Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Adventures in Breakout EDU



When I first heard about these kits, I was very very curious.  It wasn't until I went to a conference and really learned about them that I got excited about doing this!  My excitement escalated when I got my precious two boxes of breakout edu.  Time to get started!  Well.... there were some glitches along the way, so hopefully this post may help.

First of all you get a white paper in the box that has a website and password.  I took this and went directly into the site where I found how the locks worked, how to set up a game, examples of  games- the whole shebang.  I was feeling really euphoric!

Then I started playing with the locks.  Yep....those can be a little tricky.  Some of them (READ THE DIRECTIONS!) were easy peasy, but others?  I had to play with them for quite awhile to get them to work.  It takes finesse, understanding the directions, and gnashing of teeth to have them all up and working.  So what I thought would be super easy actually took me quite awhile to set all the locks for four boxes.  WARNING:  you can't do this 30 minutes before you use them.  Give yourself at least a day so you can walk away if need be or get someone to help.

Then came the creativity.  I feel I'm a pretty creative person.  This portion, the making of the game, can't be taught to you.  It has to come from within....sometimes deep within.  I was using the these boxes as a demo and again, it took a lot of thought and practice to get a semblance of something cool.  First, you have to start out with a story ie you have to write a story.  Okay, got it. That was the easiest part of writing a breakout edu game.

THEN....you have to come up with clues for each lock.  You need to give yourself time to do this, so take time to think of these clues, as they can't be straight up answers.  This took me more time than I thought as I made FOUR DIFFERENT GAMES because of course...I didn't read the directions.  Usually you create one game and put the clues for different boxes on different colored sheets (which I read after I had completed all four games!) DUH....but something great came out of this.  After the second game, I was able to whip them out with no problem.

Next, make sure you demo this game before you actually play it.  Did I mention you need to demo this game before you actually play it?   Yes, I did with my library aides and boy, did I find where I needed more help and clues that needed to be less obtuse.  I told the students I would re-do them and they could come back tomorrow and play, which they did and they worked!!  Angels sang, the lights shone brighter...it was a miracle!

Needless to say, Breakout EDU will take you for a loop the first time.  And yes, maybe the second or third.  I was frustrated through some of the process, but you know what?  When I heard the kids telling me they were thinking about replaying the game all day before they came to the library, that was all I needed to make it worth my time.  They couldn't wait to try the next one!

Bottom line?  Buy a kit.  If you can't afford it, piecemeal one through Amazon.  And start looking at lessons and see how they are using them.  I'm attaching mine here with some words of advice you can take or leave.  Now, today is the day librarians get hands on experience with it....wish me luck!!

Here is a link to the clues and story.  Remember, there are four different lessons, so one clue from each section will complete the kit

To start the game, I made a simple coded message using the wingding or webding font on MS Word.
There are LOTS of different ways to create a coded message, but this was by far the easiest.

You also have to have a directional map.  You can make one in MS Excel, and here is one I made.  I would suggest downloading it and editing it to fit your needs.

Have fun, and if you have any great tips, please leave a comment.

3 comments:

MMWmS said...

LOVE Breakout EDU. I've done pre-made games and games I wrote myself, and I'm always interested to see what causes the most consternation when students try to figure out the clues. The locks DO need close attention, as does the whole process. When doing the game with a class, we found that having smaller groups was best. There is a great color coding explanation that helped us to work with groups as big as 36 students.

Our choir did one as well -- but for that I used 4 boxes, with 4 groups to each box. This makes for a LOT of preparation, so as Naomi says, start days ahead. The more modalities that you use, the better. We used audio clues, video, math, spelling, etc. Don't be afraid to tweak an existing story or base your clue on one found in the community. Most folks are VERY helpful and happy to share.

Naomi Bates said...

LOVE your idea of different modalities! I'm going to incorporate some of these next time. And if you're using QR codes, get the kids to use their snapchats instead of downloading an app. This happened with the first game, hence the secret message instead ��

Mary Z said...

I've been having fun with Breakouts, too! (My second game for elementary school was just accepted to be published on the BreakoutEDU site.)

This summer I'm planning to create a big library orientation one for grades 7-10.