Escaping the Ordinary

When Cynthia Ross told me about her Escape Room in Mod Civ, I thought back to a post I wrote about Keith Shanks last year.   The date of the post?  Almost exactly a year ago today on May 25, 2017.  Funny how we are always thinking about escaping this time of year!
Escape rooms didn’t start as educational activities, but the very nature of the task makes it the perfect classroom lesson.   Many adults seek out and pay to experience the pressure and excitement of an escape room…so why not bring a bit of that fun into the classroom?  This activity has all of the ingredients to make it an entertaining, yet educational 21st-century lesson.   Curiosity? Check.  Competition?  Check.  Collaboration?  Check.  Critical thinking?  Check.  JOY…big CHECK!
Cynthia designed an escape room as a way for students to study for their upcoming WWII exam.
The Scenario:
 She placed students in groups and gave them the scenario:  Save secret archived info inside the UN. They had 30 minutes to complete their mission.
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The First Clue:
Students were then given the first clue.  Once solved, they found the quote, “A date which will live in infamy.” They then quickly worked out this was Pearl Harbor and used the date as the code to unlock the “room.”
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The Room:
Breakout Room
The groups then entered the code on their Chromebooks to gain access to the room above.  The room was actually a Google Site that Cynthia created and linked to her own webpage.  The room contained different “locks.” Each lock was actually a Google Form that was hidden in a photo from the Churchill War Rooms in London. Once they unlocked a room they then were given the next set of clues, repeating the process through two more digital locks.

Lock 1Lock 3

The Escape:
Once they reached the end, the students solved a jigsaw puzzle with the last clue that gave away the month D-Day happened (June) and that code unlocked the physical lock in the front of the room.
Final Jigsaw Clue
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The Reward:
The winning group won Smarties candy that was locked away inside.  But all of the students will win once it comes time for the assessment and they find themselves to be thoroughly prepared!
Doesn’t this sound like fun?  Not only are students tapping into content knowledge that they will need for the upcoming assessment and filling in where gaps may be present in their learning,  but they are also collaborating!  All this and they are excited about the process.  Imagine how Cynthia’s EL students experienced this lesson.  They were able to listen and talk to their peers as they reviewed the content together.  This sure beats being sent home with a handout of terms to review alone!

I have to say, I thought there would be bumps, but no. The kids all got really into it and focused on the tasks. It was such a worthwhile way to review. Now that I have the foundation done, I can modify this up for other units and classes. I plan to make one for the French Revolution unit since that is the exam students struggle with most in the first semester.  —Cynthia Ross

Cynthia tried something new (at the end of the school year!) and found success.  Now more than ever teachers can view teaching as a creative craft.  We do not need to be tied down to outdated, stale lessons.   Why pull out that old Xerox from 1993 when our world has so drastically changed?  From our students to our very methods of communication, much is different.  Change begins with trying something new, with embracing technology, with moving out of our comfort zones.   As cliché as it sounds, change begins with us.   Trust your instincts.  Bring joy into your classroom.  You can escape.  Escape your own beliefs and experiences in regards to what teaching should “traditionally” look like and find exciting and innovative ways to reach your students.
As always, I can help! Drop by, email, call.  I would love to assist as you plan your very own escape from the ordinary world of teaching.
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