Wednesday 19 October 2016


Wow, what a breakout year it has been (excuse the pun).

It was only this time last year that I first attended a session at the KL GAFE summit. I had heard about escape rooms, I was even invited to have a go (if only I didn't have small children). I love puzzles and challenges so was worth a look.

Wow, it was an instant hit, I love it and loved the possibilities. There was so much potential to use it in any subject area.

My challenge was, how was I going to introduce it to IGBIS? It ended up being easier than I thought, we had a small team of dedicated teachers who had the same breakout experience as me. They were just as excited as me and together we vowed to give it a go. We got some locks and boxes, we started putting together our own breakout kit.

One teacher +Steven Harvey started doing it with his grade four class, once again an instant hit. The kids didn't solve their first breakout but they loved it and they and the teacher learnt so much about teamwork.

Next I helped another teacher plan and modify a simple machines breakout with a grade one class. It was exciting to prove that even 6yr olds could work together and solve puzzles and problems.

To give the staff a experience I developed and ran a quick 15 minute breakout and hosted it five days in a row at lunchtime in a small room off the staffroom.

That way people could come when they didn't have duty or had a spare lunch break. Five lunches the same breakout every day. Completely voluntary and lots of fun. A third of the staff attended these lunchtime breakout sessions.

Then we went online (like our own version of the homework). I developed an online breakout using Google Forms. The questions were compulsory and used data validation so the participant couldn't progress until they got the code correct

On Monday I posted it on the daily notices and let the teachers try and work it out on their own. It didn't take long for teams to self organise and work together. Groups of people were seen sitting around a computer in the lunchroom trying to solve a nasty difficult puzzle. Yep some ingenious nerdy types worked out how to hack the Google form but that didn't matter, we were all learning as we went. I learnt how to hack a Google form

Then is started, teachers in secondary started doing breakouts for all sorts of subject areas and the elementary teachers kept on breaking out.

I saw or was part of

  • a just for fun breakout session with grade 4 
  • a transition breakout for grade 5 to get them ready for secondary school
  • a grade 6 cyber safety breakout 
  • a grade 11 Psychology breakout
  • a grade 1 breakout that was part of a field trip learning about maps. 
  • grade 8 maths breakouts
  • a staff breakout for new teachers to introduce them to the systems we use at school
Teachers borrowed the gear to take home and host breakout birthday parties.

As more people used the gear, more people purchased more locks and boxes, different types of locks. People found interesting puzzle and code sites. The breakout beast grew and grew.

We have had cooperative breakout lessons, competitive breakout lessons and soon parent breakout lessons.

The best thing about breakout is that the students have to work cooperatively and independently and the teacher has to get out of the way and let the learning happen. Some of them even get an understanding that learning can happen without them up the front lecturing all the time.

I have presented at learning 2, at the Aims conference and will soon be presenting it at the Deep learning conference.

I love,
I love the way it

  • turns learning on it's head
  • makes students self organise and problem solve
  • forces the teacher into the background as an observer
  • allows kids to reflect on their learning and their team work
  • gives students the opportunity to think laterally
  • is lots of FUN