Inquiry Learning by Breaking Out of the Box (GUEST POST)


I want to introduce you to Kelly Kermode, Integrated Learning Strategist at Forest Hills Public Schools in the greater Grand Rapids area.  Kelly is an educator who has been in a number of roles for the past 16 years and is a Google Certified InnovatorAdobe Education Leader and MACUL Special Interest Group leader… along with about 15 other things. She is always looking for innovative ways to engage students in their learning to reach higher outcomes.

In late November, I visited Kelly in her native environment-that is, at a school and as usual, up to her elbows in making school more awesome for kids. On this day, she was deploying a very cool inquiry based learning adventure called Breakout EDU.

BreakoutEDU started as an idea pitched by James Sanders at the Illinois Future Ready Schools summit in 2015.  James is currently the Chief Innovation Officer, EdTechTeam.

At the keynote, James shared his idea about what are called “breakout rooms” and gave background about how they all came about. He went on to explain that there are these escape rooms around the world where you pay to get “locked in” a room with friends and try to escape by solving puzzles and unlocking codes. There was even an episode of Big bang Theory around this game.

James was with some high school students in Edmonton, Canada playing one of these escape room games and he was amazed at how engaged and hard these students were working to solve the puzzle during this game. James wanted to turn this incredible learning experience of problem solving and fun and into something that can be used in the classroom.

Shortly after, James launched the BreakoutEDU website which includes links to pre-created learning adventures and turn-key kits so you can run your own BreakoutEDU game.

How breakouts are being used

Breakouts are being used to teach core academic subjects including math, science, history, and language arts. Each adventure has embedded standards that apply problem solving strategies within a real world OR collaborative context.

A feature of BreakoutEDU is that the quest to solve the mysteries is very much rooted in inquiry based learning where learning or solving a particular problem revolves solving a central question.

The framework of the learning game ensures that Involvement that leads to understanding, and that players are Converting information and data into useful knowledge.  The learning is centered around the process of figuring the problem out, all in a student centered, collaborative manner.

As you watch the game unfold, you will see the learners collaborate, question, investigate, and observe each other’s thinking.

For more information on how you too can make the magic happen in your classroom, check out these resources:

BreakoutEDU Webpage –
BreakoutEDU Facebook Group
BreakoutEDU Overview 
BreakoutEDU Interview

Ron Houtman – @ronhoutman