There aren’t any fancy graphics on this video, but I love the message that Katie Correll gives in this short presentation. I keep trying to convince my students that engineering is so much more than math and science, that’s it’s not just about following formulas and rules but about learning how to use them to innovate and sometimes even break those rules. One of my students pointed out that Katie’s message about thinking outside of the box to problem solve can really apply to anyone – not just engineers.
My usual bag of tricks has not been extremely successful at my new school, especially in my engineering classes. I didn’t bank on the fact that middle/high schoolers don’t want to appear interested even if they are – and most things that I have to share with them are apparently not even worth sitting around and appearing disinterested, judging by the steady stream of students asking to go to the bathroom.
I even tried the Hour of Code with a group. But nothing I said could convince them that making games might be just as, if not more, fun than playing them.
It has definitely been a bit humbling. Sometimes depressing. Often humiliating. I’m still trying to convince a lot of these students they can trust me, and they become immediately suspicious whenever I introduce something new into the mix.
Our high school students went on a trip last week, so the 8th graders were stuck with me. I assumed (correctly) that they were not going to want to “work” (their current tortuous project is to design something in Tinkercad) while their classmates were kayaking. So, I decided to try a BreakoutEdu with them.
I chose a fairly simple challenge since I knew most of the students had never done one before. And I dangled the idea of a reward at the end. (A couple of chocolate candy Kisses)
I had two goals for them: collaboration and perseverance.
As I set them free to look for clues, I waited with bated breath for the inevitable, “This is too hard,” or, “This is boring.”
It didn’t happen.
The challenge took them about 30 minutes. Nobody fought. Nobody gave up. Nobody surreptitiously kept taking out a phone to check Snapchat.
And no one asked to go to the bathroom.
After they finished, and we were reflecting as a class, one student said, “This is a great way to learn. Every teacher should do this!”
But the kicker came from one of my other students, someone who always tries to figure out what’s in it for her before she applies any effort.
“Can we do this again?” she asked. “And you don’t even have to give us a reward,” she promised me. As she popped a candy Kiss into her mouth.
A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page.
This year, I have decided to do my annual “Gifts for the Gifted” posts all in one week. This should give anyone who likes to shop ahead of time a good start! For yesterday’s suggestion, click here.
While yesterday’s gift suggestion could conceivably be used with anyone over 4 years old – and with groups of 2 to whatever – today’s game is a bit more limited. Turing Tumble is a game I originally backed on Kickstarter, and was excited to finally receive this past summer. You definitely don’t want to buy it for any child who is still in the “I-see-it-so-I-can-eat-it” phase due to the many small parts. It’s also not very practical to use with large groups. You can read my full review here. (It appears that it is currently unavailable on Amazon, but the Turing Tumble website has it in stock.)
So, who should receive Turing Tumble for a gift? Children and adults who are interested in machines and logical challenges would be the most likely to enjoy Turing Tumble. I personally think that it is best played with a few family members taking turns with the challenges. My experience with similar games that could potentially be played alone is that children often give up too quickly. They need adults to model the perseverance and problem-solving needed – and to cheer them on when they succeed. Quite frankly, it’s kind of fun for the adults to get some encouragement, too 😉
You can e-mail at email@example.com if you need the answers. However, I that you consider not getting the answers so you won’t help your students too much. It’s fun to do some of the challenges as a whole class so you can verbalize your own problem-solving steps with the students!
I overheard some of my students talking about a cooking show called, “Nailed It!” and decided to make my next Digital Breakout based on that title. Because we have been having a few glitches with Google Sites in our district, I decided to use Weebly to create this one. “Kaled It!” is a bit harder than my 1st and 2nd Digital Breakouts. Therefore, I thought I would give you some of the clues I just posted for my Google Classroom students: Lock 1 can be answered with “The Milk Dilemma.” Lock 2 will be found on “Shopping.” Lock 3 is answered using “Kale Pesto.” If you want to answer Lock 4, then carefully explore the “Meet the Contestants” page.
As with the first two Digital Breakouts I designed, teachers can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the answers. (Please put the name of the Digital Breakout in the Subject line.) However, I agree with the one teacher who told me that she enjoyed not knowing the answers because she didn’t help her students too much!
Feebo, Not Chee is my latest attempt at doing a Digital Breakout. Like the previous one, this one is designed for 4th grade students. Ideally, they would work on it independently. The pages are not in the same order as the clues, and there are a couple of links to external sites on this one. If you are an educator who needs answers to this breakout, please e-mail me at email@example.com
I should probably add Breakout Edu’s Seasonal Games to my “Teachers’ December Survival Kit.” What better way is there to keep your students engaged, learning, and problem-solving than sending them on a holiday quest? You can find Breakout Edu games related to December holidays at the above link.
In case you haven’t hear about Breakout Edu yet, here is my first post about the site. Digital Breakout Edu games don’t require the physical equipment (boxes, locks, etc…) that are suggested for the regular games. Don’t despair if you want to try a Breakout Edu game and don’t have the supplies. I’ve seen teachers use many creative ways to simulate the boxes and locks with found materials. The students will enjoy working out the puzzles no matter what you use!