One of our roles as librarians who support teaching and learning, is to find new and innovative ideas to help teachers and students use and engage with resources within a school library. Over this past school year, we have started to use Breakout, a game used to teach students the skills of collaboration, communication and team work. It also helps to teach the skill of using the school library to find information that links into a subject currently being taught.
From our own connections made via social media, we have followed with interest how schools in America were using this resource. Stony Evans from Arkansas had used Breakout.edu on several occasions and has even blogged about it. Our own Guille-Allès Public Library had also used Breakout during special events such at their Star Wars Day and Harry Potter night. They are also going to use it to run a whole library breakout during the summer.
It was time for us to give it a go within schools.
We borrowed the Guille-Allès breakout box and used it with a group from La Mare High who were visiting the Guille-Allès Library for a study skills workshop. This was followed very closely by a teacher training session we ran at St Anne’s in Alderney. These were so successful that we decided to buy our own breakout boxes.
We have since done several breakout sessions at the public library and we were keen to demonstrate its uses within the school library setting. Chris Beach, a history teacher at the Les Beaucamps High, regularly tweets about things he finds interesting and had come across a blog post about using the online version of Breakout.edu and expressed an interest. This was the perfect opportunity to offer our support to run a session at his school with the idea to move to the online version if this worked for him.
We arranged a meeting so that we could agree what topic was to be used and for me to explain to him how the game would work. We decided on World War 2 and Chris was delighted that we were happy to create the game for him. Julia Bichard, one of our SLS librarians, has become the master of creating our breakout clues so was asked to create something suitable for Les Beaucamps Yr 7 class. We also made sure that we booked the school library for the session too.
The day arrives
Caroline Woolston, the Learning Resource Centre Assistant at Les Beaucamps High, helped us with the setup, making sure we had a screen and laptops ready and was on hand to help students as they played the game. We shelved the books we were using as clues (this is done at the last minute so that the books don’t disappear before the game is played).
Chris had told his students that they were going to try something new and when they arrived in the school library they were very nervous. One was heard to say ‘I am a little scared of this’. Luckily, we were able to reassure them that they were going to have fun.
We started with an explanation of some of the tools that they would need to use in order to answer some of the questions. Elizabeth, Head of SLS, gave them an overview of how to access Eclipse.net, their school library catalogue and also how to access Britannica online. Then Julia explained the game. They were split into two teams and then they had to organise themselves. There were 4 locks to open so ideally they should split into teams within their team and work on a lock each.
We then set a 30-minute timer and let them get on with it. The first few minutes always seem slow. They are trying to work out what they are doing and take a little while to organise themselves but then after that there is always a buzz of students trying to work out different clues. The following pictures were taken as the game played out. Look at how many students are engaged and doing something.
They managed to finish with nearly 4mins to spare, finding lolly pops inside the final box.
We used the final few minutes of the lesson to ask them for feedback. All had enjoyed it and one was heard to say “it was the best thing they had done all year!” What else can we say…