Ideas, Activities · Techie Tips

Lessons from Student-Made Digital BreakoutEDU Games in “old” Google Sites

My students have successfully graduated from, “What are we supposed to do?” to “This lock was really easy!”

A few weeks ago, I posted about my students’ initial reactions to digital BreakoutEDU (if you haven’t heard about it, go check it out!). I wanted my students to become more independent, self-directed learners who could collaborate when they felt they needed to.

When I told them that we’d make our own Breakout games rather than write a research paper, their ears perked up. “Really?” “So, we don’t have to write?”

Not exactly. I explained that they’d be divided into two groups and the topic of their game had to revolve around the research process. Their games had to “teach” the players more about research processes and writing the research paper. They had a few other parameters, but they were immediately invested. Here is the assignment sheet I gave them with their rubrics.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 4.06.21 PM

I had never done a project like this, so I learned a few things along the way as well. I realized that students needed to make a “process” chart of their locks to plan and keep track of their game map. I gave them a few examples from a similar project I did last year. The groups’ process sheets went through a good many revisions as I looked them over, gave them feedback, and made broad suggestions. We repeated this a few times until we were both comfortable with their sheets. I then gave the students editing permissions for the Google Site (we had to use “old” Google Sites so we could do some of the sneaky clues like “white” ink).

Students (and I) realized that only one student at a time could edit the website. They had to work together and communicate, checking in with each other constantly to see what their next moves were.

I spent one short lesson with them explaining how to make the locks through Google Form. The following day, I asked each of them to make a practice Google Form with 3 different locks to ensure each student could make the form in case one of their other group members was absent.

On the final day, the two groups got to play each other’s game. In 2nd block, there was some frustration and I had to reiterate that this was a trial run, that it’s only a game, and we’re helping each other improve our games with constructive, useful feedback. One student was very upset over a lock that he felt made no sense. The student who made the lock had a hard time understanding that other people will not understand the link between the clue and the lock answer. He forgot that just because it made sense to him (because he knew the answer) doesn’t mean it would make sense to others. He wanted to retaliate by making his group’s locks harder, but we discussed how these games are going to a global audience and are not to be used for evil. Because of what I learned from the reactions in 2nd block, I was able to present a mindset of “test-run” and collaboration to 4th block.

After 45 minutes, both classes came together to make revisions to their games. Students from both groups gave feedback and worked on making clues more linear or less. The next day, I walked through the games and made final suggestions for final edits. Then, I sent their website links to the teachers at my school and asked them to give us feedback as they played. I also gave the links from one class to the other and vice versa so they could see what they other classes made and provide feedback as well.


At the end of the project, I told the students I was very proud of them for coming so far. They went from “I don’t know what to do. I’m giving up” to “I’m gonna try this. Ok, well, that didn’t work. What about this?”

They didn’t get completely out of writing either. They had to learn about the research process in order to make clues and locks that reflected the topic, they had to make an “outline” of their process for the locks, and they had to collaborate to make it work. They learned through trial and error and revised, revised, revised based on various levels of feedback. Then, they wrote a more “formal” MLA style reflection on what they learned and how the games went.

If you’d like to play their games, I’ved ¬†hyperlinked them below. We’d love more of your feedback! Jacob’s Grade Revival Rikardo’s writing avenchures Athena’s Legacy Shronk’s Marsh


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