While I am not in the classroom this year, I have an open invitation from my former teaching partner to visit anytime. I created Breakout Games for Back to School and used one of my visits to play one of them with the 2nd graders.
If You Take a Mouse to School was inspired by the Book of the same name by Laura Numeroff.
The Mouse was in our room last night and locked our crayons in the Breakout EDU box. He left clues around the room to help us. We need to read the clues, figure out the combinations to open the locks and get our crayons back!
Clues include using the UV Flashlight to discover letters and try to create a word, reading a Reader's Theater Script and finding the number words, and counting markers.
When playing the game with the whole class, the students are broken into smaller groups, and the clues are spread around the room. Playing Breakout EDU games allows students to try and fail, try again, fail again, try again and succeed. I find the brightest students struggle in the beginning because the clue is not always obvious and they need to think differently. I love to watch the students as the light bulb goes off and they figure it out.
While the goal is students working together and cooperatively, we all know this is not always the reality. When the students do argue, and are ultimately unsuccessful in breaking out, the discussion that happens after in the debrief is where the real learning happens. It is the chance to have the students talk about how they worked, the good and the not so good, and think about how they could have been more successful.
To learn more about Breakout EDU, visit breakoutedu.com.
I created a Breakout game for the class, but i didn't realize until AFTER I printed all the clues and locked the key in the box that everything was in Spanish! Luckily I know that the 2n, 3rd, and 4th graders have Spanish class twice a week, so I am sure they will be able to decipher the clues and Escapar!
This was how out last Breakout Game began. I created the game with the clues in Spanish to give the students an opportunity to use and apply what they have been learning. I am not a Spanish teacher, but I did have out Spanish teacher check over the clues to make sure all was correct. The children did a great job of figuring out most of the clues. I am always surprised at what does stump them. One clue read "dieciseis menos nueve." They knew what dieciseis and nueve meant, but the word menos in the middle stumped them. One when group heard the clue, something you would hear in math class, that flipped the switch and they knew what to do.
One fun aspect of the Breakout games is watching the team work. Some teams will be little machines going through the clues, while others will have a few stops and starts along the way. Some groups will go right to the lock and try random combinations (this never works!) while others will stop and look at the clues before they touch the lock. It is great to see who emerges as a leader and who are happy followers. I was pleased to see one students who in the past was on the sidelines and not contributing, to step up and figure out some the puzzles first. I mix the groups up each time we play to keep the dynamics different and to hopefully teach them that you need to figure out a way to work with everyone.
The students love playing the Breakout games. I love that they don't see them as work, even though they are doing more than the average worksheet (they have never cheered when I have handed out a worksheet.) I love watching them problem solve, think, work together and have fun learning. It is always a learning experience, even when they don't breakout. We always talk about what went well, what they would do differently and what they liked best. Breakout or not, Breakout Games are always a win win!
We used and old Twister Board to work on Coding this week. The students gathered around and took turns as the computer programmer and the computer or robot. They gave the command for the robot to follow to go from the start to the Beanie Baby on the mat. We started with a few direct routes, then we had fun and traveled a few indirect routes. The students used the directions "walk forward", "walk backward", "turn right", and "turn left." We talked about adding "jump one" and "move diagonally" to our direction bank the next time. We did this as a whole group but plan to work in smaller groups next time. We have several Twister Boards to spread around the room. I loved how excited the kids got when I took out the Twister Board. There is something about those bright colored circles and getting to take your shoes off that makes it fun.
The second graders LOVE when we play Breakout Edu games. I love it as well because they are engaged, thinking, working together, learning and moving. I try to mix up the groups so they are working with different classmates each time and the peer interactions are always interesting.
As a teacher, it is an excellent opportunity to really observe my students as I need to be hands off. It isn't easy to not give a little hint or two, but I find if I stand back and remind them to look at the information, they eventually do figure it out.
We have played many games and they always begin with a story. Here is the story and description for Custodian Games, our latest Breakout Adventure...
Our beloved custodian wanted to do something special for us because we were his favorite class, and we always kept our classroom in such great shape. He left us a surprise in the form of a Breakout Game. He knew how much we like puzzles, so he locked the surprise in our Breakout Edu box, and left us a few puzzles that we needed to solve. The puzzles were clues that helped us open locked boxes and collect the clues we needed to open the final box. All in all, we had to open 4 boxes before the Breakout Edu box! We only had 45 minutes to work, and luckily we were all able to solve all the puzzles and Breakout!
In this game the second graders had to answer story problems, decipher a code to find a hidden key, solve addition subtraction problems and use place value clues to figure out the last lock combination. All groups were successful and were rewarded with some very cool erasers (and an activity that was much more fun than a math worksheet.)
Visit Breakout Edu to learn more.
"You need to see this, Mrs. Harju!" "Come see what I just did." " I figured it out!" "See, it moves now!" These are some of the things heard as the 4th graders used Scratch to create Race games. Some of the many wonderful things about Scratch are the tutorials available. The list has grown from a couple to more than 10 and it keeps growing. The tutorials give students the step-by-step process to create a Maze game, Hide-n-Seek animation, Holiday Card, Virtual Pet, Dance animation, the Race Animation and more.
The beauty of the tutorials is they are easy to follow, give very detailed directions with visuals, and give students a starting point. Scratch has so many levels. It is accessible for the youngest coders and has enough to challenge the more advanced. The activities and tools allow for creativity so students can make the project they want. Projects can be shared with the Scratch community and my students love to explore and learn from the work of others.
Follow the directions to make your way through the maze! 2nd graders did some programming on paper this week. They designed a maze and then imagined that they were writing the program for a robot to go through the maze. Using arrows and numbers the students did an excellent and accurate job writing the program.
The children enjoyed creating the mazes and many added their own additional elements. Frances added a step where her robot needed to get a key and unlock a door before completing the maze.
The 2nd graders have had experience with coding programs on the computer using arrows as direction symbols. I found this lesson plan and more on this Scientific American blog post. We will revisit this lesson again using some of the extensions suggested in the blog post. The children were excited, engaged and creative!
The Kindergarteners started the New Year Coding with Kodable. Kodable has always been one of my favorite iPad Apps for the younger ones and I was thrilled to see the web based version. It was easy to create accounts for the Kinders. I put the direct link on our Tech wiki, and the Kinders were able to quickly log in by clicking on the link and finding their name. Having the students log in allows me to keep track of their progress. The students figured out what to do pretty quickly and were also happy to help each other. They enjoyed writing the program by dragging arrows to the correct box to help the Fuzz Family get through the maze and collect the coins. It was fun to see how engaged they all were and to see the students problem solving. Some of the sequences look pretty complicated and I was impressed at how quickly they figured them out.
Kodable begins with simple sequencing activities and as the students progress through the levels, they will encounter loops, conditions, functions and more, all presented in an easy to understand way, explained through visuals. The idea of de-bugging is integral to Kodable, as the students often need to figure out what they did wrong, to make it right. Kodable is fun, engaging, and requires students to critically think, problem solve, predict, so much more.
"This is so cool!" "Awesome!" "Look at this!" was heard throughout the classroom as the 2nd graders worked with a partner to explore the Discovery VR App.
They were excited, engaged, working together, and learning. They safely visited shark infested waters, got up close with elephants and giraffes and walked through forests. This just scratches the surface of the VR experiences available on the Discovery VR App and I am just as excited as my students are to explore more.
Search for Discovery VR in the App store, making sure you choose iPhone only. It is a free App. (It worked fine for us on iPads and iPad minis.) I also asked the children to sit on the floor to use it. I did not want them walking around, bumping into things and tripping as they swam with the sharks. They were all over the room, but moved on their knees, and moved slowly. No injuries to the children or the tech to report.
Students in grades 1st through 8th were given the chance to Breakout of Rudolph's Room. The second graders were happy to have another opportunity as some of them Failed the last time. Each class worked in groups of 3-4 students. They needed to crack a secret code, decipher clues on the tables and wall, find the hidden key and open 5 different locks to collect the clues to the final puzzle, get a small treat (candy canes of course), and Breakout from Rudolph's Room.
We love our Breakout Edu kit and can't wait to play more (learning!) games in the New Year.
I teach technology to grades Preschool through 8th grade in the mornings, and 2nd grade math, science and religion in the afternoon.I love to share the ways we utilize technology to enhance our learning.