Today was my first day back with students for the school year. I purposefully planned a fun day. I am a ‘different’ kind of teacher. I am definitely NOT your run of the mill, follow the textbook teacher. I want the kiddos to really get that message. We did art, a Breakout, and created TERRIBLE (on purpose) presentations and presented them.
At some point in the afternoon, one of the boys stated that he wanted to write a book. I thought this was great. I told him that I started playing with an app over the summer that created books. He thought that was interesting. Then, I showed him a short book I created on Book Creator.
The book isn’t particularly good. I was exploring the tool and thinking of ways to use it in our classroom. However, when I showed the boy that some of the possibilities: voice overs, inserting your own image and text his eyes nearly popped out of his head. He looked at me, mouth wide open, and said, “I want to do that!”
I got him hooked! I can’t wait to use this in the classroom. The students will have so much fun creating their own books. THIS is going to be an EPIC year!
Yes, you heard me correctly; I am a lazy teacher. Or so that’s how I feel. Being a 5th-grade self-inclusion teacher is hard. Now, I have nothing to compare this to, so I’m not saying that my job is harder than anyone else’s. I’m just saying that my job is hard. And I get lazy. I’m really hoping I’m not the only one.
So what do I mean by lazy? Well, there are days – more when it’s closer to a break – that I pull out the curriculum and do what’s next in the TE. I barely modify it, if at all. See, lazy. I hate this, but sometimes I’m tired and it takes a lot of energy to come up with engaging lessons for all areas of the day. I love Hyperdocs, Hypermaps, Breakouts, Ditch the Textbook philosophy, and all things engaging. But sometimes being an island in your own school/district is hard.
I want to BE the Rockstar my students think I am!
So, this is why I am vowing to come back from break with more gusto, enthusiasm, and most importantly, engaging lessons for the students. They deserve it! I’m finally going to start that 50 states lesson I thought up last summer, we are going to read The Mouse & the Motorcycle by Beverly Clearly and the unit will include Flipgrid discussions. Science Camp is also scheduled for later in the week. And Math. I just received my copy of Jo Boaler’s new book: Mindset Mathematics Grade 5. It’s the perfect time to revisit certain concepts that they are struggling with.
No more lazy teacher! My students deserve better. I am capable of better. I will do better!
When a first-grade teacher expressed interest in doing a Breakout, I was thrilled to help. As she had never seen one in action she asked if I could lead. Of course, I said yes!
We worked together to find a Breakout that would work for her and her class. We settled on ‘Number Ninjas’. It’s all about numbers to 100: great for first-trimester first-graders.
There was LOTS of excitement and enthusiasm during the game. The students worked well together after they got the hang of it.
In the end, all the groups broke out.
So, to all those naysayers who think that first grade is too young to do a Breakout, we proved you wrong. This will hopefully be the first of many Breakouts in this classroom. And this will hopefully inspire other early elementary grades to give it a try!
Yesterday, my class began creating a Coordinates Breakout. They figured out which locks to use and what the codes would be. Today, I tasked them with creating the clues and a story to accompany the Breakout.
We had a bit of trouble coming up with a story so I had them creating some of the clues to the locks. They were RockStars creating the clues! They really thought out how to make the clues meaningful, with a bit of depth. One clue deals with the compass rose. We are still debating if we should have different ones on one page or split them up onto different pages and have them placed around the room. I think we will have to run the game with another class to work out some of the kinks.
Another clue, or three, deals with coordinate planes – first quadrant. Each group took a different approach in creating the coordinateplane. One group created a visually pleasing one with gradient coloring and took the time to draw each line. Meanwhile, another group struggled to create one; they needed four or five. The struggling group asked if the gradient colored group would mind sharing so they could copy their coordinate plane. And of course, the group was kind enough to share!
Then, while in the middle of creating, a student came up to me with a back story for our game. We bounced ideas off of each other and made it better. Tomorrow, I think I am going to have the students work together to make the story even better.
So far, this experience has been challenging, yet rewarding. It is our plan to submit the game to the Breakout EDU website. I think before that happens, I will share it out to make sure it’s in tip-top shape!
This year I have done a few Breakouts with my class. To say that they love them would be an understatement. So this week when we started coordinates in math, the wheels in our brains started turning. Seriously, there are so many things a person can do!
As we were walking to lunch one student suggested that we do a Breakout based on coordinates. I thought this was a GREAT idea and told him that I would search to see if there were any already made. However, by the end of the 45-minute lunch break, I had decided that making our own would be more fun!
I have been wanting to create my own Breakout for over a year. I have had a few ideas. One was an entire Breakout based in Google Maps. Another was based on directions and graphing. Unfortunately, I could never really get clues and ideas that I felt were good enough. Today was a different story. With the help of 28 other brains, we began creating an exciting Breakout – if I do say so myself.
I posed the idea to the class and they went for it. We decided which locks and accessories to use, created codes, and clue outlines. They even designed a distractor that should be used. They had some great ideas! We’re not done yet, but we will definitely share when we are done. I will have them create the clues and the story. I’m pretty excited for what they will come up with.
They know that I introduced this concept – BreakoutEDU – to the staff last week. They want to run their Breakout with the staff. I don’t think there’s time for that, but hopefully, we can run it with the other 5th-grade class.
Finally! I have been trying to introduce my site to Breakout EDU for quite a while now. I have been working with my principal for over 6 months on finding a time that works best. Yesterday was the day!
Over Spring Break my principal emailed and asked if it would be doable to host a breakout at our next meeting. I was thrilled! Yes, totally doable and I knew exactly which game I wanted to use: Faculty Meeting.
Since I have five Breakout boxes (one official and four self-created) I was able to split the teachers into manageable groups of 4 or 5. In addition, my class has done several and were able to help me set up for the teachers. I even had 2 student volunteers who stayed to help out. It was rough starting. Many of the teachers weren’t sure how to approach this. It’s so different from what is done in classrooms. This was a very different experience than when I first introduced it to my students (NOTE: I’ve been doing breakouts for 1 1/2 years with students). My students dive right in; sometimes trying out codes on locks without any clues – they get reminders that they need to solve clues to get the codes. But after a few minutes, all the teams were busily working on codes. Some teams were precise in their work, while others were a little less reserved.
In the end, all teams broke out. Several teachers commented what fun it was and how they had to think outside the box to solve the clues. Which is the point; think outside of the box to break into the box!
What was really fun to watch was the Kinder team work together – they choose to sit as a group. They work really well together and are like a well-oiled machine. It definitely showed in the end. That’s not to say the other teams didn’t work well together because they did. Something about seeing the Kinder teachers who eat lunch together, collaborate daily, and constantly communicate work through the Breakout was fun.
In the end, we talked about how it can be used in the classroom and it was revealed that our principal purchased 2 kits for our site. There were a few who said they were going to check out the Breakout EDU website for games and information. One Kinder teacher wants to try it, with my help. What an awesome experience! Can’t wait for those kits to arrive.
Thank you to KCAM principal, staff, and students for allowing me to share the Breakout fun with you!
Finally, today I held my first real BreakoutEDU of the year. I say ‘real’ because I had run Mini Math Breakouts earlier this year. They were a success, but I just didn’t have enough kits to pull off a full class Breakout (I now know it can be done with one kit and tickets).
Holy Cow! It was a GREAT success. I mean, I knew it would be but it still blew my mind. A few weeks ago I sucked it up and purchased 4 more DIY kits. I had purchased one from the website a little over a year ago and was hesitant to buy more – I’m cheap! Anyhow, today I ran 5 simultaneous breakouts – Grammar Gurus.
The entire class was engaged. Each group had no more than 6 students. They all seemed to work well together. There were a few groups that I had to remind to communicate with one another, but honestly, they did great. In the end, no groups completed the task. A few came really close to opening the last lock.
The really fun part, for me, was watching the students work together, quietly, for 45 minutes. This is something they rarely do – especially lately. In the end, they begged to have more time. Even when I didn’t give them more time to finish the puzzles they asked if we could do it again, WHEN we could do it again, and suggested we do one every Thursday.
When was the last time your students failed a task and BEGGED to do it again, soon? Later in the afternoon, I had another group of students in my classroom. They saw the locked boxes and asked what they were. I briefly explained what we did earlier and they asked when they were going to do one.
I’m so excited with the outcome that I will try to plan them more often. I already have one planned for Read Across America Day – Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. If you haven’t tried a Breakout, I highly suggest you do. You and your kids will love it.
This week I wanted a fun review of the objectives that we have learned in Math thus far. So my ‘brilliant’ idea was to create 5 mini BreakoutEDU games for the students to rotate through. I have 5 tables groups, thus the 5 mini games. I went through our math program and copied some challenge problems for the students to solve. I gave them 5 minutes to complete each game.
Yes, one of the breakout boxes is a backpack! This was their first exposure to BreakoutEDU. At first, they thought it was going to be easy. A few decided that they would just ‘mess’ with the locks. They soon figured out, it wasn’t so easy!
So during the first round, only 1 of the 5 groups was successful. The other groups were disappointed that they didn’t succeed. I also think they thought it would be much easier than it was. The next round was a bit more successful: 2 groups succeeded. I even had one group that went 3-2 for games. All in all, 11 of the 25 games were successful. Not bad for our first try.
At one point, one of the groups that hadn’t cracked any locks asked if we were going to do it again on Monday. I was a bit nervous that the lack of success with this group (based on the kids in the group) was proving to be discouraging. However, when I answered no they were disappointed that they WEREN’T doing it again on Monday! They went on to tell me how much fun it was! This will be happening again this year.