Earlier this week I was at the annual ITEC conference in Des Moines and had the opportunity to try out one of the Breakout Edu Challenges. (http://www.breakoutedu.com/) If you have not heard about Breakout Edu, head to their site to check it out. It is basically a classroom version of the breakout room challenges that are gaining popularity. Your goal is to open the main box but you have to solve clues and work as a team in order to get the combination to unlock the box. This was not my first time attempting a Breakout Edu challenge but it was definitely one that got some ideas going in my head.
The great part about this is that I got to work with 11 other educators, most of whom were strangers to me, and we all had the same goal. I won’t go into any detail about what challenge we had but there was a good opportunity that as a classroom teacher, you could have the content be a big part of the solution. We struggled a lot but we kept at it and if it wasn’t for the team aspect, we would have failed. While one person may have had an idea, they might have given up on it if it wasn’t for another person on the team. We were only really successful because one person continued a train of thought that another person had started but gave up on. I will add that we were the fastest team on Day 1.
Breakout Edu has a lot of potential in both professional development and in the classroom as an engaging learning activity. As my main role is in helping to provide PD and work with teachers, I was constantly thinking about how we could use this with our teachers to work on learning and working together as a team. I can easily see this as an experience we can use to work with our teachers on becoming a better team. We are focusing on our PLC teams this year and there is still a good amount of work to be done. As with any school, you have to make sure everyone is working together and knows how to work together. We can’t just assume that because we have a group of educators that they will know how to work as a team. (Which brings up one of my favorite sayings – We can’t expect it if we don’t teach it.)
I highly suggest you go to http://www.breakoutedu.com/ and find out more about Breakout Edu. You can buy their kits for around $100, which look awesome, or you can get the instructions to build your own. You can even design your own challenges and turn them in to the community.