A Farewell to Arms REVERSE Escape Room! Operation-Themed Break IN to Hemingway

Grade Levels
9th - 12th
Formats Included
  • PDF (28 Slides, 12 Themed Puzzles, 3 Page Instruction Manual)
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Imagine a class Escape Room in REVERSE. Where student teams compete to break IN to a new unit of study, teaching themselves by solving asynchronous BYOD puzzles in a race against their peers and the clock.


I've had a ton of fun designing and implementing themed escape rooms in my HS classes, but for as AMAZING as class escape rooms and tools like Breakout EDU can be (for real, they're fantastic!) -- I've found the traditional escape room to be somewhat limited when it comes to its functionality in ensuring that all students receive access to all puzzles. This posed a real challenge when using escape rooms in place of traditional lectures to introduce new content that could be delivered in such a way that every student would get the same level of access to new materials.

For summer reading, my students were assigned Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms." But rather than punishing them (or myself) with a "gotcha" exam when they return in the fall, I wanted to create a product that helped to show them "what good readers do" as they read. So I took a look at the "Operation" board game as inspiration and developed this resource as a game-changing alternative to "Death By PowerPoint."

Just like that, what would otherwise have been one day of low scores and test anxiety followed by a week of bored students and nonstop teacher lecture transformed the entire unit into a full-blown opportunity for AUTHENTIC LEARNING. Working in small teams, students are re-living the entire novel with targeted skill-building stations designed to teach the content in such a way that students take charge of their own learning AND teachers get to act as "guide on the side" to blow traditional lectures out of the water once and for all.

Think of it as a REVERSE Escape Room (or a caffeinated update on old-school "centers") designed for simultaneously teaching twelve different concepts simultaneously through asynchronous problem-solving by using devices in small groups. Capturing the fun and excitement of an escape room, while self-pacing and enriching content in a way that moves more efficiently through all of the material you'd otherwise have to cram into a traditional lecture.

Welcome to #QRBreakIn!

No physical locks to set or boxes to keep track of. With a ticking countdown and an overhead leaderboard so EVERY student will complete EVERY activity -- and find themselves genuinely excited to do so! This REVERSE Escape Room is designed to help your students “Break IN” to the world of Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms" through a series of timed challenges, team puzzles, and self-paced unit content and enrichment activities. It is designed to introduce students to key elements of setting and symbolism, plot, character, and setting by creating an themed sense of suspense, intrigue, wonder and excitement while student teams compete and self-pace their way through TWELVE separate learning center activities asynchronously, building background knowledge, exploring theme, annotating texts, deciphering symbolism, and checking with the teacher as each new challenge is completed to standard.

This game is designed as a teaching activity as you culminate or review major concepts for a unit on A Farewell to Arms. It can be reformatted for play at any time during the novel (you may consider using individual puzzles at select intervals throughout your unit). It was originally designed as a “back to school” style puzzle with asynchronous activities to review major literary analysis techniques while assessing independent novel reading -- but it can absolutely be adapted to the needs of your classroom and any juncture in the text.

This high-energy "Operation" inspired activity is 100% editable -- and requires minimal set-up. Student teams compete asynchronously in a looping three step process:
• SELECT a puzzle from the available choices by rolling a custom dice
• SOLVE the puzzle at your desk group with your teammates
• REDEEM the puzzle for the corresponding shrapnel badge

Player teams will collect new items as they solve different puzzles, with the goal of being the first team to collect all of the available badges before time expires! (If you're feeling particularly Hemingway Hero-ic, I've included instructions on how you might consider incorporating the physical copy of the Operation board game as an additional layer of gamification and scaffolding)!

Students will need BYOD or one-to-one devices with free QR scanner apps installed. There are twelve puzzles in this game, testing the following skills by using a mix of traditional handwritten notes and discussion, websites, and these free mobile apps:
• FUNNY BONE: Thematic Analysis Microlab Discussion
• BROKEN HEART: Important Quotes Graphic Organizer
• ADAM’S APPLE: Movie Trailer YouTube
• WRENCHED ANKLE: Content Quiz Quizizz
• BREAD BASKET: Timeline Tally Graphic Organizer
• RUBBER BAND: Character Analysis Google Forms
• BUTTERFLIES: Symbolism Search Graphic Organizer
• WATER ON THE KNEE: Setting Sketchnoting
• WRITER’S CRAMP: Author Biography EdPuzzle
• WISHBONE: Thematic Analysis Flipgrid
• CHARLIE HORSE: Plot Map Graphic Organizer

+ 3 page game instruction manual

+ 28 fully illustrated Google Slides with all printables and escape room activity scenario planning documents for 120+ minutes of simulation (which can be used over multiple teaching days in a row)

+ TWELVE themed puzzles that can serve as in-game activities or stand alone centers for asynchronous pre-teaching / assessment of unit content.

+ TWO ready to go, plug-and-play quiz activities using EdPuzzle (1 video with 10 questions) and Quizziz (20 questions).

*(Note: Not ready for a full-class Escape Room? No problem. Teachers can use these same interactive puzzles as stand-alone activities to be completed in small groups across multiple days of the unit! Have groups solve one or two puzzles a day to keep chasing for new operations and collecting shrapnel as you continue to explore Hemingway's text). And if you've got an old copy of an Operation board game kicking around the house, this activity is PERFECT to revisit time and again throughout the course of any unit on A Farewell to Arms or Hemingway)!

+ ONE Operation-Themed gameboard, designed to spark visual intrigue and echo the battlefield hospital setting of A Farewell to Arms.

+ ONE printable custom-themed 12-sided dice template, to help you add an additional layer of game-based fun to this classroom activity (even if you're not using the old school Operation board game)

+ Complete instructions on how to create themed Google Forms and customized QR codes for all puzzles to serve as electronic locks

+Step-by-step teacher walk-through for all activity puzzles. (Included as speaker notes on each page of the Google Slides)

+ Step-by-step walkthrough of the pedagogical rationales and instructional strategies behind each of the game's puzzles, mixing high-energy hands-on problem-solving, kinesthetic learning, and app-based gamification. A sample: "Can Lt. Henry accurately be called a “hero?” Or is he no more than a deserter and a coward? Work with your teammates to record a Flipgrid of [x minutes in length], citing text evidence from the novel to support your claim. Show the successfully completed Flipgrid upload screen to The Narrator to proceed."

+Step-by-step teacher walkthrough with sample work products and to how to set up accounts and activate all game puzzles.

+ Fully customizable Google Slides download contains plug-and-play Escape Room scenario and review game that can be put in place TODAY if your students have device access and are just starting this tour de force of a novel. Likewise, includes instructions on how to modify any puzzles to your course needs (including strategies for classes using laptops) -- creating incredible versatility and flexible re-use.

High energy, visually stunning, and fully immersive -- this is a class escape room done right. Driven by student collaboration, competition, and communication skills: it's an immersive BREAK IN activity that your classes will NEVER forget.

Good luck with your REVERSE escape room!

- John

*PS: While I really cannot say enough great things about BreakoutEDU, please note that this product is in no way affiliated with, designed for, or endorsed by BreakoutEDU. Two totally separate products with two completely different instructional aims. BreakoutEDU is run by awesome people with an fantastic class-based Escape Room product, where students collaborate with classmates to divide & conquer and break out of a themed escape room scenario. #QRBreakIN games use the same timed spirit of competitive play to "break IN" to a new unit, which ensures that ALL students have the chance to work on ALL puzzles.

Want more Escape Rooms?

Comprehensive End-of-Unit Escape Rooms designed for BreakoutEDU:
Escape Room: Death of a Salesman
Escape Room: Emerson, Thoreau and American Romanticism
Escape Room: Hamilton
Escape Room: Poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson
Escape Room: To Kill a Mockingbird

Shakespeare Escape Rooms:
Hamlet's Mouse-Trap
The Merchant of Venice: Shylock's Revenge
Romeo & Juliet

Or Break IN to a Brand New Unit with a REVERSE Escape Room using QR Codes!
A Farewell to Arms REVERSE Escape Room
As I Lay Dying: The Legend of Bundren #QRBreakIN REVERSE Escape Room (Plays Like Zelda!)
As I Dying: Tull's River Crossing #QRBreakIN REVERSE Escape Room
Ethan Frome #QRBreakIN REVERSE Escape Room
The Great Gatsby #QRBreakIN REVERSE Escape Room
To Kill a Mockingbird REVERSE Escape Room: Break IN to Boo Radley's!

Looking for a Back-to-School Reverse Escape Room?
Candy Land Themed Welcome Back REVERSE Escape Room
World Class Cup Soccer: Back to School REVERSE Escape Room!
Total Pages
28 Slides, 12 Themed Puzzles, 3 Page Instruction Manual
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 hours
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