This week was the week of Professional Developments (PDs) with my creation and delivery of Interactive Math That’s Meaningful (Horrible Title, I know) and 3 Powerful Math Routines. Each one has some amazing pieces to it that I am very proud of, and both have some areas I do not feel meet my goals. Time and reps will let me know if my feelings are accurate, and it will reveal where other holes are and where great stuff is as well. It’s pretty hectic this week, so this is just short note to remind me to breath.
With the sounds of a sharp, repeating, and blaring noise the herds of young bodies began their almost zombie like motions to their assigned classrooms. Those who were new to the school, looked anxious, schedules out and a mixture of puzzled and nervous expressions. The contrast of the mindless shuffle to class to the anxious, confused, and fresh faced ones as they avoided being trampled by the zombie herds was almost laughable. Oh to be 12-years-old again….never mind, I’m good.
Although I was there to set up the Breakout EDU game, I couldn’t help to enjoy the nervous energy of the first day of school. The timeless roles of adolescents playing its course in all of their lives and the social aspects of this age are always fun to watch and enjoy. The end of the summer felt too soon, and the beginning of this school year didn’t feel like it was upon us….but ready or not, it was shown time.
The wonderful joy of having such a fantastic middle school staff is their openness to experience, and a few days before the start of school I was asked by two eighth grade math teachers to help facilitate a Breakout EDU game for the students’ first day. It was on!
Together we came up with a plan with the two boxes we had, one in each room, one class would do odd periods, the other class would hit even periods. I would jump back and forth, facilitate one, then let them facilitate the next. We worked out how the game was set up and what needed to be done so students wouldn’t inadvertently see how to break the game.
So here we are, first period of the first day of school, and it’s show time!
The magic that is Breakout EDU took hold, slow at first, as students had to break down that first day awkwardness. As different students found and placed together the various clues, the class wasn’t going to make it, so I asked the teacher and he wanted to make sure it was successful, so I aided in small ways, and they were able to do so.
(Update 2017-09-11: The students haven’t experienced the game since the first day, and six weeks into school they are begging their teacher for another game…so I guess they did love it)
Technically I started back to work last week, and this week we begin the welcoming party for the new teachers. I am very happy and excited about the start of another school year and it’s going to be amazing fun and learning. The introductions were fast, furious, and empowering. The highlight, for me, was the Breakout EDU session as the team of 42 new teachers and a collection of our district admin worked together to breakout with almost ten minutes remaining.
In particular, I enjoyed adding some of the new locks and creating new clues for the review of some of the learnings, some front loading of learning, and some connections to the district. It was an amazing bit of fun and I think we have some converts looking forward to our district training on this concept.
An amazing teacher was inquiring about the use of BreakoutEDU having heard about it at some point. A “little birdie” in the form of one our equally amazing technology TOSAs let her know I have some of the boxes and am willing to demonstrate.
She reached out to see if I’d be available to showcase it, and we set up a time a few weeks out. Today, was the day we chose and the time, so we set it up and got it ready to go.
On a fun note, I am incorporating more of the digital locks, and using SnapChat to create more of the clues, like the one below, adds a lot more personalized fun.
One of the things that I absolutely love about BreakoutEDU is how it engages students to challenge themselves and work through difficult mathematics without feeling like it. Although I have run many games multiple times, I love that every game is unique. Running the same game, with the same class, minutes apart still produces a different experience and that is so fun.
On this day, with this group of scholars, we found that the teamwork was good, the communication worked, and the breakdown of connecting the ideas of individuals to the whole created opportunity for students to find their First Attempt In Learning (FAIL). We debriefed what went well, and what could have gone differently, we then planned what we might do better this next time and we ran the same game, picking up where we left off.
Students were more determined the second time and knowing the majority of the game, they went back at it for 20 minutes (they had 25 minutes the first time).
With time running down, they were still a little behind, and the teacher was sure she wanted them to experience success (which is usually a good default, especially the first time, I would be less likely to be flexible again). So we paused the time to clarify questions a couple of times and provide guidance to help students be successful.
Pulling together in the final few moments, the students were really good at working together to breakout of the game.