Breakout Boxes are a BIG HIT!

You’ve heard about them from your colleagues, you’ve wondered about how they work… are they really as great as everyone says?  The answer is YES!!  Breakout boxes whether they are digital or physical are a great instructional tool that keeps student engaged while also challenging them to think critically.

Here’s the gist.  A breakout experience can be useful in many avenues of your instruction, they are good for introducing content and getting students interested, practicing skills they’ve already been taught or even reviewing/remediating older material.  The basic concept of a breakout experience is that students are trying to “breakout” of ____ (box, mall, etc. etc. etc.) by unlocking codes or locks.  The keys to the codes and/or locks are hidden within the lesson.  It could be the answer to a question or a series of answers that are clues to a code.

What makes breakout experiences so successful is that students can’t just guess answers and move on.  They are also forced to problem solve and read directions because the breakout box will not allow false answers.  With a breakout experience students have to explore answers, figure out the right questions to ask and synthesize information to come up with solutions.  Plus, students are engaged!

We’ve had a few teachers use digital breakout boxes here at Wilder and each time they’ve been a big hit!  Math course 2 and 3 were rocking breakout experiences that Kaitlin Ray helped them create.  For math course 3 they were challenged to break their teacher out of mall jail by proving her innocence in the fountain coin theft!  Math course 2 had to do their household chores in order to get their wifi password back.  Each chore had math questions attached to it and looked awesome!  (Check out the lessons linked below!)

But wait!  There’s more!  6th grade science students were doing break out boxes in Mrs. Unger’s class as they reviewed counting atoms.  Their challenge was to find the missing ingredients to Grandma’s apple pie by solving science related questions.

When I came in to see the kids in action – there was consistent results across the board.  Kids were working at their own pace, engaged in their learning, feeling as though they had choice since they could choose where to start and were critically thinking.  In each of the classes the first few minutes were tough for the kids because they wanted the answers to come easily.  Having to problem solve and read directions may not have felt natural to them but after walking through a few examples, they ran with it.   I saw students working together and asking each other for help, they were proud when they got the code right and felt rejuvenated to keep going.  It was instruction at its best.  A huge hats off to the teachers who utilized this tool in their rooms!  Shout out to Mike Dunson, Dondre Lightfoot, Rebecca Morrish, Ashley Unger, Chandra Grant, Jennifer Henry, Danielle Antonacci, Parish Talley and Dorota Ceglarz! 

Be sure to ask them how they liked it and for help if you want to incorporate this tool into your unit!  Check out their great work here:

Math Course 2 Breakout            Math Course 3 Breakout               6th Grade Science Breakout

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