Using Escape Rooms in the Secondary English Classroom
Escape rooms are one of the most exciting activities you can do with your students. Not only does the adventure of escape rooms bring out student creativity and resourcefulness, but it also teaches students a variety of skills that they carry into the classroom and beyond: problem solving and collaborative work.
As an English teacher, I’m especially psyched with how this format lends itself so well to teaching literacy concepts without taking away from any of the fun—giving my students an engaging way of learning even when in-person classrooms aren’t feasible. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why incorporating escape rooms into lessons is beneficial across all ages, as well as providing tips on how to use them effectively in both virtual or physical spaces. So buckle up; it’s time for a thrilling journey through our ELA Escape Room!
Benefits of Incorporating Escape Rooms into ELA Education
Engaging students in the English Language Arts (ELA) classroom is often a challenge; after all, what match are we for cell phones and friend?
In the ever increasingly difficult battle for attention, I have found escape rooms to be invaluable in my toolbox, and not just for the kids.
An escape room is an adventure game in which players solve puzzles to progress and ultimately “escape” from a given situation. This same concept holds for when you transfer it into an educational context.
Students solve a series puzzles (and they don’t need to involve actual locks!) in order to break out of the room. I like to think of it as stations or scavenger hunts kicked up a notch.
Adding this exciting and popular game genre to the ELA classroom provides several unique benefits that can make learning more enjoyable and easier for students. Escape rooms encourage collaboration between classmates, promote problem solving skills and help develop creative thinking abilities while also deep-diving into challenging topics such as literature or rhetoric. Escape room activities break down concepts into small, achievable objectives that can help students gain an appreciation of their knowledge as they take tangible steps towards success – and all while having fun!
Creative Ideas for Creating an Engaging Escape Room
Creating engaging escape rooms that can be used in the ELA classroom can bring a new level of excitement to the learning process. Escape rooms have become an incredibly popular challenge for teams of adventurers and can also prove to be a fun and innovative approach for students to examine literature. An escape room requires people to solve puzzles, interpret riddles, follow clues, and use logic to move from one level or area to another. Some ideas for puzzles include:
- Sorting items into categories
- Answering questions for a close reading passage
- Matching character descriptions with character names
- Deciphering a message
- Organizing sequences of events
Here’s a quick look at one I built for my ninth graders to do when we finished reading an abridged version of The Iliad.
Instructors should look for creative ways to incorporate elements from novels and other types of literature into the puzzle design. For example, let the characters in a work become part of the mission they’re trying to solve or show how different time periods are explored in their works with various props like pieces of vintage clothing or items (with appropriate explanations).
The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating thrilling escape rooms for your ELA class – it just takes a little bit of imagination. I’ve made escape rooms as an introduction to The Odyssey, as a culminating activity for Antigone, and as a review for test prep.
Tips and Tricks for Managing an Escape Room Activity in the Classroom
Although it may sound daunting at first, managing an escape room as a teacher is easier than you think. Start by clearly communicating expectations for behavior to students. Have groups work together or let your bravest pupils go solo! When structuring clues for the puzzle, keep them subtle but clear so that your students have the freedom to explore and find their own answers. Finally, don’t forget to trust your students to move forward if they become stuck – chances are they’re closer than you think! With these easy tips in mind, you’ll be sending off adventurers in no time!
The biggest challenge I have encountered with escape rooms has been teaching students to persevere in trying to break puzzles. I use growth mindset strategies to get students to stop saying things like “this is too hard” or “I can’t do this.”
And don’t forget to applaud them when they have breakthroughs!
Takeaways from Using Escape Rooms in Secondary English Education
Incorporating escape rooms into an English Language Arts classroom may seem a bit unorthodox, but teachers who have tried it report great benefits for both teacher and student. For one thing, these interactive tasks can engage even the most reluctant learner. By helping students move away from traditional paper and pencil assessments, educators can inspire creativity and collaboration.
These activities also bring in elements of real-world problem solving – a skill that will be invaluable to students after they graduate. Ultimately, using escape rooms in secondary English education can reaffirm that learning is fun, encourage teamwork and communication, and help foster critical thinking skills.
Escape Rooms in the ELA classroom offer a unique way to engage students in the classroom while upholding core standards. Teachers can choose to use their own creativity or scour the vast selection of pre-made Escape Rooms out there. By taking into account management, setting up, and facilitation tips, ELA educators have firmly placed themselves in control of their next successful Escape Room experience.
It’s amazing how much knowledge, understanding and most importantly excitement for learning can be accomplished with this powerful interactive teaching tool. Students will leave with a better appreciation for ELA, increased engagement levels and a newfound sense of enthusiasm for school activities. By introducing Escape Rooms in the Secondary English Classroom you provide your students with an education that is both creative and innovative.
You can check out my Odyssey Escape Room and see how I structured the lesson. I used this one for my observation!