Enhancing Employability Skills through Escape Games
Written by: Jessica Zepik
“Escape Room” type games are becoming more and more popular within classrooms. They are designed to mimic escape rooms, but students solve locks to break into a box rather than out of a room. As a STEM Specialist, I encourage teachers to have students play them because escape room games are not only fun and engaging, but they give students an opportunity to practice the 4C’s of Education: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity. Each week, using Canva, I create and display a new Learning on the Loo flier in the staff restrooms. The content varies, but includes tech tips, professional development opportunities, etc. This fall, I made one advertising BreakoutEDU, which is a paid subscription to an entire platform of physical and digital escape room games. This caught the attention of our school counselor, Mrs. Leslie Davis, who was planning her upcoming guidance lessons.
“I encourage teachers to have students play escape games because they are not only fun and engaging, but they give students an opportunity to practice the 4C’s of Education: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity. ”
Each grading period Mrs. Davis leads a guidance lesson with students from every grade level, focusing on a different cluster of employability skills selected by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. She noticed on my BreakoutEDU flier that these types of games provide students with the opportunity to practice the exact skills which were the focus of her upcoming lessons. We used our own collaboration skills and planned to have a BreakoutEDU game be the introduction to her next lesson. I prepared the game by setting up two breakout boxes with identical sets of clues. In the classroom I explained to students they would be divided into two teams, and each team’s goal was to solve the clues to figure out the correct lock combinations to break into the box. Although most students really enjoyed the experience of playing the game, it was difficult for others. It is not uncommon for some students to become frustrated during these types of experiences. Having a counselor be a part of the game play was beneficial because she was able to support students, offering strategies to be successful in working with others.
When the game was over, Mrs. Davis then led a counseling lesson about employability skills. Playing the BreakoutEDU game beforehand was the perfect lead-in for the lesson because Mrs. Davis was able to reference situations from the game when discussing the employability skills. For example, instead of asking the students to think of a time when they had to work with others in a team or use communication skills, they could discuss instances from the game they just played. Mrs. Davis followed up the lessons with a letter home to encourage families to further discuss strategies for collaboration, problem solving, and regulating emotions. See examples of her first grade and fifth grade parent letters.
Overall, this was a very positive experience and a lesson combination we will continue using in the future. To hear us discuss this experience and learn more about other ways we collaborate, check out the recording of our Comprehensive School Counseling in Action live stream. Also note that facilitating this lesson does not require a subscription to BreakoutEDU. There are many free escape room games, such as those provided by Matt Miller 40+ FREE digital escape rooms (plus a step by step guide for creating your own) on his Ditch that Textbook website.