‘Breakout boxes’ offer creative learning opportunities for eighth-grade science and seventh-grade math students

Teacher with students and breakout boxessMinisink Valley teachers’ classroom creativity is shown in a variety of ways every day!

Most recently, Jennifer Zaro’s eighth-grade science classes and Andrianna Anderson’s seventh-grade math classes used “breakout boxes” to engage students in a new way of applying their knowledge.

In a breakout box activity, students work together and think critically to “break into” locked boxes. They must solve challenging puzzles and carefully follow directions to succeed using the skills of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. Students get to practice their problem-solving skills and cultivate “grit,” knowing there will be initial failures. But they also learn perseverance leads to success.

teacher with breakout boxesIn Mrs. Zaro’s classes, students had to solve science puzzles to figure out the codes in six different locks. Students are studying forces and motion, and the puzzles required them to apply their knowledge of Newton’s three laws of motion.

Mrs. Anderson used the breakout boxes as part of review for the forthcoming New York State math assessment tests. Students were given clues to unlock boxes to reveal what was inside using math.

Both teachers applied what they learned through a recent Office of Professional Learning (OPL) in-service program on breakout boxes, which provided them with additional ways to assess, adapt a learning opportunity to make it more “game-like,” build comradery in the classroom and have fun.