What is a Digital Breakout
Basically, you are giving students a series of digital locks (generally 4-6) and the students have to figure out the codes to open those locks. A digital lock opens when specific text or numbers are entered. The text could be a word, or it could be letters that represents colors, directions, or even shapes. For example, in a color lock, students could enter the letter R for red, B for blue, etc.
What subjects can use breakouts?
How do I start?
Once you have narrowed down your objectives, create your clues. Any web tool can be used for this, but I always start with Google Tools. You can check out this list for some fun ideas as well.
After you create your clues, you need to figure out how to present them. There is a usually a reason that students need to complete the breakout. Without that element you are just doing interactive stations. Maybe there was a zombie outbreak and the students are fighting the clock to find a cure. Or maybe they are locked in the school right before spring break and they are trying to get out so they can make their flight to Hawaii.
Next decide if you want to hide your clues. Some people make this part extremely straightforward. They will tell them exactly which puzzle goes to which lock, and they don't hide or disguise the links at all. Personally, I think that takes the fun out of it! What makes this experience unique is hunting for the clues!
Finally, build your breakout. Google sites is a popular platform on which to create the breakout, but you can also use Weebly, Genial.ly, Wix, or the Breakout EDU online version if you have a subscription.
What do Kids think? Any advice?
- Some kids REALLY don't want to think. There is some frustration associated with being challenged like this and not everyone likes that.
- Give hints. Develop a system for giving students hints- allow them 2 or 3 free hints and then penalize them (a little bit) somehow after that. You don't want to walk them through it but you don't want them to sit there stuck forever either.
- Create on of the clues so that it creates a new copy of a google doc/slides/sheet for each student. Have them submit this activity through classroom at the end of the class.
- All students start with a 100 daily grade, students lose 5 points for each hint they use (*note- this is a horrible idea with advanced kids who are unwilling to give up any points on their grade. You might give a couple free hints before charging them points)
- Make it an extra credit grade for students who escape
Implementing the Breakout
Have students work in teams. People's brains do not work the same way. For digital breakouts, partners or groups of 3 is best, depending on how difficult it is to find the clues. I do not recommend students working individually on these.
Give them an introduction. Explain how the locks work. Explain the idea of the breakout. Explain how hints work. Let them know how they will be graded. Tell them not to cheat.
Walk around as they are working to see what they are doing. This will help them stay on task and will help you know where they are and what they have done so far. That will help you give better hints as well.