How I Use It
I purchased two of the physical kits with classroom funds, but there are also digital versions of many of the games. I used it in my ACT prep class to help the students review key math concepts. There was a game built specifically reviewing properties of triangles. I divided the class into two teams and had them compete to see who could solve the game first. I made sure the teams were of mixed ability, so students who were struggling with the concepts could see how those who understood them solved the problems. The game allowed for multiple chances to practice problems involving triangles. The groups were pretty large (15-16 kids each), but most students stayed engaged. Even if they struggled with the math, they could still contribute on using the answers generated to solve the puzzles to open the locks. I was able to have the groups in two separate rooms, so they couldn't see what the other group was doing and take shortcuts. If they were all in the same classroom, this might be an issue. They had fun and felt that the review was helpful in preparation for the test.
The setup is a little time-consuming, but there are videos that show how the game is played and all of the resources are in a shared drive folder. Now that I understand more how everything works, I think the setup time might be a little faster, but I would still allow about an hour for the first time. The invisible ink pens dry up, but I found some cheap ones online that worked just fine. There is a wide variety of subjects covered in both the physical and digital game versions, so I feel there is something for everyone. There is also a way for teacher-generated games to be shared on the site, so new games are being added all the time. I think this would be best used for front loading or review, but might be frustrating if used for teaching a new concept. For advanced kids, I think once they have solved a teacher-generated game, they could design one as a final unit project. It uses some higher-level thinking skills that would give the kids a challenge. I also had a chance to play a digital version in a faculty meeting, so I've also experienced the student side of this tool as well. It was a little confusing, and many teachers found shortcuts and were more focused on solving the puzzle that learning the content. I would make sure you look at several of the games generated by Breakout EDU before designing your own games so you are very familiar with how to create meaningful content and clues that are challenging but not too difficult to figure out in a limited time frame. That said, it could be used as a team building activity for any age group. Overall, it was a nice change of pace for my students that engaged them with the content and helped them learn. I would probably only do it once or twice a year or it would lose its novelty and not accomplish my purposes.