not opened the box.
As I sat to reflect I made a few adjustments. We discussed some clues that were needlessly hard. We discussed some that were hard but that we wanted to keep that way. We discussed their approach to the task, how they gave up quickly, how they bounced back and forth, how they looked at one thing but not the other.
I was reminded that third graders don’t have very good web navigation skills and that some things I took for granted needed to be addressed or taught.
I learned that most third graders don’t know how to open a lock.
I saw how we desperately need to work on perseverance, tenacity, critical thinking, team work, troubleshooting, and so much more.
I watched as one little girl looked around completely lost and wondered how I might support students with diverse needs in this process.
I reflected on my own process as I built the game, looking at content in a completely new way.
Breakout EDU illuminated so much about how our students approach complex problems and I could see how this approach hinders or helps their work in all subjects.
Mostly, I can’t wait to do it again!