Escape rooms are popping up all over the country, and if you haven't heard of them before, you are missing out on a great way to increase engagement in your Spanish classroom in a fun and challenging way.
Basically, Escape Rooms are places where you and a group of your friends or family can go, pay someone money to lock you in a room, and then try your hand at solving puzzles in order to figure out how to get out within the 60 minute time limit. Breakout EDU takes all of the fun of an Escape Room and moves it to the classroom.
During a Breakout game, students work in groups to solve a series of puzzles that will give them combinations to open locked boxes and ultimately win the game. The materials are pretty simple - boxes, locks, and puzzles. If you're not sure you are ready to go that far, even just the puzzles will get your students applying their newly found Spanish skills in new ways. If you want to just jump in, it is relatively easy to have your project financially supported with local grants or through websites like donorschoose.org. There is even a company that sells a Breakout EDU kit just for educators for around $100. The site also features ready made games that can be downloaded, though there isn't much in the way of Spanish yet which is why I had to create me own games. I made my own kit with materials purchased from Amazon because I was picky about what I wanted and it was a bit cheaper to piece it together myself.
The benefits of involving your students in Breakout games are many. Students will learn important real world skills, such as how to work together, problem solve, and think creatively. From a content perspective, I have found that not only are the puzzles that students will be asked to solve a great way to review concepts, culture, and vocabulary...but they also increase student motivation BIG TIME. Students seem to WANT to learn the material well because they know the games are coming. I knew my students would like Breakout EDU, but I did not expect to overhear comments like "this is the only reason I came to school today". Giving students a reason to be excited about coming to school is a great thing - if every student had something to be excited about every day at school, I think we would see a much different atmosphere school wide (idealistic, I know, but it has to start somewhere).
We have been learning about food for the past week and I have been stuffing kids full of vocabulary and comprehensible input in preparation for our big launch into talking about what we eat in Spanish later this week. I will be giving them a reading & listening assessment tomorrow, so today was the perfect day to see exactly how much they can understand when it comes to food in Spanish.
Puzzle 1: Students were given a card with clues and a word search. On the back of the card was a hint that said "Remember, sharing is caring!". Once the students found the word for each clue, they had to find the letters that were shared by two words and that gave them the 4 letter code to open up their first box.
Puzzle #3: The next box contained two lacing puzzles. Students had to use the puzzle to lace Spanish and English food words with the same meaning together. If they did it correctly, there would be 3 arrows showing on each puzzle (other arrows would become covered by the string as they completed the puzzle, so they had to complete it to figure out what the correct arrows were). Once they had completed both lacing puzzles, they had 6 arrows visible which were the code to a directional lock that would open the next box.