Some of my favorite days in the classroom happen when I facilitate a breakout room activity. Breakout room days are always fast-paced, invigorating, and a little bit hectic. And as fun as escape rooms are, there is always a time and a purpose for planning an escape room activity into your secondary ELA classroom.
Here are four ways to incorporate escape rooms into your ELA classroom
1. Using Breakout Room Activities as an Ice Breaker
One way to include breakout room activities in your classroom is to do so as an ice breaker type of activity during the beginning of the school year. By facilitating a breakout room at the start of the school year, you can allow students to learn how o work with each other. Also, facilitating a breakout room at the beginning of the school year is a great way to see your classroom dynamics.
One great breakout room to facilitate toward the beginning of a new school year is my Growth Mindset Escape Room. In this escape room activity, students work together as they solve a series of growth mindset-related tasks.
2. Use Breakout Room Activities as a Lesson Introduction
Another great way to use breakout room activities in the middle school ELA or high school English classroom is to use the activity as a lesson introduction. Using the activity as an introduction for a new lesson or unit, you will introduce students to new content in a fun and engaging way. Plus, since it is a group activity, students will work collaboratively and rely on one another to solve each task. Another great benefit of using an escape room as an introductory activity is that once you begin to teach the students the content using direct instruction, they will already have some background knowledge to rely on.
An excellent breakout room to use as an introductory activity is my Elements of Fiction Escape Room. This escape room activity is a great way to start a fiction or short story unit. This activity introduces the significant elements of fiction, and each task challenges students as they demonstrate their understanding of these elements.
3. Use Breakout Room Activities as Test Prep
Standardized tests are, unfortunately, a part of the public education system. And while, in many cases, the test results have no direct impact on the students, standardized test scores are vital to schools. One way to help prepare students for high-stakes standardized tests is to have students complete breakout room activities that focus on the essential skills that standardized tests assess. Not only will this make test prep more fun and engaging for students, but it is also a great way to introduce students to question stems and formats that students will see on the tests.
I have three ELA test prep breakout rooms that I designed to help prepare my students for high-stakes state testing: Nonfiction Reading Tes Prep Escape Room, ELA Test Prep Vocab Escape Room, and my Listening Skills Test Prep Escape Room.
4. Use Breakout Room Activities as a Unit Review
A final way to use breakout rooms in the ELA classroom is to incorporate them as an end-of-unit review activity. This is especially helpful if you use them to help students prepare for a final novel test or assessment. One of the reasons why I like incorporating escape rooms at the end of a unit is because it provides me with one more opportunity to see what the students know. As I facilitate the escape room, I can observe which students fully understand the content and which ones still need more practice.
One of my favorite end-of-unit escape rooms is my Lord of the Flies Escape Room. In this activity, students work through a series of tasks that challenge their understanding of the novel.
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