Breakout EDU Platform Updates

Breakout EDU Platform Updates

After launching the Breakout EDU Platform just a few weeks ago, we have been hard at work on making it even better. While a lot of that work is going on “behind the screens” to increase speed, cross-browser compatibility, etc., we wanted to share with you some of the changes from the past week or so:


Digital Game Locks gain a new Lock Setup / Story Element

When creating a Digital Game you may notice that we added an optional text box to each of the Digital Game puzzles. Now, in addition to the clue (text, image, or video) that you provide, you can include text to set up the clue.

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Resources for Creation

Playing games with Breakout EDU is a ton of fun. Building games is also a fun challenge. We updated the BreakoutEDU.com/create site with some helpful resources. The first is a printable PDF template that you can use when planning a digital game. The second is a submission for users who are creating Digital Games to share them. We look forward to showcasing some free user-generated games.


Tap or Type

For letter or number puzzles, you can type in your answers in addition to the tap option.


ShowYourWork

In the spirit of Austin Kleon’s “Show your work” mantra, we wanted to share with you the brief tale of a feature that we quickly built and launched based on user feedback, but ultimately decided to remove based on - you guessed it, more user feedback. When playing a Breakout EDU Digital Game some users had become upset that their students had refreshed the screen and reset the game. We developed a feature that would produce a pop-up warning whenever a user was in a digital game and neared the edge of the browser. But this pop-up wound up confusing many more folks. We made the decision to remove it. Long story short - we learn from all the feedback we get from our users and make the best efforts to make the site better each and every day. We appreciate your patience as we improve it even further.


Coming Soon

Here’s a sneak peek of a feature that we hope to launch in the next few weeks. We are building the ability to drag and re-order your locks while editing Digital Games.


Bug Reporting / Feature Requests

We take every email to heart and every suggestion seriously. If you are having a problem on the site or have an idea that you want us to consider, please feel free to report it by filling out this form. Bug reports can be submitted at https://www.breakoutedu.com/bug - Feature suggestions can be sent to info@breakoutedu.com

Introducing the Breakout EDU Platform

We’re excited to share with you some details on the new Breakout EDU Platform.

We wanted to take a moment and explain the new Breakout EDU platform and how you can access all the great free resources available.

The new site allows teachers to have accounts rather than having to enter the generic password every time they access a game. All of the 300+ games that were previously available are now available for free on the new platform. This includes great games from the Breakout EDU Team like Time Warp, The Dot, Totally Radical 80s Time Travel Adventure, and Dr. Johnson. You can sign up for your account here. 

In each Subject Pack folder you’ll find a collection of games labeled “user generated”. That is where we’ll be housing all those games. We’ve also added the tag “free” to those games.  We will continue to add games to these collections regularly.

User Generated Games.png

In addition to the hundreds of free games and resources, we’re launching two new premium elements. On the platform you will find 100+ new “Subject Packs” that contain games for specific content areas and a tool for building custom digital games.

Subject Packs

Our team is currently working hard to build games for as many subject areas and lesson topics as possible. Here’s a list of our first collections. If you don’t see the game you’re looking for, you can request new game topics.

The NEW Breakout EDU Digital

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The new tool is fantastic and you’re able to design custom games and track students progress. Here is an in-depth tutorial on how to use the new digital tool.

We’ve created a few examples so you can see how much fun your students will have with the the new Breakout EDU Digital. You can play a sample Halloween game we created for elementary students here.

The Updated Kit

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In additional to all the standard Breakout EDU kit items. We now include in the kit the new color, shape, and number rings for your Multilocks and the red lens viewer.

Pricing


Each Breakout EDU kit now includes 12 months of access to the platform. You’ll have the ability to renew your access for a discounted price. Additionally, users are able to purchase access separately without a kit. Here is the full pricing chart.

You can purchase the updated Breakout EDU kit or platform access here.

Already have a kit?


If you’ve ordered a kit previously with Breakout EDU shoot us an email with your order information and we can provide you with information on how to upgrade your account.

For more information on getting started with Breakout EDU please visit BreakoutEDU.com/welcome

Please reach out to us at info@BreakoutEDU.com if you have any additional questions.

 

Community Spotlight: Jeff Hennigar

My name is Jeff Hennigar and I'm a grade 4/5 teacher in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. 

How did you first learn about Breakout EDU? 

It was about two and a half years ago and I had just discovered Twitter for personalized professional learning. I was looking for info about gamification when I saw a tweet about @breakoutEDU. I dug deeper to learn more, and that one tweet lead me down the rabbit hole.

What suggestions do you have for a teacher first getting started with Breakout EDU? 

Some students might not be engaged the first time they play. Some might even get frustrated enough with the clues or their classmates that they remove themselves. Don’t let this be a reason to not play another one, let it be the reason you do!  Allow opportunities for reflection, and try it again!


What is your favorite Breakout EDU game? Why? 

I mostly play games that I've created myself, but I loved Patti Harju “Oh the Places You'll Go.” It has a great mix of clues, hands-on elements, and puzzles with varied difficulties to meet the needs of many learners. 

Describe a favorite moment during a Breakout EDU game? 

In one of the first games I played I remember overhearing a student have an epiphany moment where the clue suddenly made sense to him and he knew exactly what to do. He looked up at me and I smiled at him from a distance (with pride in my eyes, I’m sure) and he said, “I'm right, give me the lock! He's smiling, it's got to be right!” I've worked on my poker face since then.

How has Breakout EDU helped your students learn about the the importance of grit and progressing through failure?

It sounds harsh, but I remind my students during reflection that I want them to struggle when we play. I give them chances in class to get better at reading and writing, and Breakouts are a chance to get better at persevering through challenges. Breakouts give us a chance to build a collaborative environment in the classroom and to see and understand how individual’s strengths can be utilized for the success of the team.

How do you plan on using Breakout EDU in your classroom next year?

For the second year in a row I'm going to start my first day of the year with a Breakout EDU game! I'm moving schools, so my game story is that the principals are playing a joke on me since I'm new to the school and they've locked up my lesson plan for the day! This allows me to play the first Breakout EDU game of the year with them without a timer, and I can play like it's new to me as well so I can help with locks, guide thinking, and encourage students that are taking a passive role.  

Describe a moment when things didn’t go as planned in a Breakout EDU game? How did you adapt in that situation? 

One time I was running a game at a PD session and a group of teachers was very frustrated with the 3-digit lock--their last lock on the Breakout EDU box. They had tried everything they could think of. I watched from nearby as they tried the correct combination yet again and it didn’t work. I asked to see the lock and confirmed that it wasn’t opening properly. I shouted, “you broke out!” and stopped the timer. They were annoyed at first, but we joked that this would be an opportunity to show students how teachers make mistakes too. 

How did you justify adding the Breakout EDU tool into your existing curriculum requirements? 

It would be harder to justify not using it! Breakout EDU games are one of many item in my toolkit for creating engaging and memorable experiences in my classroom. I’ve never heard a student bragging in the hall about how their class did a worksheet, but I’ve heard it many times when students talk about Breakout EDU games! 
 

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: MARGO BRIDGES

My name is Margo Bridges and I teach STEM with a focus on coding and design at Norton Middle School in Norton, Massachusetts. 

How did you first learn about Breakout EDU? 

I found Breakout EDU through social media.  The Breakout EDU community is a phenomenal resource. 

What suggestions do you have for a teacher first getting started with Breakout EDU? 

Don’t worry if students don’t break out.  It’s not about beating the game; it’s about developing teamwork and problem solving skills.  Be sure to debrief after the game.


As the world changes, how do you see tools like Breakout EDU preparing students to solve problems in the future? 


Often there is more than one way to solve a problem.  Breakout EDU allows students to figure it out for themselves and not simply follow steps provided by the teacher.  

Describe a favorite moment during a Breakout EDU game? 

Oh, there are so many!!  My favorites probably happen during the self-reflection and discussion that takes place after the Breakout EDU game.  Students recognize their successes but also talk honestly about how and why they would do things differently next time. They then ask when they can do another Breakout EDU game!

How has Breakout EDU helped your students learn about the the importance of grit and progressing through failure?

Sometimes students give up easily and ask for help as soon as they get stuck.  Breakout EDU forces them rely upon themselves and each other, not the teacher.  Their success is very empowering! 

How do you plan on using Breakout EDU in your classroom next year?

I’m hoping to have students create their own Breakout EDU games.

Describe a moment when things didn’t go as planned in a Breakout EDU game? How did you adapt in that situation? 

Watching students struggle is tough and at times it’s hard not  jump in and help!  Most of the time, they abandon unfruitful efforts and move on to a new strategy.  During one breakout, all the groups were struggling and weren’t moving on.  I finally suggested that everyone stop wandering aimlessly around the room looking for clues and focus on SOLVING the clues they already had.  It took me saying it THREE times before they took the advice.  Eventually, all groups were back on track!  

 

NEW TO BREAKOUT EDU? GET STARTED HERE!

Community Tips: How often do you play a Breakout EDU game?

A Breakout EDU game is a perfect way to augment any unit of study and provide learners with a unique way to work collaboratively with their peers to solve academic puzzles. Breakout EDU is powerful learning tool that is most effective when in the hands of an empowered educator that uses it strategically to create one-of-a-kind learning scenario. We asked our community how often they use Breakout EDU in their classroom.  

Bridgette Farrell-Kuzma: With third graders last year, I averaged about one a month. I did many holiday-themed ones. The timing also depended on when I had time to set them up. This year, I hope to do more connected to curriculum. The timing of one every few weeks always let anticipation build for when the next Breakout would be.

Jennifer Zimny: I feel once a quarter is plenty for high school, providing I can find or create a good quality game that coordinates well with what is happening in the classroom. It has to hold purpose. You don't want to breakout too often or it will lose it's wow factor!

Amy Brownlee: I also averaged once a month with my fifth grade math classes. We also spent time creating games and clues too in addition to the games. My students often completed digital games in their spare time! I think at the end of every unit is a great idea, too.

Irene Mager Konyar: Tried to run one once a month for k-5 classes, which means I assemble/run 3-4 different games. The students, teachers, and I love the games.

Jodi Miller Foreman: I teach three units per year in a gifted and talented pull out program. I held one big Breakout EDU game for each unit. I also did 3 other Breakout EDU games as motivators, rewards, "fun" events. I occasionally would put out one lock (on the iPad charger station, the supply cabinet, the light switch) as a mental challenge. Much more often and the "specialness" and high interest aspect of breakouts are lost. Not to mention- setting them up is a time consumer for the teacher. I kind of judged timing based on when the students started asking for another one.

Alison Skertic: I teach high school English on a trimester schedule -- I'm planning on doing 1 each 6 weeks -- some as review and some as critical thinking/team building activities.

Traci Manieri Vedros: I am a 7th/8th ELA teacher - we did one at the end of each novel (About 5 total for the year) - and a few digitals - usually for the holidays or during testing. In addition, my students designed one breakout for another class - and created digital breakouts.

Amy Woods Marcum: Once a quarter for 6th grade

Robin Elizabeth Zaruba: 3-4 times a semester.

Jenny Baker: I'm library/computer. We do them about once a month- beg of school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, 100th day, St Patrick's day, end of year. I have to teach other skills. Last year was year 1, this year I'm hoping to do more w/in content. I made several for our 3rd grade team, want to do more.

Jill Clark: Once a quarter. Too often takes the specialness of it. It is something that they look forward to (me too!)

Lisa Brock Lougheed: I teach 5 grade levels so it varied….   beginning of year, Christmas, end of year. Will do more curriculum related ones this year. Hopefully at least one a quarter.

Jeff Hennigrant: I teach 5th grade and we play a breakout every 5-6 weeks. Often enough that students remember what worked and what didn't from the previous game, but spread out enough that it's still a special event when we play!

Jason Jacobs: I perform one with every topic. 16 topics = 16 games. I go heavy around holidays and the end of the year. I build them up and get students excited about each one. We turn them into movies and use special effects to set the theme. 

Jan Smith: I seemed to have a lot more energy earlier in the year for planning and running breakouts (gr. 6 & 7 all subjects) and averaged one every month until March. Students created digital breakouts which took about three weeks, and designed & ran a classic breakout for their gr 3 buddy class (took about 2 weeks to research & design). Even though we didn't do any in the last 2 months of school, students still remembered breakout as a highlight of their year in their final reflections.

Debra Smith: I teach gifted accelerated math grades 4-6 and working with primary (2-3). I use it at the end of each unit of study, usually. Sometimes I add one for a holiday theme to break things up as a surprise. Set up is a lot as I teach several grade levels so one set up is only good for one class. On average, about 7-8 a year per class. At the end of the year, a class project entails student design of their own breakout.

Jessica Miles: Last year we did about once a trimester for certain classes. I think every other month would be perfect. A combination of being fun and exciting but not so frequently that it loses its cool factor. 

Denise Reed Krebs: Once each quarter, related to something we are doing, beginning of the year welcome, global read aloud, parts of speech unit, whatever. I teach English language learners in grade 5.

Staci Jones Fagal: I did one maybe every other month, but the last 6 weeks of school we did a student created breakout as a review project (5th & 6th). Kids made clues and planned/setup everything. They had to turn in the list of combinations at least a day ahead so I could set the locks for them. I felt like they learned even more from creating their own games, and seeing the mistakes and ideas of their classmates. Plus they really had to review their material, world history, to make the "perfect" clue.

NEW TO BREAKOUT EDU? GET STARTED HERE! 
 

Community Spotlight: Karen Finklestein

I’m Karen Finklestein from Pembroke Pines, Florida and I teach Reading and Coding at The City of Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School. 

How did you first learn about Breakout EDU? 

At FETC 2016 from Adam Bellow. He had a kit to give away and after he explained about Breakout I wanted that kit! 

How has Breakout EDU impacted your classroom? 

It puts everyone on an even playing field. I have seen some of my lower performing students shine as leaders during Breakouts because it’s a different way of showing what they can do. 

What suggestions do you have for a teacher first getting started with Breakout EDU? 

Just do it! Whether it works well or not it will be a great learning experience for you and your students. Actually running a game gives you a great feeling for how the games work and then you can adjust your strategies after that. 

As the world changes, how do you see tools like Breakout EDU preparing students to solve problems in the future? 

Life involves teamwork and so does Breakout, so it prepares students for working in a group and communicating well with others. 

How has Breakout EDU helped your students learn about the the importance of grit and progressing through failure?

They really want to open those locks and  even though they are frustrated when they do not have the right combination, they go back and work on it more - that doesn't happen with a worksheet!

How do you plan on using Breakout EDU in your classroom next year?

I am going to be sharing Breakout with our faculty this year so hopefully more students will get the opportunity to experience Breakout
 

COMMUNITY TIPS: FACILITATING YOUR FIRST GAME

Diving into your first Breakout EDU game can seem like a daunting task. However, once you get started, you realize how powerful Breakout EDU can be in your classroom. To help you get started we've gathered tips from fellow Breakout EDU community members of facilitaing your first game.  

  • Jo-Ann Blinkey Fox: I always explain that a successful game relies on good communication. And good communication requires two things: 1. The ability to share your idea clearly and (the MOST important component) 2. The ability to listen to other's ideas.And afterwards I tell them we will reflect about their communication skills. Gives them something to think about
  • Rachel Livesey: I generally introduce the game to them prior to presenting them with a game. Depending on the group, we may complete a puzzle as a task… You can present students with 1-2 puzzles prior to setting them off into a group breakout. I think the key is getting them comfortable with inquiring and collaborating while building their own self efficacy.
  • Rita Hennessey: I emphasize the collaboration and communication aspects, and that respectful teamwork is more important than being the first to finish.
  • Sandi Berg: Don't include prizes in the box. Prizes end up being the end goal instead of group success.
  • Leah Herold: For our elementary kids we introduced by telling them they would be doing a game of problem solving. The 3 big concepts we were going to practice were teamwork, perseverance and problem solving. We also reminded them that they weren't competing against the other groups, but that they are competing against the clock…. 
  • Danielle Conlen Sabato: Set off limits areas. My high school kids got into EVERYTHING the first time because they thought it all was a clue.
  • Mattie Olsen: I teach 10th and 12th grade boys. I don't tell them much at all. I like to see them try to struggle through it and figure it out on their own. The very first time, I showed them this video I made and answered any general questions. I told them off limits areas or concepts (like don't disassemble a desk) and allowed them to ask general questions, but I refused to answer many of them saying, "you'll discover that." I showed them the locks…. 
  • Rebecca Root: For elementary, introduce all the locks and give them a chance to try them - reduces stress and accidental resets.
  • Dana Stenzel:  Teach them how to properly use locks before they get started. Let them each try to open them all knowing the combination.
  • Becky Brennecke Muller: For K-1, beginning with a guided Breakout EDU game with individual and group clues were successful as we introduced/reinforced concepts of cooperation and inquiry.
  • Lisa Suhr:  Plan for documenting your experience with photos and/or video. It is easy for the teacher/facilitator to get wrapped up in the enthusiasm and management and miss some great things to share later. If you have an extra adult, maybe make it their "job." Also: resist the urge to help too much! And one final one: I put the combinations, codes, etc on a small note paper and stick in my pocket so I can quickly check…. 
  • Dianna Ross Chamberlain:  Collect the locks as soon as they are opened! Students are fascinated by the locks and could unknowingly reset the combination…. One of the hardest parts for the facilitator is to keep your mouth shut during the game. It is important to let the struggle happen. Students aren't always used to struggling as much as they will during a BreakoutEDU game, but the pride they will feel when they succeed is a great payoff. Have a camera ready to capture their faces when they realize they have figured it out...without your help! Those moments are priceless.
  • Jessica Marie: I start with puzzles as warm ups for a few days and the first Breakout EDU game  we do isn't content related but more a breakout to help them experience what a breakout is and can be. Then as the year progresses we do content Breakout EDU games. 
  • Shai McGowan: I don't tell my 7-11th graders much at all. I read the story line, and tell them they have to figure out the clues. I do say that the clues can be high, low, this area, that area, etc, but don't tell them what the clues are.
  • Jason Jacobs: Build it up, don't do it the first day. Talk about hollow victories and taking pride into solving each Clue. No guessing-  it takes away from the fun. Stay positive and embrace the chaos. Don't give up. If you get stuck, move on and go back to it. Have fun! 
  • Jana Rogers: Smaller groups work better. Have teams divided by color.
  • Jennifer Zimny: Tell students they WILL get frustrated at points but not to give up. That way the expectation is set for them that this won't be easy all the way through and they are going to have to think!
  • Lisa Browne Joiner: I wrote on the board "Breakout in 30 days," and counted down. They had no idea what it was, but it built excitement. They did nothing to practice//prepare...just came in and there it was. It was brand new to both them and me. Somehow, we all survived...and did at least one breakout a month the rest of the year.
  • Dana Sides Pressnell: Demonstrate how to open the different locks - where to line up the numbers etc. 
  • Donna Wells: For elementary kiddos... smaller groups work much better. Also found it helpful to work through one puzzle "together" in steps so every group opened a lock. Then started the timer.
  • Chuck N Lisa Creamer: Reflection is key!
  • Ronda Gamble: Set boundaries for the kids. That will save them time and you from them getting into things that they don't need to get into. Explain how each of the locks work. Explain the importance of working together and dividing up the tasks…. Have a lock parking lot and explain to the students to leave the locks unlocked and placed immediately on the parking lot....
  • Alissa Schoblaski Johnson: Most of my students (high school) have never done an escape room before so it wasn't helpful to say, "it's an escape room for the classroom." It helped my students understand the end goal better to explain the general concept and show them a video of an escape room before I explained the rules of the Breakout EDU game. 
  • Jodi Miller Foreman: For my 1st and 2nd graders, I put out the locks with a simple code and told them it was "improving fine motor skills practice." They learned how the locks worked. Then one day, all the locks were in a box... they could focus on the puzzles and not the locks.

New to Breakout EDU? Get started here. 

NEW: Breakout EDU Groups

As the Facebook group grew larger and larger it became difficult to have more focused discussions. Each subject group will allow educators to collaborate on puzzles, game ideas, debrief activities, and facilitation tips specific to that area.

You can a join a group here:

We also created the Getting Started with Breakout EDU  group as a place you can direct people. Our hope is to reduce the number or repeat questions and topics.

Groups are created based on community interest. If you don’t see a group that you’re looking for, complete this form and we’ll create it once there is enough demand.

 

Five tips for facilitating your first game

1. Set the tone for the game: How you introduce the game to your players is important. Make sure the players know that the objective the game is to solve the puzzles in order to open the box. Point out that the objective is NOT to get into the box by any means necessary--this will cut down on players looking for shortcuts.  

2. Use a lock parking lot: A lock parking lot is a spot in the room where players place the locks once they solve that puzzle. This will eliminate accidental resetting of the locks.

3. Keep a poker face: Players will look to the facilitator for free hints and suggestions. When the players need your help they can use one of their two hint cards.

4. Leave time for a debrief: The debrief activities are sometimes even more valuable the the game itself. One option is to use the Breakout EDU Reflection Cards to facilitate the discussion.

5. Avoid prizes: The best games have a story that leaves the players satisfied by playing. Relying on physical prizes in the box can reduce engagement in future games.

5 Tips for Designing Your First Game

  1. Story! Story! Story! All great Breakout EDU games have a narrative. Why is there a locked box? Why do they need to open it?

  2. Avoid depending on prizes. All games should end with the conclusion of the story. It’s a slippery slope with prizes

  3. Puzzles that require critical thinking. As much as possible, avoid puzzles where the solution is a simple date or number hidden with text make your players think critically and require making connections between clues and puzzles.

  4. Variety of puzzle types: Great games feature a variety of puzzle types. Some may require translation or making connections prior learning, while others might require careful reading.

  5. Meaningful Reflection Activities. Breakout EDU games allow you to see your learners through a different lens. Have your players reflect on their experience, making observations on their teamwork and problem solving strategies. How would they attack the problem different in the future.

You can get started at BreakoutEDU.com/create

LOCKS App Update

On October 30th our iOS app, Locks, stopped working properly.

We are aware of the issue and are working with the web host to figure out how to fix the problem and get the app up and running again. 

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and as always, we appreciate your support and understanding.

 

 

Game Creator Bill of Rights

Game Creator Bill of Rights

Game Creator “Bill of Rights”

Adopted: August 15, 2016

It is exciting to see so many educators creating and sharing their games on the Breakout EDU platform. The games have brought countless hours of immersive learning experiences to children and educators around the world. We wanted to share this Breakout EDU Game Creator “Bill of Rights”. We value what you have created and wanted to share how we will help protect your work.

YOUR WORK IS YOURS

  1. If you choose to create and share on the Breakout EDU platform, you retain the rights to the content and control over the work.

  2. You can remove the game from the platform should you want it to no longer remain public.

OTHERS PROFITING FROM YOUR WORK

  1. Games are not allowed to be played during paid events without consent of the game maker and Breakout, Inc.

  2. Accessing another's Breakout EDU game and posting the contents of it on other platforms is not allowed.

  3. Posting Breakout EDU content (games, presentations, etc.) that was not directly created by you on another site for sale is prohibited.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

  1. If you remix another member’s game, feel free to submit the altered version to the Breakout EDU game library. Be sure to include the fact that this game is an adaptation. Be sure to cite the original game title and its creator.

If you discover any example where your, or another user’s, rights have been violated. Please contact info@BreakoutEDU and we will work to resolve the matter.

We look forward to seeing more games that you create and continuing to supporting classrooms that believe it is time for something different.

- Team Breakout EDU

Patti Harju Joins Breakout EDU Team!

Patti facilitating a Breakout EDU game with her students.

Patti facilitating a Breakout EDU game with her students.

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Patti Harju has joined the Breakout EDU team as our first Director of Games. Patti brings with her more than 30 years of education experience and helped pioneer the use of Breakout EDU in the classroom.

We met Patti through her leadership in the Breakout EDU Facebook community. She’s gone above and beyond in supporting teachers and helping to bring Breakout EDU games into their classrooms. Her games have inspired other teachers to take the leap and design games of their own.

Patti's students after finishing Time Warp. 

Patti's students after finishing Time Warp. 

Patti not only shares our vision for doing things differently, she has proven through her work at the St. Stephen School that fun and engaging can be synonymous with meaningful learning.

In March she organized both a school-wide Breakout EDU game as well as facilitate a game for the entire staff.


We can’t wait to see what Patti builds here at Breakout EDU!

Welcome to the team, Patti!


James

April 1 Breakout EDU Newsletter

Happy April from Breakout EDU!

We are over the moon with excitement for your support of Breakout EDU. Every day, thousands of students around the world are playing learning games and collaborating with their peers rather than sitting in rows, bubbling in worksheets. You are proving that learning and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

And now, we have some awesome announcements for you!

We Have A Bus

We are excited to share that the Breakout EDU Bus, a mobile escape room learning experience, will be hitting the road on May 1! The bus will be leaving Maine and making it’s way across the country to the ISTE conference in Denver by June 26. We will be stopping at schools and hosting educational nights at local escape rooms. Complete this form if you’re interested in learning more.

We Have an App

Tired of your directional lock jamming? There’s an app for that! We are excited to finally be able to tell you that we are building an app! We are building a “Locks” app that can be use to create a lock for your next game. The app will launch for iOS in early May. Be sure to check the community for more information in the coming weeks. 

We Have New Swag

We hear you loud and clear! It’s time for more swag. Starting today, there are two new items in the Breakout EDU store, an awesome t-shirt (in men and women's fit) and a hoodie.

Join the more than 4,000 educators that are part of our Breakout EDU Global Community. We love seeing how you are using Breakout EDU to create engaging learning experiences for your students.

It’s time for something different.

James

#BreakoutEDU Twitter Chat

On Tuesday January 26th the first #BreakoutEDU Twitter chat took place. Over 50 people from around the world took part in the chat, all with varying levels of BreakoutEDU experience. Here are some highlights from the inaugural chat. We look forward to our next chat on February 9th at 6pm PST. 

We look forward to the next chat on February 9th at 6pm PST. It will be the first chat of a four part series in which we discuss the different audineces for #BreakoutEDU. This first chat will focus on Elementary students. 


Want to help influence future chats, please complete our 1 question Google Form.

View the chat transcript here.

View resources shared during the chat here


February Newsletter

We continue to be blown away by the interest in Breakout EDU. At present, there are roughly 3,000  Breakout EDU kits in the wild, with thousands of students playing Breakout EDU games in their classes every day. Mark has been working hard to catch up on U.S. orders; our goal is to ship kits within 3-7 days of ordering.  Stay tuned!

Breakout EDU Homework

I’m excited to share that on February 7 we will be launching Breakout EDU Homework. Homework is rarely engaging, and it’s hard to come up with a new assignment every night (not to mention grade!). The goal of Breakout EDU Homework is to design engaging global homework assignments that can be assigned by teachers. We plan on creating the first few, then opening it up to community-designed challenges. New challenges will be posted every Monday. We envision this being something that’ll be fun for the whole family to complete together!

Growing the Team

We’ve been slowly growing the Breakout EDU team. A shout out to Patti Harju and Lynne Herr from the community who have joined the game team! Patti will be overseeing the review of games for the official directory and Lynne will be managing the community games. Our aim is to improve the ease of discovering new games in the directory and to simplify/standardize the setup and directions for playing the community games.

Tyler Pincus, our Breakout EDU Intern, will be managing a variety of special projects. Tyler is a freshman at The Minerva Project (an awesome “startup” university)and is focused on learning more about the role of technology in education and building startups.

Partnerships

We’ve joined forces with BirdBrain Education to begin designing games aligned to curricular areas and educational standards. The first games will be designed for the History of the Roman Empire. We plan on begin testing the games later this month. Email Tyler@BreakoutEDU.com if you are interested in being involved with the project.

School-Wide Breakouts

In March, Mark and I are headed to London to facilitate a school-wide Breakout EDU activity with 125 year seven students. Students will be divided into small groups and will have two hours to navigate a series of puzzles in order to open the mystery chest. The game is designed to teach students digital citizenship, foreign language, geography, and how to use their iPads in on-demand learning environments. Reach out to me (James@BreakoutEDU.com) if you are interested in setting up something similar for your school.

Multiple-Location Breakout Games

This weekend Mark and I decided to try something different when facilitating Time Warp. Check it out!

Meet the #BreakoutEDU Twitter Chat Moderators

BreakoutEDU Twitter Chat Logo

Nikole Blanchard posted a question to the over 2,000 facebook group members asking if anyone was interested in a twitter chat for breakout edu. In no time this question was answered by several people. Over the next few days the support continued to grow and people started volunteering to help lead this group. As we prepare for this inaugural event on Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 we thought it would be good to get to know our three moderators who will be helping lead this chat. 



Hi I’m Ariana Flewelling but you can call me EdTechAri or Ari for short. I am a Staff Development Specialist for the Innovation and Learner Engagement division at Riverside Unified School District (RUSD). In short, I’m a educational technology implementation coach/TOSA for K-12 teachers. I've been using BreakoutEDU since May of 2014 and am excited to participate in the community in a new way.

Prior to working in RUSD, I was a Teacher on Assignment within the Colton Joint Unified School District (CJUSD), as the Secondary Technology Coach. When I  was in the classroom I taught high school English and helped write CJUSD’s 9th grade CCSS transition plan.


I am also a level two Google Educator, Google Educator Trainer, and future Google Innovator #MTV16. In addition, I’ve earned the Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University. Outside of work, I am an active member of CUE, current Inland Area Affiliate President, and ISTE. In my free time I like to play Mass Effect on my Xbox and connect with others via Twitter.


Hi, I’m Nikole Blanchard a Technology Director at a one-to-one private PK-12 school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My school is the only school in Louisiana that has been recognized five consecutive times as an Apple Distinguished School. The program is unique because it is one-to-one technology 1st grade-12th grade. Prior to this role, I taught elementary grades for 8 years. 

Being rather new to Breakout Edu, I wanted to learn more so I turned to social media. After posting a question on Facebook it eventually led to the creation of this Twitter chat! I’m extremely passionate about connecting with other educators and look forward to learning together!

I’m Nationally Board Certified, an Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Educator, Level 2. I also have my Masters in Educational Technology from Louisiana State University.  

Outside of work, I stay busy with two little ones! I also travel at least three times a month to New Orleans - an hour away from Baton Rouge - to visit family. Yes, I am a YAT!


I’m Travis Lape a Technology Integrationist with the Harrisburg Schools District. I work with staff to integrate technology into their classrooms.  I also helped transform our media center to create new learning environments. One of the biggest changes for our space was our makerspace. This space is an area where our students are able to tinker, innovate, and create projects that they are passionate about.  Along with this I am constantly working with teachers to transform their own spaces to help all our learners.

Prior to working in Harrisburg, I was a 4th grade teacher with the Sioux Falls School District. 

Outside of work, I am enjoy going to the lake with my family, and playing golf. We recently adopted a 8 month old little boy named DJ. He has blessed our family in so many ways.


We look forward to exploring BreakoutEDU with you and thank you for joining us on this journey.


100 Box Project (Guest Post)

By Ryan Knight, The Bowman School

Have you ever had a project where you set out to give back, but along the way you end up receiving your own special gifts?  That just recently happened to me, with a project combining the Bowman School wood-shop and Breakout EDU.  

During the summer, I went to the #gafesummit in Palo Alto, CA.  I participated in one of their Breakout sessions, and I was hooked.  At the end of the session, I spoke with James Sanders and Mark Hammons about the possibility of my students building some of the breakout boxes for Breakout EDU.  It was just an off the cuff statement, and I had not put a lot of forethought into the idea.  Mark said to contact him, and we could work something out.  I sent  James and Mark a follow-up email, and the plan to build 100 boxes was born.

I proposed the idea to two of my elder (8th grader) wood-shop students, and off we went (naively) to build 100 boxes.  We made some estimations and bought our first load of lumber.   When we got back to school, I receive the first gift from this project.

The first gift was in the form of a student who normally does not engage in any activity who ended up taking the lead on this project.  “Freeman” is the type of student who likes to linger on the edge and not really get involved, put himself out there, or take any risks.  However, when we got back to school, he leads a group of students to unload the wood, and he helped direct where to stack it.  After we finished, I spoke one-on-one with Freeman and told him it was clear he was going to be the lead on this project.  I expected him to give me some reasons why he couldn’t do it, but I got a big”OK” instead.  It just proves that if you give your students real projects and real responsibilities, they will rise up to the challenge.

Next, we planned out our cut lines and set ourselves up to make a prototype box.  I was working with three students and we discovered that it was very important to make sure we were all working with the same units of measurement.  One of the students was using a metric tape measure …… oops.  This lead to a fantastic teachable moment about checking scale, units, and verifying your measurements, aka “measure twice, cut once.”  In all my years teaching shop, this experience helped demonstrate the concept better than anything I had tried in the past. We fixed the unit issue, made adjustments, and got our first few boxes completed.  

Later that afternoon, we had a follow-up discussion (the real Socratic method) on the quality of the boxes, developing a critical eye, and the best methods for construction.  We decided to do an assembly line approach and to open the project up to all ages that wanted to build a box.  Bowman is a K-8th grade school.  As we started the next phase of the project, I named the initial group of 3 students the Big 3.  We gave daily lessons on working with tools and proper box construction.  A few days into this phase of the project, I received another gift.  

One of the Big 3, “Madden," had one of the worst days ever while trying to assemble some of the boxes.  He ended up splitting five sides for the boxes and put the hinges on the wrong end of the only box he completed.  He wanted to quit the project, but I would not let him.  We had a conversation about his struggles and I told him I wanted him to push through and figure out a way to contribute to  this project. Madden decided he could contribute as a safety officer, watching to make sure people are working safely, and help build with the younger students.  Madden not only became an excellent safety officer he also became a requested helper with our youngest contributors.  Because of Madden’s experiences accidentally destroying some of the boxes, he was able to have real empathy for the students who were struggling with the construction. When something broke or did not go as planned Madden let them know it happens to all of us.

These are just two quick examples of the gifts we received from this project.

Where have things gone since we finished the 100 box project?  I now have a list of students signed up to build their own boxes with customized transfer images. Some of the older students have made their own boxes and added security systems with buzzers, and key switches.  A group of younger students brag that they have made real things (the boxes we shipped) and are taking orders for other projects to build. Other students  have started to make their own versions of the breakout game too.

I would like to extend a deeply heartfelt THANK YOU to Breakout Edu for taking a chance on us.  James and Mark have been so generous sharing their ideas, expertise, and techniques.  They made it easy to transfer the information to the students.

I am also happy to share more details about building the boxes, what worked and what did not,  and other gifts this project gave to us.

I can be reached at ryan@bowmanschool.org

If you receive one of the boxes that we built, we would love to hear where it ended up.  You will know it was made by us because it will have  ”Built by the Bowman School” on the bottom.  





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

BY RON HOUTMAN

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 – http://www.breakoutedu.com/
BreakoutEDU Facebook Group
BreakoutEDU Overview 
BreakoutEDU Interview

Ron Houtman – @ronhoutman

(GUEST POST) Explain Everything: BreakoutEDU

REPOST FROM Constructivisttoolkit.com

by Reshan Richards, Co-Founder Explain Everything

I was at the #TiES15 conference in Minneapolis, MN for the past couple of days learning and sharing with a really terrific group of educators from the region. I had written previously here about ordering a BreakoutEDU kit (which is currently on backorder due to high demand). They do provide the resources and information for a DIY kit, but I like the nice lock box they provide so I will happily wait.

On the conference schedule I saw that there were sessions about BreakoutEDU running during each block and I managed to get into one of the sessions which were all capped at 15 people.

It turns out one of the creators of BreakoutEDU was in fact facilitating the sessions which was pretty cool.

You can learn more about BreakoutEDU from their website, but essentially it is a toolkit for designing a blended physical and virtual space puzzle while weaving in content-related themes into the tasks needed to "break out.." It follows the popularity of Escape the Roomevents.

I had a hunch that Explain Everything would be a good complimentary tool for BreakoutEDU, but once we actually jumped into the game my hunch was totally validated. I found that being able to take pictures of puzzles, sketch out notes and ideas, look things up on the internet, and try to connect clues and identify patterns were all things needed to succeed in the game. Of course team work and communication were also vital parts when trying to make sense of puzzling artifacts. Below is a screenshot of my scratch space I used while trying to help our group solve the puzzle (which we did in 28:43!).

I think other people will still be doing this exact game today at the conference so I don't want to post any spoilers. But once a game is complete, there is an opportunity to record and reflect on the processes and to orally untangle the clues that were documented and added to the stage.