Discovering new things is one of my favorite things to do! So I guess that is why I became a teacher. However, not all students share this desire. So what do you do when your students come to you unmotivated and uninterested in what you have to teach them? The good news is that there are some things you can do to make learning more fun and interesting. One of my favorite teaching tools is using escape rooms with my students.
Before I begin, I want to let you know that this information can also be viewed or listened to in video format.
I started using escape rooms when the school shut down, and I had to teach online. I wanted to find as many engaging activities as possible to motivate my students during this unprecedented time. Escape rooms did the trick. So when we went back to in-person learning, I started creating more escape rooms for the teachers in my building.
Why Use Escape Rooms?
One day, a fifth-grade teacher stopped me out in the parking lot and told me the escape room was a big hit. She said the kids wanted to stay in from recess and finish the escape room rather than play outside. For me, this is how I gauge success. If students are having fun, they are certainly learning something, even if it's learning soft skills like teamwork, communication, and critical thinking.
However, I know they are learning much more. I've talked before about how fun improves learning, but I think it needs repeating. Let's explore again how the brain works. Try to teach lessons that pass the RAD litmus test. Let me show you how escape rooms can pass the test every time.
Lessons are Stimulating
According to Study.com, in a stimulating classroom, students can move around, learn new ways of receiving knowledge, and are encouraged to question everything around them. Because of this, it's easier for them to become involved in the learning process. Escape rooms fit the bill perfectly.
For example, the teacher gives the students a folder with the resources included inside. Students time themselves to see who can solve the first lock. They then pass the teacher their answer to receive the next activity pack.
I also use a lot of my escape rooms to introduce new content. When this happens, it encourages students to come up with questions to help facilitate the learning throughout the unit and provide the necessary background knowledge students need to comprehend the content.
Lessons are Challenging
The challenge usually comes in the clues and locks since I use escape rooms to introduce or review content. Keep in mind; I typically do not use escape rooms to teach the content. However, with some students, it could be appropriate.
Some of the ways I challenge students are through the following activities:
- Putting puzzles together
- Reading passages and answering questions
- Learning content online about nonfiction information to help build background knowledge
- And much more…
Lessons are Free from Stress
I know that a lot of teachers struggle with classroom management. Group activities can be overwhelming and often avoided. I also understand that teachers worry about the students getting a bit too rowdy. However, I've learned over the years, setting expectations for group work, modeling, and practicing goes a long way in ensuring these types of activities run smoothly.
Another way to avoid problems is preparation. I include as many tips as I can to help you, but it is essential to try the escape room first, especially if you are going the digital route. Every district is different in blocking sites and information so trying things out on a student device is always best to ensure a stress-free lesson.
Lessons are Pleasurable
I posed a question on Facebook asking teachers to share their thoughts about play related to teaching and learning. Someone responded to the post asking the following, “Do you need to ask?” My response was, “Yes, yes I do.
Unfortunately, most schools don't allow play anymore. They don't say the words, but their mandates suggest that play isn't a priority. Teachers are left feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, and frankly, so are the students. So I ask the question, and I will continue to ask until things change. Something has got to give related to what's best for kids.
So I continue to create. I know not all lessons can be fun, but they can come close. With all of the technology, Internet ideas, and Pinterest-worthy strategies available at your fingertips, please take advantage of them. There are so many escape room ideas on the market. Give them a try. Your kids will thank you. Click here or the picture below for some of the ones I've created for you.