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!