Classroom Breakouts Made Easy!

Holiday Breakouts Bundle

As a tech specialist, I love to visit classrooms and introduce students to digital breakouts.  However, nothing is more frustrating than finding one to share with students, only to realize they can't access it.  Many districts (without the knowledge of teachers) block students from accessing Google Sites that are not built within their district's own Google Domain.  Now, some of these districts will "unblock" them temporarily if they confirm there is nothing offensive on them.  But, other districts (mine included) will not be so willing to do this.  While the reason is good (it keeps students safe when districts don't know who is controlling the content of those sites), it is oh so frustrating when the content is not only safe, but educational.

While some districts don't block Google Sites, they do block other elements of many breakout games, such as YouTube videos or files hosted privately.

After many frustrations with this, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own breakouts.  But, I wanted to make sure they were not only accessible to my students, but any students.  

Why Google Forms?

Reason #1 - Access for Everyone

By using Google Forms (instead of Google Sites), it ensures that all students have access to the breakout.  A Google Form (in view mode) doesn't even require a Google login or account; therefore, it can be completed by anyone, on any type of device.

Reason #2 - No Prep & Easy to Navigate

By using Google Forms, any puzzles and/or problems can be embedded right into the form.  This means students don't need to manager multiple tabs or pages - absolutely everything they need is there in one spot!  This also makes it NO PREP for the teacher! #WinWin

Reason #3 - Self-Checking Locks

By using Google Forms, the lock codes become self-checking.  Using the self-validation mode when setting up the GoogleForm, I have made it so that students cannot move on to the next lock without getting the current lock open.  If students enter an incorrect answer, they will be prompted to "try again."

Reason #4 - A Learning Record

By using Google Forms, students' names and answers will be submitted to the teacher digitally where she will have a record of all learning that can be pulled up on a single spreadsheet. This can be used to track participation and trend in skills.

What does a typical Google Form Breakout look like?

Let's take a look at my Christmas breakout as an example:

When students begin, they will have a brief introduction, setting them up for the task.

Then, there will be 4 locks to unlock - a Letter Lock, a Number Lock, a direction lock, and a Word Lock. Let's see an example from each.

Letter Lock Sample

Students must discover what present is in each of 5 boxes.  Then put the first letter of each present in ABC order to find this lock code.

Number Lock Sample

Students must find the missing number from each of 5 light patterns.

Direction Lock Sample

Students must find which direction a candy cane was passed through a grid of reindeer based on 6 clues.

Word Lock Sample

Students must find the ONE word missing on the compound tree puzzle that could be used to make a compound word with both the word before it and the word after it.

This is just one sample, but most of my breakout games are similar to this in format.  I recommend having students work on the breakouts in groups of 2-3 students.  This gives students help and support while allowing them to use each other's strengths.  If it is your class's first time doing a breakout, I would even recommend doing it together as a whole class to let students understand the format.  Once they've experienced one, they'll have the hang of it!

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