Creating Breakouts is my favorite way to procrastinate. Many of them incorporate digital tools for clues, like Nearpod. There are two ways to utilize Nearpod within a Breakout: students can try to discover the five letter code to access a Nearpod or students can find clues within a student-paced Nearpod lesson. While you can embed a GoogleForm within a Nearpod, it is not good for hosting digital locks, since it clears the responses if students navigate away, but that is the only weakness.
You have to use backwards design – the last part of the puzzle has to be created first. In class, I daisy chain the Nearpods, one is interwoven with another one. For the sake of this post, I just created a single Nearpod to host all the examples together. There is also a single Google Form to see how the digital locks work. I apologize that many of the examples involve latitude and longitude, as a geography teacher, that is how my breakout brainstorms work. Don’t worry, there is a Flocabulary video incorporated to give you a refresher and a clue.
If you are working on clues that will lead students to the five letter Nearpod code, you want clues that can be easily modified for each additional Nearpod Code you generate. Luckily the codes can be extended beyond the original 30 days, but if you use it more than one year or semester, you want to be able to quickly update it. I customize images on Canva, which allows me to edit and/or duplicate as necessary. Other potential ways to share the Nearpod code:
- A joke and codemoji: What would happen if pigs could fly?
- Jigsaw Planet with a customized image from Canva
- Cipher: BQEGX (see image on right)
The final suggestion is also solid justification for why this works. Intentionally misspelled lists: Why should you use Nearpod and BreakoutEDU?
- Creatjve use of the tool and the strategy
- Energizing and ezciting competition between groups of students
- Interesting probiem solving potential for students
- Engaging studemts to think critically
- Challanging lesson that is memorable
Once students have “unlocked” the Nearpod, they can find the next series of clues on the Nearpod. Many of the features of Nearpod lend themselves to being clues. Using the Nearpod code above, you can see each clue in action in conjunction with the GoogleForm for locks. If you didn’t figure out any of the four clues above, the Nearpod join code is: IXLNE (it’s invisible, I still didn’t want it to be too easy).
- Virtual Field Trips – easily recognizable places can be mixed with a blank map, latitude and longitude finder, or even be the necessarily emoji for Codemoji. For inspiration in places to include, check out 360cities.
- Fill in the Blank – hidden message in the blanks. It could be a secret word, number, or direction lock. It all depends on the creativity of the message writer.
- Slide Show or PDF Viewer – add a random letter or number on consecutive pages, it turns into a code
- Audio or Video – in this case I used a Flocabulary video, but I have also used music videos where the lyrics were important or fake voicemail messages
- Draw It – give students coordinates to add on grid or a map, it can be a directional lock or a letter lock if the background image already has letters. Most puzzle worksheets would work here.
- PhET lab or Desmos Calculator – give them some of the parameters, they solve it, possibly for a 3 digit code
- Websites – like Jigsaw Planet can either be a stand alone clue or information they need to solve the next clue
Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you wanted to see more of my brainstorm process for BreakoutEDU in general, check out my previous post. It also includes the GoogleDoc Game Flow Template I use to tame the chaos.