Monday, 16 January 2017

Google Breakout EDU-Escape Room in a Box!

I first heard of "Google Breakout EDU" at the Google Edtech Team's conference. I was lucky enough to participate in a session lead by James Sanders who devised a number of the activities on their website. Today was my first time facilitating a session for teachers and students.

The Breakout EDU Kit

What is Breakout EDU?
Breakout EDU is a like an "escape room in a box". If you've never done an escape room, consider finding one in your area for a fun night out with friends. Basically, you have to collectively problem solve your way "out" of the room using the clues and skills in the room.

Participants sift through ciphers, and information to open the box
How Does This Connect to Education?
The breakout EDU website (see link here) has been steadily growing with a number of games focused around a theme and also for grade level or subject area. I facilitated a session this morning for teachers as practice for our student counsel conference entitled "Dr. Bore and the Quest for Hope" which hinges on a middle school science environmental protection theme for an upcoming conference we are hosting.

Students and teachers look for clues on printable sheets. 


What Resources Do I Need?
After you've chosen an adventure, the activities have hyperlinks to reproducible, and a folder will be fine for keeping them together. The kit is just over $100 through their official website and has all the materials available (unique locks, UV light pen, etc) and the cost is commensurate with buying the components individually. A time clock is also handy to have playing in the background.

A time clock add to the gamification element. 

Tips on Facilitation
It helps to be a participant in an escape room before facilitating it. It's easy to become frustrated and a good facilitator reads the pulse of the group dynamic when knowing when to chime in, and back off. If clues are not being solved in a way that gives groups success, gentle give suggestions without solving the puzzle outright.

Debriefing the experience is vital. The thrill and exhilaration of opening the box is great, but reflecting on it is will better ensure retention of grit and tenacity. Some suggestions:

  • How did leadership emerge? 
  • What was the most difficult part of the game? How did you overcome it?
  • Was everyones suggestions listened to and considered?
  • Where there any important clues offered by some of the quiet students? 
  • What did you learn about this content area? 



Sunday, 8 January 2017

Google Brings Back Citation in Google Docs

Happy new year! One of the biggest changes to Google docs last year was the elimination of the "research" tool for the "explore" tab under the tools tab which got rid of the ability to cite web content with APA and MLA formatting.



After a huge community outpouring, Google has brought back the citation capabilities under the new "Explore" tab. Simply click on the triple dots (as shown above) to select the preferred citation format and cite as footnotes.