I had been hearing about Breakout Education for some time and wondered how it would work in the middle school setting. I decided to just buy one and test it out with the students and some teachers and see their reactions.
As soon as it arrived, Kristie and I set up one of the games called "The Timekeeper: A Journey through Mesopotamia" and told the grade 7 Social Studies teachers about it. In B.C., the grade 7 Socials curriculum is all about ancient civilizations, starting with Mesopotamia so we felt it was a perfect pairing. The teachers were excited about testing out the Breakout Box and were planning to tackle it on their next prep however, they had to postpone. I left the Breakout Box all set up awaiting the teachers but the box proved to be too intriguing to students.
I have two grade 8 boys who have been with me for the third term for their p.e. block as they have both undergone surgery. They asked about the box and when I told them, they asked if they could try it. These boys came back and worked on the Breakout Box for almost 3 hours before they met with success and they were delighted when they finally broke in. They reset it and another set of students tried it, working through lunch to crack the codes.
What was fascinating for me was to listen to the conversations, hear the thinking that was going on, and the collaboration that happened.
These photos show the students at lunch working together. They kept going back and forth between sitting and standing which was interesting.
When the teachers had time to try the Breakout Box, it was interesting to hear and see the similarities differences between the teachers and the students. The first set of teachers broke in after 90 minutes and the second group met with success in 45 minutes. What became apparent from observing the different groups was how important it is to have different thinkers within the group.
I'm looking forward to incorporating the Breakout Box into classes next year and the possibilities are endless. I already have math and science teachers looking at how to use this. I'd love to try this in an English class doing literature circles with clues based on each of the novels read.
I would strongly suggest purchasing a Breakout Box. For more information, go here