Inquiry Learning by Breaking Out of the Box

I want to introduce you to Kelly Kermode, Integrated Learning Strategist at Forest Hills Public Schools in the greater Grand Rapids area.  Kelly is an educator who has been in a number of roles for the past 16 years and is a Google Certified Innovator, Adobe Education Leader and MACUL Special Interest Group leader… along with about 15 other things. She is always looking for innovative ways to engage students in their learning to reach higher outcomes.

In late November, I visited Kelly in her native environment-that is, at a school and as usual, up to her elbows in making school more awesome for kids. On this day, she was deploying a very cool inquiry based learning adventure called Breakout EDU.

BreakoutEDU started as an idea pitched by James Sanders at the Illinois Future Ready Schools summit in 2015.  James is currently the Chief Innovation Officer, EdTechTeam.

At the keynote, James shared his idea about what are called “breakout rooms” and gave background about how they all came about. He went on to explain that there are these escape rooms around the world where you pay to get “locked in” a room with friends and try to escape by solving puzzles and unlocking codes. There was even an episode of Big bang Theory around this game.

James was with some high school students in Edmonton, Canada playing one of these escape room games and he was amazed at how engaged and hard these students were working to solve the puzzle during this game. James wanted to turn this incredible learning experience of problem solving and fun and into something that can be used in the classroom.

Shortly after, James launched the BreakoutEDU website which includes links to pre-created learning adventures and turn-key kits so you can run your own BreakoutEDU game.

Here’s how BreakoutEDU works.

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How breakouts are being used

Breakouts are being used to teach core academic subjects including math, science, history, and language arts. Each adventure has embedded standards that apply problem solving strategies within a real world OR collaborative context.

A feature of BreakoutEDU is that the quest to solve the mysteries is very much rooted in inquiry based learning where learning or solving a particular problem revolves solving a central question.

The framework of the learning game ensures that Involvement that leads to understanding, and that players are Converting information and data into useful knowledge.  The learning is centered around the process of figuring the problem out, all in a student centered, collaborative manner.  

As you watch the game unfold, you will see the learners collaborate, question, investigate, and observe each other’s thinking.  

For more information on how you too can make the magic happen in your classroom, check out these resources:

BreakoutEDU Webpage –
BreakoutEDU Facebook Group
BreakoutEDU Overview 
BreakoutEDU Interview

Ron Houtman – @ronhoutman

#breakoutedu, #experiential, #forest-hills, #grand-rapids, #inquiry, #learning, #macul

Encourage your teachers to celebrate Digital Learning day with this FREE resource


Did you know?      

❖      There will be one million more computing jobs than students over the next 10 years. (That’s more than $500 billion in salaries!)

❖      More than 50% of all projected math and science occupations are in computing.

❖      Computing jobs are among the highest-paid positions for new graduates. Yet fewer than 3% of college students graduate with a degree in computer science.

❖      Less than 20% of AP Computer Science students are women. Less than 10% are black or Latino. Crazy!

Join our upcoming event increase educational access to high-quality digital learning tools for all Kent County’s students. We want you to join us in celebrating Digital Learning Day on March 13th.

The center for Digital Learning & Policy has created a powerful web resource that we would LOVE for you to share with your teachers. This site will provide a variety of resources designed to help your teachers find an entry point for digital instruction or discover new methods for furthering the digital experience of their students.

To access free lesson plans, digital tools and resources in the areas of Digital Citizenship, Language Arts, STEM and Social Studies/Civics, visit the website here.

•      Explore free educational digital tools for all ages

•      Integrate ready-made lesson plan ideas for Superhero digital citizens, storytelling and problem-solving

•      Browse a compilation of teacher-approved online resources by grade-level

West Michigan Tech Talent includes over a dozen local leaders and local sponsors dedicated to developing (K-12), retaining and recruiting West Michigans computer sciences talent base.   The mission of WMTT is to promote and engage the community with local and national technology events that encourage learning in computer sciences. If you are looking for more ways to get students  involved in the dynamic industry of Information Technology, feel free to contact Lindsey Tilley, KISD Career Exploration Coordinator, to learn how this group hopes to reach out the education community.

#core, #grand-rapids, #learning

Do You Know About AssisTechKnow?


We have a really cool professional learning opportunity on October 9 and 10, 2014  for those of you involved in the intersection of students with disabilities and educational technology (AT).

The Kent Intermediate School District and Region 3 Assistive Technology Group welcomes educators, student teachers, PTs, OT’s, SLPs and others to learn about the latest in Assistive Technology.

Please join us for this unprecedented opportunity to view and interact with nationally recognized providers of Assistive Technology. We will have presentations from vendors, practitioners and educators all day long.

You can find more information and registration at the AssisTechKnow website.

#assistechknow, #assistive-technology, #conference, #grand-rapids, #kentisd