The Great Gatsby REVERSE Escape Room! Break IN to a New Unit with QR Codes!

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PDF (136 KB|30 Slides, 11 Themed Puzzles, 3 Page Instruction Manual, 2 timed quizzes)
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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.

So I wrote a new pedagogy for using a timed team-based competition model for classes to be introduced at the START of a brand new unit. Think of it as a REVERSE Escape Room (or a caffeinated update on old-school "centers") designed for pre-teaching eleven 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 pre-teaching content in a way that moves more efficiently through all of the material you'd otherwise have to cram into a "Death By PowerPoint" lecture.

For a sneak peek of the sort of adrenaline rush your classes can expect from this activity, check out the iMovie activity hype trailer.

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 The Great Gatsby through a series of timed challenges, team puzzles, and self-paced unit pre-teaching activities. It is designed to introduce students to key elements of setting and symbolism by creating an themed sense of suspense, intrigue, wonder and excitement for a full unit of novel study while student teams compete and self-pace their way through ELEVEN separate pre-teaching activities asynchronously, building background knowledge and checking with the teacher as each new challenge is completed to standard.

This game is designed as a pre-teaching activity early in the study of a unit on The Great Gatsby. It can be reformatted for play at any time during the novel, but it is intentionally designed to coincide with and pre-teach thematic content (without giving away any spoilers) as soon as a class has finished reading the first three chapters of the novel -- which culminates in Nick’s first experience at one of Jay Gatsby’s parties.

This "Clue" themed murder mystery activity is 100% spoiler free -- and contains:
• SUSPECT CARDS: Get to know the major players in the novel!
• OBJECT CARDS: there are nine different object cards. Player teams will collect objects as they solve different puzzles, with the goal of determining which object belongs to which character to solve the final Bonus Room puzzle!
• ROOM CARDS: There are 11 different rooms to be explored. Each room contains a different puzzle to be solved related to ch. 1-3 of The Great Gatsby.

Students will need BYOD or one-to-one devices with free QR scanner apps installed.

There are 10 rooms in this game (+ one Bonus Room), testing the following skills by using a mix of traditional handwritten notes, discussion, websites, and these free mobile apps:
• THE BEDROOM: Character Analysis Google Forms
• THE GREAT HALL: Jazz Music YouTube
• THE STUDY: Historical Context Microlab Discussion
• THE WARDROBE: 1920s Fashion Budgeting Puzzle
• THE POOL: Symbolism Flipgrid
• THE KITCHEN: Predictive Reading Google Forms
• THE LIBRARY: Theatrical Connections Microlab
• THE BAR: Prohibition History EdPuzzle
• THE LAWNS Setting Sketchnoting
• THE DOCK: 3 Chapter Quiz Quizizz
• BONUS ROOM: Major Characters / Symbols Matching Puzzle

+ 3 page game instruction manual

+ 34 fully illustrated Google Slides with all printables and escape room activity scenario planning documents for 40 - 120 minute simulation

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

*(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 Clues and collecting key objects as you continue to explore Gatsby's mansion!) This activity is PERFECT to revisit time and again throughout the course of your Gatsby unit)!

+ ONE Clue-Themed gameboard, designed to spark visual intrigue and echo thematic sense of mystery surrounding the elusive Jay Gatsby

+ ONE printable template for a game-specific ten-sided dice, designed to add an additional element of suspense and chance to this Roaring Twenties themed activity.

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

+ Two ready to go, plug-and-play quiz activities using Quizizz (Ch. 1-3 recap) and EdPuzzle (prohibition)

+ 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: "Scan the QR code to watch the YouTube video of the jazz song "Ain't We Got Fun?"
• Finish this phrase: "The rich get richer and the poor get...?"
• “The Wets” (those who opposed prohibition) often referred to the 1920s as “The Roaring Twenties,” or “The Jazz Age” -- a term coined by none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald himself. After listening to this song, what do you think this period in American history was all about for this group of people? What did they value?

Complete this form to unlock this room. Share proof of your success with The Narrator to collect an OBJECT card and explore a new room!"

+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 timeless 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 a START OF UNIT activity that your classes will NEVER forget.

Good luck with your 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. Reverse escape room 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 REVERSE Escape Room (Plays Like Zelda!)
As I Dying: Tull's River Crossing REVERSE Escape Room
Ethan Frome REVERSE Escape Room
The Great Gatsby 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
30 Slides, 11 Themed Puzzles, 3 Page Instruction Manual, 2 timed quizzes
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 hours
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