First Digital Breakout: The Journey

By Dawn Frier (7th,8th Grade Math and Science Teacher)

(The original post is from Dawn's new blog and she let us post it here so other Formative teachers can learn from how she used Formative for her first Breakout ! You can bookmark her blog as a great resource for all things "Math and for Math" and follow her on Twitter (@MrsFrier)!

I have been interested in the idea since I first saw it at the KW Google Summit last April.  I couldn't get into the session but found the idea intriguing.  I investigated getting an actual box but I have so much stuff already and the price caused a bit of a pause so I put it on the back burner.

Last weekend I was asked if I'd heard of a Breakout activity that was digital.  I had, but decided to investigate further.  Once I learned a little bit by reading I decided to try and make one for my grade 8 Math classes about Integers.  I think I had as much fun making it as they did trying to solve it!

Tools & Resources Used

The tools, videos and resources listed at were helpful.  I used the Ransomizer, FakeTextMessage and the FakeReceiptMaker.  I already use Blogger so decided to use that to display those last two items as they are better seen in colour and the students can zoom in if necessary to see better.  I also used several forms to create digital locks by utilizing the Data Validation function. The old fashioned paper and pencil were also used.  I finally had them go to GoFormative so that I could watch and respond live with clues one question at a time that they need to find "the gang".

Here is how it lays out:

One of the Text Messages

One of the Text Messages

1. A Google Form with some questIons to get them warmed up. When they have answered them correctly and submitted the  form, then they will get the link to a web page with the next clues. 

2. On the Web Page: they will find the receipt and a web page taking them to the next form with the digital locks that they can solve with the information from the web page. 

3. Once this one is submitted correctly, they need to go elsewhere in the school based on the clues given and find the paper with the next piece. 

4. The questions on the page will allow them to solve the lock on another Google form listed on their page (in shortened form).

5. That form will direct them to a Google doc with the text messages that have the clues to solve the questions available in GoFormative assignment.  There are four questions and each one gives them one part of a location.  In this case they have to go in sequence as I won't give them the clues out of order.

6. Because mine was a "crime" involving them having to find these "people" I hid people cutouts in their final location.

7. Once they found them, they had to bring them to me, and give the location in the final GoFormative question then put them back for the next group.  That released the prize which happened to be small Gingerbread men (same shape as my people cutouts).

Reflecting On The Breakout

I realized as I was making it that I needed to actually create a document to keep track of the steps, clues and answers so that I knew where they were going and what prompts they might need when they got stuck.  I also needed to ensure I wasn't sending them in circles and that one clue actually led to the next.  

It is not perfect but it was a great experience for all of them - even the ones that didn't find the gang.  I need to change some things in the clues for the next time, but we all learned something and had fun. The engagement and perseverance seen was awesome.  

You know a task is going well when you hear "Can we do this again?" and can't get them to leave your room for lunch! Math is such an anxious subject for many and they totally love my crime solving and challenge days as they forget they are actually learning and practicing their Math skills. 

The Digital Breakout is just another one of my tools, and it was a good one and I will definitely try it again.  We will be doing a family Math night this year, and I might just have the kids create our class game as a Digital Breakout. Hmmm, .....