Friday, November 20, 2015

Breakout EDU and Learn like a PIRATE!

Yep! You read that right... COMPILE teachers had a jam-packed day this fall exploring the new Breakout EDU concept and Paul Solarz's Learn like a PIRATE.

(For those of you new to the idea of COMPILE--Collaborative On Mentoring & Planning Innovative Learning Environments--it is merely an open-agenda professional development time for educators who WANT to be encouraged to try new things, innovate the learning process, go beyond the proficient, and get excited about education. Mostly made up of teachers from Pre-K through 12, technology directors, curriculum directors, instructional specialists, integration specialists, and principals all attend. Sometimes students come too... The group and content are both organic in nature and meet at least twice a year. Join us sometime!)


As facilitator for the day, I set up two adjoining spaces for participants to experience the Time Warp game from Breakout EDU. For those of you unfamiliar, it's simple really -- a wooden box is locked with numerous and various, well, locks. The object is to locate and analyze various clues in the room containing the box and... you guessed it... OPEN THE BOX. Include the competitive nature spurred on by a timer, and you have a frenzy of educators who just want to win... What we all discovered in the powerful reflection that followed was... What exactly does "win" mean or look like? Opening the box prior to the end of the countdown? Finding and understanding all clues? Opening the box before another team? Reflection is indeed powerful and the greatest "take aways" prompted comparisons to the classroom when students who get all the "right answers" but don't know how they got them, when students who take longer time to complete some assignment but really understand the outcome are often under recognized, and when there is often some reward for being "first" regardless of comprehension. Conversations turned to differentiating the instruction with similar tools, differentiating the utilization of this tool, new game ideas for various age groups and content areas, the expectation of integrated technology and perhaps most importantly, the recognition of the proverbial "21st Century Skills" that our students will hone in this engaging way.

Angela, Inst. Tech, Clyde ISD: “LOVE this idea!!!! This process creates a whole new heightened level of engagement for learners!”

Six middle school teachers from Abilene ISD: “I like the aspect of the breakout. I would like to see the lessons offered, though.” {tied to standards}

Shelly, Junior High Teacher, Wylie ISD: “Breakout Edu was a fantastic new tool for my tool belt. Anything to get the students working toward a goal through as many outlets as possible is a win win.”

Stephanie, High School Teacher, Comanche ISD: "I found this workshop to be very enlightening. My mind is now swimming with ideas for implementing technology in my classroom that will facilitate a higher level of learning."

Leanne, High School and College Credit Teacher, Comanche ISD: "I thought the experience with Breakout EDU was very engaging... can't wait to learn more about it!"

Scott, High School Teacher, Snyder ISD: “The group interaction during our breakout activity was insightful as a student, a teacher, and a reflector from both perspectives. Our group was able to realize post-op that we "worked through the process" even though we did not "win".  This too was a very worthwhile peak into multiple directions that this approach can be utilized in PD with peers and possibly within our respective classrooms.”

Misti, High School Teacher, Clyde ISD: “I definitely want a box!!!! I see so many advantages to using it in my classroom!  I loved the conversations that took place before, during and after trying to open the box.”

Learn Like a PIRATE

Before lunch, participants had the pleasure of a quick Skype call with author Paul Solarz of Learn Like a PIRATE. Educators in the state of Texas know a new teacher evaluation tool known as the T-TESS has dimensions specifically focused on student-centered classrooms. This book could be a guide tool for many teachers struggling with the implementation of the concept.

Sketchnote by Melody Collier, Hawley ISD

The afternoon brought in 26 kids from Hawley ISD's theater arts class. These students performed examples of #learnLAP elements for us, demonstrating Active Learning, Peer Collaboration, etc. through, among other things, flying themselves as a jet pack. 

Students then sat with educators and discussed the things they wished their teachers knew and did... like "get to know me" and establish a relationship... Give me choice and multiple ways to learn...

What have you learned from your students?

It's your turn! Let's CommuniCATE!