180 Days and Counting . . . No, I am not counting but my students might be and I know I have many students who are NOT looking forward to coming back to school.
Why does the first day of school have to be typical with interest inventories and going over the class objectives and requirements? Bring some fun into the classroom with an escape room activity. Similar to a Breakout EDU, an immersive physical and digital game platform, an escape room contains both physical and digital puzzles for students to solve and “unlock.” An escape room requires teamwork, creative and critical thinking.
Using both physical locks and digital puzzles, students participate in an escape room the first day of class to showcase their knowledge of English Language Arts. I used quiz validation on a Google Form for students to curate their escape room clues and answers. Students work in teams to solve six different puzzles. First, the class is divided in three teams, each team will receive one of the puzzles that will lead to another puzzle or lock box. I am using both digital and physical locks for more options and engagement.
- Using a pigpen cipher students decode different young adult book titles. I have placed these actual young adult books on display in my classroom. Inside one of these books a page is marked, the page number will unlock a small lock box that contain two additional puzzles.
- A blank plot pyramid is part of the next clue. Along with the blank pyramid, students will receive a bank with mixed up definitions of plot points: Conflict, Exposition, Falling Action, Resolution, and Rising Action. Students have to select the correct plot points in order to unlock this digital lock.
- Using QR Codes, students view four different movie trailers and identify the types of conflict presented in each movie trailer.
- Comma or No Comma is a bank of sentences that students will have to decide which uses the commas correctly. Each box has a letter and the correct sentences spell a word that will unlock this digital lock.
- “The Mixed Up Files of Dr. Haiken” includes questions about the teacher for students to decode. From symbols (like the secret code below) to mixed up letters or numbers, students decode the answers.
- Jigsaw Planet has free online puzzles for students to solve. On this site you can also create, play, share jigsaw puzzles and compete with other users. I have uploaded a picture for students to solve and answer a question about the image in the puzzle.
Escape Rooms can be fun and exciting for students and intimidating for teachers to create. Looking online, there are many examples and samples to model your own escape room activities. Mix easy and challenging puzzles to keep all students engaged. Map out the order of the puzzles students will complete and go through a dress rehearsal before the students give it a try to work out any kinks. Then, let the students escape. To build interest and engagement think of a storyline and start with a trailer to build excitement. And don’t forget to include fun in all aspects of the escape.