What is a Breakout Box?
Nothing prompts my students to come to school or turn in assignments as the promise of a breakout box. It is the magic wand that excites students to interact with targeted subject material and spurs them to work harder than normal. Not only that, but it encourages students with different learning styles to collaborate with every student working on the project. Why is that? My theory is that the promise of reward, bragging rights, and the excitement of each opening lock generates that intrinsic motivation that educators so often seek when assigning work. This is what it is…...
What is it?!
Have you ever heard of an escape room? Similar concept - in reverse. Instead of trying to break OUT of a locked room, students are trying to break IN to a box with a series of locks on it. Never heard of an escape room? It’s a locked room that holds a group of paying customers who must solve a series of clues in order to escape before the time runs out. For a breakout box, the teacher hides clues around the classroom each of which, when correctly solved, opens one of the locks on the box. Each of the clues are skills or concepts in the subject area that are made in such a way that they provide a combination to one of the locks. For example, if students are learning about important dates in history, a clue could be four important events and the dates they occurred listed on a piece of paper, with one digit from the date omitted. When students find (or remember) the missing digit in the date, the four missing numbers would be the combination to open one of the locks! I usually create a box with five locks and a sixth lock on a separate box that contains something else inside. There are companies who sell the entire “kit” - the box with all the locks, but you can make your own from Amazon for much cheaper. The locks I like to use are a 3-digit lock, a four-digit lock, a directional lock, a word lock and a key lock (I will explain all of the locks in detail in chapter 2). It is important that the locks are different so that the students are not confused about which clue opens which lock (although they will be anyway!). You can use more locks, fewer locks, different locks - once you get used to the concept of the breakout box, you can change it up to match your subject matter. The basic premise is this: students have 45 minutes to solve all of the clues to open the locks to the breakout box. The teacher hides the clues around the classroom and students have to find and solve the clues to open the locks.
It is available on Amazon! Follow the link below to purchase your copy: