Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ideas for Adapting/Modifying BreakoutEDU Games

If you've experimented with BreakoutEDU, you can probably relate to one of these situations:

"I want to do this game, but my students haven't learned this one skill yet."
"I want to play this game in my class, but I don't have the right locks or supplies."
"This game looks cool, but it's too easy for my students."
"I want to run this game with my students, but this website is blocked for students in my district."

Never fear - you can iterate, modify, and adapt these games for your students!  Below are some ideas on how to do this, though this is by no means a comprehensive list - use your creativity!

*Disclaimer: If you modify a game, please do not post it publicly without explicit permission from the creator, and always give credit where credit is due.  For more information, please see the BreakoutEDU Game Creator Bill of Rights.

If the game is too hard...make it easier!

  • Remove a few clues/locks to make it shorter and more straightforward.
  • Adjust reading comprehension levels by creating your own text for students with the same information or highlighting relevant information for them to read.
  • Take away any distractors.
  • Create a new math problem with functions that they know how to do that results in the same answer.
  • Use stickers, icons, or words to make it clear which clue goes with which lock.
  • Change the clue AND combination of a lock to make it simpler.
  • Use clues that involve more concrete, physical skills (jigsaw puzzles, putting papers in order) rather than abstract clues.
  • Prep your students by doing warm-ups that teach them a skill they will need to know in order to solve the breakout (such as using a cipher).
  • Hide items in easier-to-find places.

If the game is too easy...make it harder!

  • Add a couple of locks or another layer of clues to make it longer and more complex.  For example, rather than just finding the key, you could create another task that they need to complete before looking for the key.
  • Adjust reading comprehension levels by creating your own text for students with the same information, but at a higher reading level.
  • Add more distractors.
  • Create a new math problem with more complex math functions that results in the same answer.
  • Remove any hints that let students know which clues correspond with which lock.
  • Change the clue AND combination of a lock to make it more challenging.
  • Use clues that involve more abstract thinking skills and require students to put multiple clues together to solve one lock.
  • Hide things in harder-to-find places

If you don't have the right locks/supplies...improvise with what you do have!

  • Create simple ciphers to change one clue type to another.
    • Example: If you do not have the right letters, create a key where A = Z, B = Y, etc to match the letters you have available.
    • Example: If you do not have the right type of lock, create a key where up = 12, right = 3, down = 6, and left = 9 to change a directional clue to a number clue, or vice versa.
  • Use the Locks app or Google Forms with validation to act as locks if you do not have the physical lock.  For more information on creating a "locked" Google Form, see this video via the website.
  • If you do not have invisible ink or a black light, make your own or use white crayon/colored pencil as a substitute.
  • If you do not have extra lock boxes, use envelopes, pencil cases, computer bags, instrument cases (as long as the instrument is protected!), etc - anything that has two zippers will work!
  • If you are missing a file, see if you can devise a way for students to get the same information they will need through a clue you create.

If a website is blocked in your district...find another way to give students the clue!

  • First thing's first, you can often ask your IT department to whitelist certain sites that are automatically blocked through filters.
  • If the website is unblocked for teachers, consider signing on to a few devices so students can access it (if you feel comfortable with this).
  • If you cannot access the clue, print it out and hide it somewhere in the room.  If it is a jigsaw puzzle, cut it into pieces and hide the different pieces in different places!
  • If there are Google files that students cannot access because they were created outside of your domain, open the document on your account and click on File-->Make a Copy. Use that link instead.  This way, the file is in your name and originates in your domain.
  • If it is a digital breakout, create a new site in your name and copy the documents there.  This is a little more time-intensive than some of the other options listed above.
  • Reach out to the game creator, and ask if they can send you the file(s) in another format (PDF?) that can be accessed on your network.  Many creators are happy to help!

The beauty of BreakoutEDU games is that they can be adapted to fit the needs of your specific class.  How have you modified games to fit your needs?  Please leave other ideas in the comments!