The 21st Century Classroom: Escape Room Style

“In the educational industry, the big focus in 21st-century learning is the four C’s — creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking,” says Ann Brucker, game developer, and community manager with Breakout EDU. “They are actually using all of those right now.” She is referring to the Escape Room as a way to get students involved in problem-solving meshed with curriculum content.

The Escape Room can be as simple or as complex as you wish, from an actual wooden box with multiple locks to open within the time limit to digital clues with a digital box. As education begins to integrate technology into core subject areas while capitalizing on the savvy that today’s students have, the Escape Room fits perfectly.

Solving the problems that go along with the boxes is like real-life problems that exist in the workplace or higher education. Critical thinking and problem-solving will always apply to life and learning.

Educational objectives of the Escape Room method:

  • Allow students to solve problems progressively to arrive at an answer
  • Use with any core content subjects to reinforce or teach critical concepts using auditory, visual, and kinesthetic modalities
  • Brings collaboration and communication skills to the forefront of learning in a group
  • Learning becomes dynamic instead of static and teacher-focused

While Escape Rooms can’t be used for every lesson, they can be a highlight for reinforcement and comprehension. There are a plethora of free Escape Room plans online and for purchase. Starting small and expanding as you develop confidence using the strategy can help you implement an exciting way to teach your students.

Some free Escape Room fun:

Whether you are incorporating the Escape Room into a primary classroom or into a high school class, keeping the structure simple allows the students to get used to the format. After that, you can increase the complexity if you think they are ready.

Simple format structure:

  1. Keep it simple by using what you already have in the classroom. Use free printables to start and expand as you get a better idea of how you want to proceed with Escape Room instruction.
  2. Keep the tasks consistent so that students don’t have to ask you a million questions. Once they develop a comfort level with the strategy, add in another twist.
  3. Focus on the skills you are working on in class. Don’t stray from your content even though it can be tempting when you find a truly exciting Escape Room.
  4. Use literature books, textbooks, and any other resources to develop Escape Rooms that work for your particular group of students.

The Escape Room can be applied to any subject and can seem both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Aim to start with one Escape Room activity per semester and once you have several ready to go, you can use them as often as you want to help teach and reinterpret lessons that are central to the content of your class.

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