This lesson centers on book 7 of The Hazardous Tales series, The Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale. My students are diehard Haz Tales fans, and we’ve been anxiously awaiting this next book, so I used this opportunity for us to connect our learning to the book. I’ve wanted to design a digital escape game, so this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
Students LOVED this activity immensely. I knew they were having fun with this, but the moment of glory came in the class where lunch splits our period in half. We always have to stop and dismiss for lunch and then resume after lunch. I had to tell kids it was time to go to lunch! They didn’t want to stop! Highly unusual middle school behavior.
This is a simple digital breakout that was designed for grades 6-8. There are loads of ways to make this far more complicated; however, this was my first one to design, so I started simply.
For this lesson, you need:
- Internet compatible devices (I have Chrome Books; some students used their phones.)
- Google Forms
- Google Classroom (or another way to easily share a copy of the Hyperdoc and form with them)
- Google Docs
- 25 minutes
- Students build background knowledge of the Doolittle Raid.
- Students evaluate the search results of a web search and select the most relevant site for the task.
- Students apply their knowledge of CRAAP to a web search
- Connection to previous lesson: I’d previously introduced the acronym CRAAP to help students remember how to evaluate information found online. In a middle school, when you tell students you’re going to be talking about CRAAP today, they nearly lose it. Then, when they come back a couple of weeks later for their next Library Day, and you tell them we’ll be talking about more CRAAP today, it’s just as funny. It’s also interesting to have your principal in the room observing, and thankfully, she has a great sense of humor and commented, “When did it all go to CRAAP?” I opened our lesson with a quick review of our infamous acronym.
2. Intro to Digital BreakoutEdu: Next, I introduced Escape from Mrs. Anderson’s Library: Doolittle Raid Edition. (make a copy if you like). This is a Hyperdoc I made using Google Docs. I shared this with students via Google Classroom. We read the scenario together, and I explained the basic rules:
- Wait to begin.
- Steps must done in order.
- Pairs or Teams of 3 are ok, as is solo
- Group selfie is optional, but at least post the breakout time and names; image of your group only; not an image found on the web (aka Donald Trump, Grumpy Cat, or Lil’ Pump)
In the scenario, I tried to build in as many clues as possible about the kind of website I wanted them to find, so this allowed us to talk about the relevance of the site to the assignment.
- It’s the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, hence this has been in the news.
- There is a raider who is still living; has he been interviewed?
- Here’s the article we used for the activity.
3. Guided search: We did the search as a group because I wanted to hear their thoughts on how they chose a website that was most relevant to our topic. I did allow some groups to do the search on their own, and I found I was doing a lot of re-direction and re-teaching, so I decided that the guided search was more efficient.
- How do the “clickbait” titles help them select a site?
- Students noticed that the CNN clickbait title “Doolittle Raider remembers on 75th Anniversary” led them to believe this article might be an interview.
- Why do so many of the results pass the CRAAP test, but one site is best?
- This has to do with the “relevance” of the site to the task, which specifically asks them to find an interview.
- Why not alter the search terms?
- I wanted them to see the variety of results we found with a more general search.
- If time allowed, we looked briefly at the difference in results by changing our search terms.
- What about bias?- This always came up when they realize that the CNN article meets our needs for this task. This led to great discussion about the “purpose” of the article.
- Does the article try to convince us of anything? To sway us to believe one side?
- Is it merely someone telling their experience, and is that ok?
- Can news sites show bias? Yes; Does it depend on what’s being reported? Yes!
4. Ready, set, go!
- Post the start time.
- Actively monitor groups and their progress.
- Students will be reading the article and working on the comprehension questions first. This is steps #2 and #3 in the Hyperdoc.
- I created The Last Raider comprehension questions using Google Forms in Quiz Mode. Be sure to include the hyperlink to these questions in the Hyperdoc.
- If students are working in pairs or in a team, I still preferred that each person completed a copy of the form. It’s easier for me to keep track of who completed it, especially if their ELA teacher wanted to give them credit for the activity.
- They need to “view their score” after they answer these questions. Optional: If they miss more than 2 questions, they have to complete it again.
- Google Forms does not allow a form to be posted as “view only” so here are screen shots of the questions I wrote. Create your own questions or use these. The first question is expanded in the Answer Key mode so you can see how I enabled that feature for each question. Clicking on Answer Key lets you select the correct answer, provide feedback for correct and incorrect answers, and assign point values.
Before sharing the form with students, be sure to click the Settings icon and tweak the settings for Quiz Mode.
5. Digital Escape with Google Forms
- Here is a video that helped me understand how to create a digital breakout using Google Forms.
- For every question, select the 3 dots and select Data Validation. Then, input accordingly.
- I inserted an image of a lock for each question so we had the illusion of cracking codes. Sure the toolboxes and cool locks would be super fun, but I don’t have any of those.
- I hyperlinked the Breakout in step #4 of the Hyperdoc.
Here’s how I set up each question.
#1: When was the article updated?
This helped students evaluated the site for “Currency” and practice looking for where this information is posted. I specified how the date was to be written, and I thought this would be an easy one for them, but I was shocked at how many ways students can write a date and not understand what they’re doing wrong. The “Hint” says: Check your format and capitalization.
#2: This article is relevant because it’s an interview of whom?
Again, reminding students that the site they choose needs to be relevant to their topic.
#3: What organization is the “Authority” of this information?
Students need to identify CNN as the publisher/ sponsor of the site. Students often had trouble with this one. They were confusing the author of the article with the publisher/sponsor. Both are authorities, but the clue asks for “organization.”
#4: Is an interview a primary or secondary source?
This is an easy teachable moment if students have not previously learned this distinction. The “hint” directs students to understand how primary and “firsthand” are connected.
#5: Add: the age of the survivor, the number of the anniversary, and the number of men who flew in the raid.
What’s an escape game without a math problem? It was interesting to watch how the students overlooked the word “add” and they’d list all 3 numbers, or type the addition problem. The hint reminds them they need the sum of these three numbers.
At the of the escape game, teams post a selfie and break out time. I used Padlet to accomplish this. I hyperlinked the Padlet in step #5 of the Hyperdoc.
- Create the padlet wall first. Decide if you want to moderate posts or not. I did not moderate for this, and I permitted students to be able to “like” posts. I set very clear rules earlier in the lesson for the posts. I included the steps to post on the Padlet.
- Share the link in the Hyperdoc. The padlet is only accessible to those with the link, hence only to my students.
- How to post: Students click the + to create a post; TITLE is the breakout time; They should list their names; Click the camera icon and select take photo from webcam
- The selfie is optional.
- Average breakout time was 13-14 minutes; so with 10 minutes of instruction before the games begin, this activity is the right length of time in order to allow part of the period spent on instruction with plenty of time still available for library business.
And there it is! Hope you have fun designing your own digital breakout!