Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Digital Breakouts You Can Do

Have you wanted to encourage critical, 'out of the box' thinking, and independence, all while having fun doing an activity you do not need to prep for? I have the answer ➙ a digital breakout!

What's a DIGITAL BREAKOUT? Are you familiar with escape rooms? It's the same idea ... just digitally ... and the only time restraints are ones YOU impose. 

The beauty of these breakouts are students can work in groups or individually. You can have each group/team work on a specific "lock" and as a class, breakout. Or allow your students to select the breakout they'd like to work on. Then ... sit back & watch the critical thinking skills surface! 

Prep your kiddos for an adventure! Prep them to get their brains ready to "work out"! Remind them, that as a general rule, digital breakouts employ a "theme". Themes can definitely help students find clues or find ways to see how the the clues are connected. Some clues are noticeable, others are hidden in plain sight. [This is also a great time to layer in a discussion about how websites work. You might be surprised how many students know that clicking on words with an underline mean it will take them to another site ... yet, they are afraid to do it!]

***Warning*** This WILL be challenging to some and extremely exciting for others. I keep an eye peeled for students who begin to express extreme frustration. I never want students to get to a point where they want to quit. You have to set the stage for this activity with the idea we are going to challenge their brains. I also have them brainstorm some collaboration tools they might want to try as well as ways to work through frustration. Remember, for some of our students, school is not challenging. They do really well! So when they experience frustration and/or failure, they give up far more easily than the rest of the students who have to work harder.

I never stress the completion of a breakout. It would be ideal to breakout, but I value the process and the attempts and the desire to try FAR more than unlocking all the locks. Each time I've done one with students, I see the little "Aha!'s" and the natural turning and talking and the problem solving happen. And I couldn't be more thrilled! 

Some digital breakouts have a very specific purpose others are for fun while enhancing critical, 'out of the box' thinking, independence, and collaboration.

Here are some you should check out:
  • A math assessment called "Escape the Dungeon
    • Definitely for older students; but an highly creative way for students to demonstrate their understanding of area, perimeter, and more!
  • "A Camping Spree"- based on the book "A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee", by Chris Van Dusen (I've done this with 2nd graders ... a challenge, but we unlocked 3 of the 4 in under an hour. They worked hard & accomplished it!)
  • "The 50 States Digital Breakouts" - an entire website devoted to the curation of a breakout highlighting information for each state in the US! 
    • don't see your state? Don't worry ... more are in the works!
    • Author's note ➝ roughly 6th grade level - but I say, never be afraid to challenge your students. YOU know them best!
  • Any Skywalker vs. Darth Vader fans? How about a "Star Wars Breakout"? 
    • Could Chewbacca really help your students build critical thinking? Sure!!! Don't let the Supreme Leader defeat them!

Want even more??? I know of 2 sites 100% devoted to digital breakouts.
  • Breakout EDU ↠ this site is devoted to not only sharing out digital breakouts, but you can also purchase hands-on breakout kits; there are FREE digital breakouts, but some require a subscription.
  • Digital Breakouts by Tonya Coffey  Tonya is a Google Trainer who has built this website with numerous Digital Breakouts. Each breakout is its own Google Site. The tabs along the top organize breakouts by theme, but she also shares breakouts by others on her homepage.
Don't be afraid! This is THE PERFECT time to challenge your students to "fail forward" - make mistakes and try again - collaborate with peers.

And May is THE PERFECT time to try it out.

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