Recently when I was excitedly explaining the newest BreakoutEDU I created to reinforce map reading skills, someone asked: “Aren’t you worried it [BreakoutEDU] is just a fad?” They of course were implying that the time and money I have spent developing breakouts to align with my curriculum and to engage my students was not well spent. Last year the students played two: one for Canadian Culture and another for Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas. They loved them. This summer I developed one for map skills, thematic maps, as well as one for teachers to preview the concept. I plan on creating one to go along with Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, which we read in class during Black History Month.
Last year I also used a lot of Virtual Field Trips through Nearpod to take them to all the places we were talking about. They loved these too. It took time to develop a lesson that included strong content, formative assessment, and visual engagement in one. Students who would rarely talk would take screenshots of the interesting things they saw and ask about them later. Students would be out of their seats because they could not contain their excitement over some of the images they saw and wanted to share with someone at their table. Those were the best questions/discussions. Not bad for a fad.
This brings me back to the question: what if it is just a fad? I do not just duplicate my lesson plans every year. They are constantly evolving and changing to meet the needs of my current students. So what if BreakoutEDU or Virtual Reality or gamified learning or badges are just a fad? If it is something that has research supporting it is beneficial for student learning and I have seen positive student engagement in my own classroom, it is a trend I’m willing to buy into. Which includes dedicated both a reasonable amount of time and/or money. I have a Nearpod library filled with lessons incorporating the Virtual Field Trips that get students out of their seats because they are so excited to explore and a closet shelf full of boxes and locks for BreakoutEDU. I’m looking forward to another year of engaging and exciting fads. I feel better about this trend then the standardized testing I have to administer that does not bring any joy to learning. My students are worth it.
And yes, there really is research that all of these work in education:
- Well developed BreakoutEDUs support every portion of the framework created by P21 for 21st Century Learning: Learning and Innovation Skills, Key Subjects, Information, Media, and Technology Skills, as well as Life and Career Skills.
- Case Studies about Nearpod
- Case Studies for Digital Badges