My new adventure for this fall is trying the Breakout trend. Educational Breakouts have been popular for a few years, so I'm a little late to the game. Over the summer one of my very favorite English teachers decided they wanted to try something new to change up their teaching routine, and since Breakouts were filling my Pinterest feed, we collaborated on designing a Breakout for her classroom. After digging into the whole process with her, I decided I was grooving on the concept, and planned my own Breakout for my library orientation activity.
The results? Breakouts are awesome. This is the MOST engaged I've ever seen my students. I've had MANY of them tell me how much fun they had and ask if we could do it in other classes.
|Above: I LOVE watching the "ah-ha!" moments when they finally get it.|
|Above: Team celebrations were pretty common when kids cracked clues.|
1) To save money, build your own Breakout kits. I was able to put together 4 complete Breakout kits using Amazon and the Dollar Tree. For each kit I bought 1 letter lock, a 4 pack of combination locks, 1 keyed padlock, 1 hasp, 4 lockable toolboxes, and a blacklight. I also bought 1 pack of UV Pens. Altogether, 4 complete kits cost about $180.00
- MasterLock 4 Letter Word Lock - $7.96
- 4 pack of combination locks (One 4 digit lock and three 3 digit locks) - $9.99
- 4 pack of keyed padlocks - $15.99
- Lockable tool box - $1 (These gems are from the Dollar Store, NOT Amazon, and they are the BEST DEAL ever for Breakouts)
- Hasp - $6.63
- Blacklight - $9.94
- UV Pens - $6.25
2) Develop a system for organizing your locks. I have around 30 different locks between all my kits, and I realized early on that I needed a way to keep them all straight. This required two things: 1) Labeling each lock (I started by writing on them with a Sharpie -- it rubbed off, so I switched to Sharpie on masking tape - still not ideal - I'm hoping I can talk the tech department into using their engraver) and 2) Keeping a record of the combo I had assigned to each lock.
|Above: Labeling each lock is essential when you have multiple kits. This is my current method, Sharpie marker on masking tape, but I think I'll see if the Tech dept will engrave them for me.|
|Above: After labeling each lock, I made a little chart. Each time I changed the combo, I recorded on the chart. I also taped the directions for resetting each lock into the folder.|
4) When working with bigger groups, have students elect a reader and a wrangler. In smaller groups (4 or less), this doesn't seem to matter as much, but in the large groups, teams need to identify a person that will be responsible for reading each clue out loud (so all members of the team can participate). I also found the larger groups needed to identify a leader (I called it a "wrangler"), responsible for making sure the group travels as a pack, encouraging quieter kids to share ideas, and in general, keeping all team members on task.
5) Color code the clues and assign each team a color. Because I ran 4 games simultaneously, I wanted to make sure teams didn't take another group's clue. To do this, I broke the kids up into teams, and assigned each team a color. They sat began the activity at tables with large colored signs that indicated their color.
|Above: Each box was tagged with team colors. I also wrote the location of each box on the back of the tag, so I could quickly replace the boxes between periods.|
|Above: Each team started the Breakout at a table with a sign indicating their team color.|
|Above: All the clues were color-coded -- teams could only use clues that matched their color.|
6) Do everything possible to make re-staging quick and efficient. I have 3 minutes between periods to re-stage the Breakouts, which means loading clues into boxes and locking boxes back up. I also structured my Breakout so that although I had 4 games running simultaneously, each group encountered clues in a different order. To make my life easier, I created a folder for each clue location. So, for example, each group got an envelope with their first clue. On the front of my folder was a little color-coded chart telling me which clue went in each group's envelope. If the clue location required a code, I also wrote that on my folder. Inside my folder were extra copies of each clue - enough to get me through a whole day.
|Above: Following the Breakout, each student independently completed a survey.|