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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kinder Breakout FAIL-- my First Attempt In Learning

Today I tried my first BreakoutEDU with a class of Kindergarteners. It was, well, interesting, to say the least.

We did not breakout... we didn't even get close. Students were engaged, and enjoyed the game, and there was some learning happening, but it was a bummer to have only solved one clue in 30 minutes. And while it would be easy to get frustrated with this minor set back, I am choosing to use this as a learning opportunity.

(HUGE thanks to @annkozma723 for sending me her K/1 remix of Patty Harju's game very last minute-- great game for littles!)

First off, the Successes:

  • I found a Kinder class to play with! 
    • Love when a teacher is willing to let me take a risk in their class and try something new.
  • The Kindergarteners were engaged
    • This particular learning situation had them hooked and ready to work
  • Students persevered
    • This was the first time that this class of Kindergarteners were presented this type of open problem solving. Sometimes, it is easy for students to get frustrated when they're not sure what to do, but this group as a whole stuck with it, showed grit in the face of a difficult problem and kept trying without giving up!
  •  Students got along well and tried to help each other
    • The class I was working with was at one of our sites with traditionally more challenging student behaviors. In reflecting on the game afterward with another TOSA & one of my assistant superintendents, both commented that it must have been very challenging behavior-wise with the Kinders. 
      • On the contrary-- except for one minor behavior infraction (and nothing I wouldn't expect normally in a Kinder class) they were so excited about the challenge that they tried hard to be focused and on their best behaviors!
Challenges & What I Learned:
  • Students struggled with the lack of step-by-step directions
    • Although this is the ultimate point of the game-- getting students to think more creatively and try to solve problems on their own-- I think this group needed more scaffolding up front then I provided. 
    • I would also do (or at least start) the Breakout whole class next time. Next time I think I might start by solving the first clue whole class first, so that they better understand how to think about the puzzles & challenges.
  • The box
    • They were intrigued by the locks, and so excited that all they wanted to do was play with the locks (even before they had a code to use)
    • Next time I'll keep the box up high and be in charge of trying the combinations that students come up with
  • The Kindergarten students needed more instruction on how to work together as a team
    • Although they did get along well together during the game, they didn't have strategies for working as a team on a project
    • Next time I visit a classroom of students that I don't know well, I'll come with very specific rules or strategies for working in teams
It's always a challenge to walk into a room of students that you've never met before & try something brand new with them, especially when that task doesn't look like more "traditional school work." And although the situation felt a little like a fail at first, I now see the experience as a "FAIL"-- First Attempt In Learning. I have better ideas as to how to scaffold the experience for young students experiencing their first BreakoutEDU, and am still excited about the learning opportunities that the game can provide for our littlest learners.


  1. Thank you for sharing! Breakout fails are always such great learning experiences!

  2. Thank you for sharing. I'm planning my first breakout with first graders in two weeks, so your insight is very valuable!

    1. Hi Kymm-- can't wait to hear how yours goes! There have also been some great tips from other K-2 teachers in the Twitter thread linked to this post.

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