Monday, April 2, 2018

BreakoutEDU comes to Pond Cove

I attended ACTEM this year, as I have done for 5 years now, with excitement to learn from the amazing professionals who run the sessions. On Thursday, I was fortunate to attend a double session of coding with Tim Hart from Apple. On Friday I wanted to try something new and attended a session on Breakout EDU. I had heard the term before but wasn't quite sure how to use it, especially in Elementary Education.

Breakout EDU is basically Escape Room for students with the use of standards to help solve puzzles. Students work together to solve puzzles to "breakout" of imaginary situations. Most Breakout EDU sessions are 45 minutes and require the use of a kit. These kits can be purchased at Breakout EDU or can be created by purchasing materials on Amazon or at your local hardware store.

The session at ACTEM was incredible and I remember thinking, "What took me so long to discover this?" and "Where has this been all my life?" I immediately ordered a kit and emailed a 4th-grade teacher on our staff who had done them before.

I observed my first breakout EDU in Mrs. MacInnes' class. They did one called "The Big Bad Wolf". I was amazed at how Breakout EDU hits all 4 C's of 21st Century Education (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity). The communication and collaboration are through the roof. In this particular Breakout EDU, students were in small groups and moved around the room to solve puzzles eventually leading to a final puzzle which would allow them to escape from the Big Bad Wolf.

When my kit arrived I found a game on their website called Monster Mash. It was perfect to introduce the concept to students as Halloween was just around the corner. All second-grade students and most third-grade students at Pond Cove attempted to Breakout of the monster dungeon.

The most important part of the Breakout, aside from the 4 C's, was the conversation we had afterward. The kit comes with cards which can be used to start the "after" conversation. Students were open and honest about successes, failures, teamwork and growth mindset. Students were eager to try another one.

This inspired me to start to write my own. I am currently working on an Ancient Egypt Breakout for 3rd-grade and I have created a North America/Map Skills themed Breakout for 2nd-Grade. Both Breakouts tackle over Common Core Standards that students have already learned, or are starting to explore. The students of Pond Cove elementary school are enjoying this new concept in education (Breakout EDU) and are constantly asking for another one. The staff at Pond Cove may be seeing one in their future as well... :-)

In closing, if you have heard of Breakout EDU or not, find someone who has and watch one in action. If you live in the Southern Maine area and want to see one of ours, please email me tcharltray@capeelizabethschools.org we would love to have visitors! In a world that needs communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking more than ever before, Breakout EDU is a great way to offer these essential skills and also incorporate the standards.

UPDATE as of March 2018: We have now successfully completed BreakoutEDU sessions with 4th. 3rd, and 2nd-Grade students. We have covered topics including, Animal Adaptation, Fractions, Test Prep, and are very excited to start a Charlotte's Web Breakout when our visiting author, Melissa Sweet, comes to see us.



Friday, November 18, 2016

At Pond Cove, we like to try new educational technologies. Last year we introduced Minecraft in education and 3D printing and design. This year we are continuing to grow and learn with those tools and we are excited to introduce Virtual Reality!
So far second-grade students have visited several national parks as well as the locations of the US symbols. We have plans to use Virtual Reality (VR) with third-grade students when they start their unit on Ancient Egypt. Also in the works is technology integration in Health, where students in fourth and third grade will explore the brain and the skeletal systems through VR and the free app Google Expeditions. At this time we have six Google Cardboard headsets. We have recently put out a letter to the community asking for old phone donations to grow our VR program at Pond Cove and throughout the district. As for apps, so far we are using Google Street view, Google Expeditions, and Google Arts and Culture. These are all free apps and do not require a headset to view.

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The Pond Cove eTeam is currently working on Google Cardboard storage and charging solutions. The team plans to also create tutorial videos on how to use the VR headsets and apps.

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As always, we appreciate your feedback. Do you know about an app or VR program that would be great for our students? Please comment below. Stay tuned for more updates and blog posts.