breakoutedu · education · jcpsky · learning · students · teaching · third grade

#BreakoutEdu in Third Grade

Today was the last day of school before Spring Break.  It was insane, to say the least.  In addition, it was also our school wide “Morning Meeting” and JCPS’ Day of Innovation and Play.  The purpose of the Day of Innovation and Play was to invite teachers from around the district to try something new  and innovative in their classroom.  We were supposed to tweet out our innovation by using the hashtag #JCPSDeeperLearning.  There was SO MANY cool things going on around the district, it was hard to keep up.  I was so excited to have the opportunity to break out something new, especially on a day which is usually chaos!  (I mean, let’s add fuel to the fire, shall we not?)

I heard about Breakout Edu ( about a year ago.  A couple of teacher friends that I knew had tried it in their classrooms.  It wasn’t until I attended ECET2KY back in November that I was able to actually try it out myself.  You can read about my experience at ECET2KY here.  Ever since then, I’ve been curious to try it out in my own classroom.  The BreakoutEdu kits cost $125, but it includes the box, a multitude of different locks, and other materials useful to make your Breakout experience worthwhile.  It is definitely worth the money, if you have it.  The site also has a list of premade games for all levels and group sizes.  The games available on the site are all free using the password “showyourwork.” Who doesn’t love free?

I, however, didn’t have the money nor the time to wait for the box to ship.  But I was determined to make my dream of a BreakoutEdu happen on JCPS Innovation and Play Day!  So, using some Amazon gift cards (thanks, Go365), I purchased some locks and invisible pens.  I had a set of luggage at home that I could use as my makeshift boxes, so that was all I really needed.  Below is a list of the locks I purchased from and their prices: (Disclosure: These are affiliate links.)

  • Directional Lock (I bought 2):  
  • click here

  • 3 Digit Combination Lock (I bought 2): click here
  • 4 Digit Combination Lock (comes in a set of 2, so I only bought 1):  click here
  • Alphanumeric Lock (I meant to buy 2, but only purchased 1, but I made it work): click here
I also purchased this set of invisible pens.  In all, my purchase came out to right under $60 before I used my gift cards.
The game I pulled off of the BreakoutEdu website was a Dr. Seuss “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” themed reading game for elementary level students.  You can find the link in the caption below.  It was designed to be used at the beginning of the school year and have students find their “Ticket to Learning” for the year.  I modified the story to fit my needs, but left the clues almost identical.  
Here is a breakdown of how my game was setup:
The link to the game I used and modified can be found here.
  1. Students read the story introduction.  You can find the story here.
  2. I had two main boxes (read: luggage) for groups to open.  These boxes were locked with the directional lock, the 3 digit lock, and the 4 digit lock.  Each group worked together to use the map clue, the “look left, look right” clue, and the boarding passes clue from the original game to open the box.
  3. I had to modify the original game because I only have one alphanumeric lock.  I placed their “prize” inside my last piece of luggage and used the alphanumeric lock.  Inside the first boxes to open (see step 2), I placed two more clues.  The reverse alphabet clue told them where the last box was hidden.  It was behind a book case.  The final clue told them the combination.  Once they figured them out, they were able to open the final box and receive their Spring Break prize: sunglasses and sweat bands!
I am proud to share that of all three classes, the longest time spent breaking out was ONLY 30 minutes!  The kids were motivated and really worked hard to understand those clues, as well as work together.  And we all know how hard that can be for third graders, especially the day before a long break.  I had to prompt more heavily and give more clues for some groups, but it was a learning process for all involved.  Including myself!

It was worth the chaos.  I have some pictures that are worth a thousand words.  The smiles could light up a room.  Wish I could share them all with you (those darn photo releases)!  Be sure to check out #JCPSDeeperLearning on Twitter to see some more innovation!

Any of you looking to try BreakoutEdu for the first time?  Or have you tried it in the past?  I’d love to hear your success (and let’s do better next time) stories!  Share, share, share!


You. Are. Enough.

It’s that time of year.  The never-ending month that is March is coming to a close and Spring Break is here.  After break, we have 4 weeks until the dreaded K-PREP test and only 33 days until the last day of school.

It’s one of my favorite times of the year:  the impending summer, the smell of freedom is in the air.  But it’s also a time of reflection.  I start to worry:  did I do enough?  Could I have done something differently?  Do I have enough time to help *that* student make at least some progress?

The answer to all of those questions is yes.  Yes, I did enough.  I worked my heart out, as I’m sure you did too.  I put my sweat and tears (more than I’d like to admit) into helping my students grow.  Did it work?  For most of them, yes.  I have the data to prove it. (Don’t we all?)

Yes, I could have done a million things differently.  I could have taught that unit a bit slower, should have spent more time on this or that.  As a teacher, we make adjustments every day.  I learn from one class to the next, from one week to another.  I made constant adjustments.  Could I have made more?  Absolutely.  But I did what I knew in my heart to be what’s best for my students at that particular time.  Next year, I will review and do better.  I will do in my heart what is best for the next group of kiddos when they get to me.

Yes, I do have enough time to help *that* student.  It is never too late to make a difference.  I cannot and will not give up on him or her.  We will keep working until the last moment, when I hug them goodbye and send them on.

My point of is this:  You did fine.  You, with your tired eyes and weary heart, you did fine.  You made a difference.  You helped students grow.  You spent hours and hours slaving away, in and out of the classroom, dreaming of them and talking your significant other’s ear off about them.

I know you’ve talked about them, dreamt about them, cried about them.  I know that, at this point in the year, you are about ready to say “Good riddance!”  But I also know, if you’re anything like me, you will cry your eyes out when they walk out those doors for the last time.

You’ve only got a few weeks left.  Enjoy them.  Make the most of them.  Keep the learning going and keep the excitement high.  Go out big!

You can do this, teacher, because you are enough.  Remember that.