To Kill a Mockingbird REVERSE Escape Room: Break IN to Boo Radley's!

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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 BEGINNING in a unit. Think of it as a REVERSE Escape Room (or a caffeinated update on old-school "centers") designed for simultaneously teaching ten 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 "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.

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 Maycomb, Alabama through a series of timed challenges, team puzzles, and self-paced unit pre-teaching and enrichment 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 towards this novel while student teams compete and self-pace their way through TEN 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 pre-teaching and enrichment activity AT THE START of a unit on To Kill a Mockingbird. It can be completed at any time during the first half of the novel, but it is intentionally designed to coincide with the first chapter of content (without giving away any other spoilers). It likewise functions as an outstanding early-in-the-unit escape room or centers activity to reteach and/or review major symbols, plot points, and thematic threads.

This high-energy REVERSE escape room activity is 100% spoiler free -- and requires minimal set-up. Teacher can provide on-the-spot intervention to help differentiate and scaffold on the fly while student teams compete asynchronously in a perpetually looping three step process:
• SELECT a puzzle from the available choices
• SOLVE the puzzle at your desk group with your teammates
• REDEEM the puzzle for the corresponding artifact card

Player teams will collect new artifacts as they solve different puzzles, with the goal of being the first team to collect all of the missing items before time expires!

Students will need BYOD or one-to-one devices with free QR scanner apps installed. There are nine puzzles in this game, testing the following skills by using a mix of traditional handwritten notes and discussion, websites, and these free mobile apps:

• BROKEN ARM: Reading Comprehension Quizizz
• THE RADLEY HOUSE: Video Reflection Flipgrid
• THE SCISSORS: Character Analysis Microlab Discussion
• BOO’S FENCE: Symbolism Sketchnoting
• DEAD SQUIRREL: Unit Themes Graphic Organizer
• THE OUTHOUSE: Video Trailer HP Reveal
• THE BOY NAMED DILL: Vocabulary Sporcle
• MOTHER’S GRAVE: Close Reading Google Forms
• ALABAMA SUMMER: Historical Impact Handwritten Notes

If students complete all nine of the activities listed above, there is also a bonus puzzle:
• MAYCOMB: Setting Sketchnoting

+ 3 page game instruction manual

+ 25 fully illustrated Google Slides with all printables and escape room activity scenario planning documents for 40 - 120 minute simulation

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

+ TEN themed puzzles that can serve as in-game activities 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 Yoknapatawpha County!) This activity is PERFECT to revisit time and again throughout the course of any To Kill a Mockingbird unit)!

+ ONE To Kill a Mockingbird-Themed gameboard, designed to spark visual intrigue and echo the childlike wonder and mystery of Maycomb, Alabama as seen through the eyes of Scout Finch.

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

+ Two ready to go, plug-and-play quiz activities using Quizizz and Sporcle.

+ 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: "Work with your teammates to read this article from The Economist, discussing the cultural legacy of To Kill a Mockingbird. Have each group member take written notes in their notebook. What are the 10 things in this article that jump out to you the most? When you're finished, submit your lists to The Narrator. But if it’s not up to par, you’ll earn 2 minutes in the Penalty Box."

+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 beloved American 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!

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Total Pages
23 Slides, 8 Themed Puzzles, 3 Page Instruction Manual
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 hours
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