You can build engagement in your classroom with escape activities.
What is engagement?
Engaging students is the result of a lot more than just coincidence. It is the product of 3 specific ingredients:
- Intellectual Curiosity. Curious students are more motivated to learn and experience more connection to the content. The NGSS encourages the use of phenomena to build curiosity.
- Appropriately challenging material. If the work you’re asking students to do is too easy or too difficult, they will be frustrated and bored and unengaged. Work that is appropriately leveled for your students will help them remain engaged.
- Rewards. Engaging activities often reward participants along the way – In casinos, slot machines are fun because they provide variable rewards – 3 coins one time, 10 coins another time, zero coins most of the time. In the viral phenomenon Fortnite, rewards such as boxes of supplies are reinforcement to encourage players to continue playing. The rate of reinforcement is variable which also helps to encourage more playing.
Why escape activities?
Escape activities have the ability to provide all three of these ingredients. Classroom escape activities are based on the escape room challenges that have become so popular over the past several years. If you’ve never been to an escape room, they are an entertainment experience in which you and your team of people solve puzzles in order to escape from a locked room. Using escape activities in a classroom helps build curiosity. If you design your escape activity with a funny theme (the evil professor has stolen the Halloween candy) or a bizarre event (escaped prisoner stole the blueprints for a museum), students will be curious to see how it plays out. Escape activities can also be calibrated to be appropriately challenging for your students. Give hints where appropriate, make it harder when students need more of a challenge. Escape activities also provide reinforcement – if you build 4 or 5 puzzles into the challenge, solving each puzzle serves as an intrinsic reward that encourages continuing the challenge.
After I introduced the first breakout, my students were hooked. They begged for more breakouts and I happily complied. The trick is to make the puzzles connected to the material you want them to learn. It’s best if the puzzles are hard enough to be challenging without also being too hard and making them frustrated.
Try your first escape activity
Are you ready to build engagement in your classroom with escape activities? If you’ve been hesitant to buy an escape activity because you’re not sure how they work, here’s a great opportunity for you to test one out for free! This full length digital escape activity reviews and reinforces weather vocabulary and can be completed by students either independently or in (face to face or virtual) groups. Click here to download your free weather vocabulary escape activity!
Create your own digital escape activity
If you’re ready to move on to more challenging pursuits, some basic beginning steps for digital escape activity creation can be found here. You can also download a free escape activity template here.