Digital Breakouts

Escape Rooms have been all the rage as of late. Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned about and used breakouts in my classroom to engage students and as a tool in assessment for and assessment as learning. Essentially, it’s a Google Slides presentation or a Google Site where there are links to different elements of learning and a form where students or colleagues can enter their responses.

Last week, I was fortunate to work with an amazing group of teachers during #TinkeringThursdays and we spent the time breaking out and considering applications for the classroom. I have to say that students tend to be a little more resilient in trying to solve problems but in this process, it was interesting to see teachers as learners and to consider what students might experience when presented with tasks that challenge them and push them to problem solve.

Breakouts with students

As mentioned before, I enjoy using Breakouts as assessment for and assessment as learning. For me, it allows me to see whether or not my students can apply some of their learning to solve puzzles collaboratively. A couple of weeks ago, I worked on a decimal breakout with my students as a means for assessment for learning. I wanted to understand what they already knew about decimals. Now I used this breakout before with students who were a little further along in their learning and it was great to see that my current group of students took the time to view the videos in order to learn or understand a concept in a deeper way, whereas my previous students were more able to apply their learning to solve the problems. Either way, there was the support needed to help guide them as they problem solved. When we work on breakouts, I usually have students work in groups of 2 or 3 so that they have the opportunity to collaborate and possibly look at a problem from a different perspective.

Breakouts with colleagues

Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to present sessions on Digital Breakouts to colleagues and it’s been so much fun. In each session, we start with a breakout and I’ve seen this as a great way to engage in learning in a fun way. This got me thinking about how we might be able to use breakouts to engage colleagues in new learning in staff meetings or PD sessions. Rather than having information delivered, could this be a tool where we – like our students – discover and learn on our own? I’m starting to think about more applications for breakouts with colleagues so stay tuned!

Next Steps

While writing this blog, I started to think about gamification in the classroom. How might it engage some learners and what might the implications be for students who truly enjoy learning in this way? It also had me thinking that it was great that students had an experience in learning though a breakout, but what’s next? How might we use student-created games to not only facilitate their own learning but collaborative learning in our classrooms? My next step is to get my students to start creating their own and getting them to consider how they develop their questions and how they determine what information might be helpful to others solving the problems in their games. Again, I’ll keep you posted. In the meanwhile, if you’re interested in trying the breakout that we used for #TinkeringThursdays, click on the image below. The last couple of slides have important information on creating your own.

Tinkering Thursdays - Digital Breakout - Slides

Also, please feel free to share how you are using games – like breakouts – in your classroom for student learning or learning with colleagues. I would love to hear from you!

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Updated: March 29, 2018 — 7:35 pm

The Author

Arianna Lambert

I'm a grade 4/5 Teacher in the Toronto District School Board who loves integrating technology and mindfulness in the classroom. Through inquiry and Entrepreneurial Thinking, I work with students who are engaged in meaningful learning opportunities while looking at ways to make the world an even better place. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of co-facilitating the STE(A)M Certificate Course for Junior Teachers in our board. For the last 2 years, I have been fortunate to co-moderate #tdsbEd, Twitter chats for educators in the TDSB. Through conversations on trends in Education from STEAM to Mindfulness, it has become an online community of educators dedicated to improving their practice to ensure greater student success, well-being and achievement.

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