Teacher Feature: Breakout with Kristi Hafferty

Some of you may already know about our Ed Tech Library’s  kit for Breakout Edu. Breakout EDU is a collection of locks, boxes, and materials that can be used to play an immersive learning game. Breakout brings alive the four C’s, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. We have four kits available, they come to your school all set-up and ready to play. Kristi Hafferty learned about this tool as a participant at the Issaquah Technology Project (ITP) where it was introduced as a way to teach Digital Citizenship through an immersive game. Last year she and her Ed Tech Lead, Andy Hall, who also teaches mathematics at Liberty High School did one together. This year they took the next step and designed their own game! 

A love of mathematics and knowledge of Breakout EDU blended into a fantastic experience for Kristi’s Geometry students this year. Kristi created a game that used Geometry concepts, group collaboration, lots of persistence, and even some laughs. Andy helped with the design of the game, refining the clues, and even helped to set up the locks. The series of Geometry challenges led her high school students to the codes which opened the locks. Students used graphing calculators, patty paper, whiteboards, and collaboration to construct centers of triangles, midpoint, slope, and proofs. The work was not easy for students; it tested their tolerance for ambiguityperseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems. Kristi was able to do formative assessments of her class as she observed them working through the problems and when they got “really” stuck they could get a hint. The hardest part of the Breakout experience is to not give too many hints! As teachers, we want to guide our students to the correct answer, but this is an opportunity for them to try, fail, and try again.

The game was an engaging activity for the energy that her students exhibited the day before a week long break and the challenge made opening the box very rewarding. When the last lock was removed from the box, they found their quiz score of 100 percent. Students came away from the Breakout experience with lots of Geometry practice and some practical application of the ISTE Standard for Students for Computational Thinking. ISTE standard 5c reads, “Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.”

Breakout has a set of resources on their website to help with creating your own game. Interested in purchasing a kit for your classroom? Talk to your Building Tech Committee or Instructional Technology Specialist on ways that you can purchase one or more boxes for your school, then get creative!


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