Sunday, March 1, 2020

Crack the Code: Digital Escape Room

I recently created a digital escape room style review activity for my students. Surprisingly, it was quite simple and my students had so much fun that I don't even know if they realized that they were applying all the things that they had learned. I have setup and used the Breakout EDU boxes in my classroom. The Breakout EDU boxes I used are shared by all the teachers in my district and that comes with the challenges of broken or missing pieces, scheduling conflicts, and many other things. Building your own boxes, on the other hand, can also get expensive. To eliminate all the possible stresses that came along with my desire to create a fun learning opportunity for my students, I began to brainstorm on how I wanted to setup up a digital escape room activity and "Crack the Code" was born. I like the idea of calling it "Crack the Code" instead of the traditional Escape Room because my students are not actually locked in a room and it is more of solving a puzzle or code situation. If you frequent my blog, Instagram, or Twitter feed; you know that I have a thing for using Google tools in the classroom. For this particular activity, I used Google sites, Google forms, and Google slides.

The Background 

This particular activity was created specifically for my supported group of students. I want them to be challenged without the tasks being too difficult and cause them frustration instead. I first decided what topics I would cover, then I chose the basic questions or problems that I wanted to use. Finally, I planned out how I wanted to use each question and the details.

Topics and Uses:

  • Measures of Central Tendency - Created a 3 digit code
  • Area of Polygons - Gave the location of the missing teacher with a 4-letter code
  • Converting Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages - Sent students to a particular area in the room for a clue using mad libs
  • Basic Probability - Created a 5 digit code
Since this is set up as if I was missing, I used to create a ransom note for myself. I felt the ransom note added to the fun factor. I also created a missing flyer. The students had both the ransom note and missing flyer in the team folder along with 2 tip cards, group jobs sheet, and a list of teacher's room numbers.

The Setup

After I determined the topics, questions and setup, I created a Google Sites. I embedded the Google Form and several of the puzzles/questions directly onto the Google Sites. Below you will find that I also embedded a timer with a count down so that students are aware of how much time they have to crack the code. 

I began with the task. The task is like an opener, it explained the problem that the students were expected to solve. My students were excited for the mystery.

Next, the students could read the roles and envelope contents. I believe every student having a job is beneficial to the activity running smoothly. My goal is that everyone participates and that no one tries to take over. There was a video included for the students to watch. I was in the middle of explaining the instruction for the day to the students when I was...KIDNAPPED. I set up the kidnapping to happen while I was on video to set the stage for the Escape Room activity.

Included on the Google sites is a form, images the students need to complete some of the clues in the folder, and a Google Slide. For my form, I used response validation. As seen below, response validation will show the students that their response is incorrect and will not let them move forward. 

With forms you have several options for set up, you can set it up in sections so that the students must solve the clues in order. I did not have a specific order for the students to move in so I put all the codes together with validation. You could also have all the codes on one screen but have the final code in a separate section to mimic how some Breakout Edu. games have a box within a box or one must crack one code to get to the next.

The Google slide was meant to be interactive and I wanted the students to move the items on the screen. In this activity, students were expected to move statements in a particular order to get the code. I see this being used in many different ways such as matching, putting together a puzzle, or revealing items as things are clicked/touched in the presentation.

Below you will find the Math Lib that I used. I like math libs during the digital escape rooms because it gets the students up and moving. Although this is a digital escape room, anything that sends students to a location within the classroom should be varied. I had students realize that a team found a clue behind the pillows without solving the clue. You can create variations on the Site by having one for each team and labeling them by team. You could also make multiple versions and share the link by team. My immediate solution was to have the clue take them somewhere outside of the classroom.

Tips for Creating Your Own Digital Escape Room
Some times you stumble across the perfect well put together activity on TPT and you are able to download and go. There are times that activities may not match the skills you'd like to review perfectly. For those times check out my tips for creating your own digital escape room.
  • Save a tree - Your Escape Room can be all digital with no paper involved. The items I created and printed could have also been available on the Site or in Slides.
  • Recycle, Reduce, Reuse - Laminate pieces you plan to re-use.
  • Stay organized - If you have sets, organize them in labeled folders or envelopes.
  • No need to reinvent the wheel - Use activities that you already have and make them digital. (I've used items I've created or purchased from TPT in bits and pieces to create my own Digital Escape Room).
  • Don't confuse the kids - Make everything available in one space. Since I used a form, that I could not embed in a Slide, I chose to put everything on a Site. Had I not used a form, I could have used Slides for this Escape Room.

In the end my students were successful in saving me from the bandits. Below you will find a downloadable document that I use to set up my digital escape rooms. 

 Digital Escape Room Planning Guide

Until Next Time,