How Escape Room Games Help Students Learn

escape room games

If you’ve successfully completed an escape room game before, you’ll know all about how rewarding the challenge can be. 

Now, imagine you were a little younger and managed this type of achievement in front of a classroom of your peers? Doubly rewarding! 

Escape room games have become increasingly popular over the past few years as a great way to connect with friends and as a corporate team-building activity. But what about as an educational tool for children? 

This blog highlights the learning benefits of escape room games and how they can be implemented… 

What is an Escape Room Challenge? 

Never done an escape room challenge before? That’s ok, you’re not alone. For some people, the idea of being locked up in a room and timed on how quickly you can break out of it may seem daunting. 

But all-in-all, an escape room challenge is designed to be fun, interactive, and mentally challenging. 

Each challenge involves a series of puzzles and riddles which follow a narrative thread. As you solve one puzzle, you are presented with the next, until you successfully solve the entire challenge. 

Essentially, an escape room offers a creative way for friends, colleagues, and even students to engage their problem-solving brain. Research has shown that the act of puzzle-solving is extremely beneficial for brain function and overall brain activity. 

To add to this, the mental challenge, achievement, and camaraderie involved in an escape room challenge is a great mood booster. So, how do escape room games actually benefit learners of a younger age?  

The Learning Benefits of Escape Room Games 

Aside from being a whole new way of teaching your students a new subject, an escape room challenge is a great way to install a new sense of inspiration.

Young learners are impressionable and will be inspired by the knowledge they gain through the achievement of completing the challenge. Ultimately, this will teach them to set and accomplish goals. As well as communicate effectively, learn to think outside-the-box, and be courageous. 

To add to this, escape room challenge also benefits you as a teacher. It shows that you are forward-thinking and keen to inspire your students to do better and be better. 

Here are a few of the additional learning benefits of escape room games: 

  1. All Learning Styles are Highlighted 

As you may already know, each student absorbs and learns new information in a different way. What may work best for one student doesn’t always resonate with another. 

But when it comes to escape room games, all learning styles are covered. This includes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. These games are all-inclusive and allow each student to shine in their own way.  

  1. Encourages Critical Thinking

On a normal, everyday basis in the classroom, how often would your students be exposed to instances of critical thinking? In other words, how often would they be put under pressure to think on their toes and use their logic? 

Critical thinking is super important in many real-world scenarios, especially as an adult. This is where an escape room challenge can help them to hone this skill and become better equipped at facing the ”real world”. 

  1. Sparks the Attention Span 

If you’re looking for a way to grab and hold onto your students’ attention span, then an escape room challenge is your best bet. 

These timed challenges spark the attention span and encourage students to focus to the best of their ability. This means they are far more likely to absorb and remember new subject matter in a shorter space of time, to boot.  

  1. Installs a Motivation to Learn   

There are certain elements of escape room games that are similar to video gaming and role-playing games. If there was anything your students could relate it to, it’s this! 

This means that an escape room challenge can really resonate with certain students who will be all-the-more enthusiastic about participating. Ultimately, this installs a whole new motivation to learn. 

  1. Encourages Teamwork and Communication 

An escape room challenge is not usually solved by one person alone. It encourages students to work together and pool their talents in order to solve all the puzzles and riddles in time.

Basically, this means that students have to learn to work together and communicate openly and clearly. Even if they’ve never communicated before in a classroom environment. 

This type of teamwork also allows natural leaders to emerge. This gives you a chance to leverage this peer authority to improve classroom dynamics.  

  1. Inspires Blooms Taxonomy

The point of an escape room game is to challenge all parts of the brain.

This means that your students will move past their basic knowledge of comprehension of a subject. Essentially, an escape room challenge inspires the evaluation levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Your students are encouraged to decipher which tasks are more complex and specific according to the goals they wish to achieve.  

  1. Teaches Game Design and Theory 

While some students may find this fascinating, others may not. But an escape room challenge allows students to explore the theory and design behind building and planning games. 

Today, this type of career path is becoming extremely popular and lucrative, based in the fields of IT engineering and online gaming. 

  1. Fires Up Problem-Solving Skills 

Finally, one of the most obvious benefits of an escape room challenge is firing up the problem-solving side of the brain. And in today’s world, a problem-solving, quick-thinking brain can take you very far. 

In short, these games encourage a hands-on demonstration of logical principals, and the importance of logic is never to be underestimated. 

Find Escape Room Inspiration With Think Tank

Looking to plan your own set of escape room games for your students, but not sure where to start? Allow Think Tank to do all the preparation for you! 

Check out our categories of Escape Room games for inspiration and how to implement the concept of the escape room to your classroom! 

 

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First Day of School Activities

BACK TO SCHOOL DOODLE STATIONS

This super-colorful Back to School doodle activity is a great way to learn about your students and build community. It’s a fun, creative, colorful, collaborative “All About Me” icebreaker activity! This the perfect Back to School activity that allows students to visit stations, color, follow directions, use their creativity and learn about their classmates. Students visit six stations and color in answers about their family, hobbies, food, pets, job ideas and colors. Click HERE!

 

LEARNING STYLES INVENTORY

This super-colorful Back to School Learning Styles Inventory activity is a great way to learn about your students and build community. It’s a fun, creative, color by number activity! This is the perfect Back to School activity that allows students to visit 14 questions/cards, color, answer questions about themselves, use their creativity and find out about their learning style. Students will learn if they are a Visual Learner, Auditory Learner or Kinesthetic Learner. Click HERE!

BACK TO SCHOOL ESCAPE ROOM

The Back to School Escape Room will take students on a secret mission around the classroom! This escape room has students decode universal classroom rules. This resource is the perfect first day of school activity! The Back to School Escape Room has students walking around the classroom breaking codes. Students are given a secret code name and sent on a secret mission to save the classroom. The codes include ciphers, Morse code, cryptograms, and a final 4 digit code based on the decoders/clues. Click HERE!

TEAM BUILDING ESCAPE ROOM

The Team Building Escape Room will take students on a “treasure hunt” around the classroom! This Team Building Escape Room has students decode fun puzzles using teamwork and critical thinking while trying to beat the clock. This is the perfect resource for back to school activities, team building, end of the year, ice breakers or any time! This team activity can be used in any subject and multiple grade levels! The Team Building Escape Room has students walking around the classroom solving puzzles. Students come up with a team name (directions included) and embark on a journey to find the gold. Click HERE!

GROWTH MINDSET COLOR BY NUMBER

This is the perfect Growth Mindset Activity. You can use this Growth Mindset activity to help students determine the difference between a fixed mindset and growth mindset statements. This activity can be used to build community, motivate students before a big test or as a relaxing activity for a change of pace. You can assign this as homework after students complete one of my Growth Mindset Escape Rooms or Growth Mindset Scavenger Hunt. This is also perfect for emergency sub plans! You choose what works best for you. Lastly, you could use this activity as an extension activity or for early finishers. This is a fun, colorful activity that allows students to relax and color in their answers. Click HERE!

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I am not a Pinterest Teacher Blog

With the new school year right around the corner, many teachers are busy browsing Pinterest for classroom inspiration, not for lesson plans or the latest student engagement ideas, but for the perfectly decorated room. You know, the picture-perfect classroom, where everything matches, everything has a place, everything is decorated and color-coded, from the classroom door to the freshly sharpened pencils cup. While visually, these types of classrooms look appealing, that’s just not me.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. Sometimes I feel like I’m the odd-one-out. Those Pinterest inspired classrooms make me feel inadequate, but I know deep down that I am a good teacher.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t have a rose gold stapler with matching rose gold paper clips. I don’t have fancy cactus drawer labels for every type of supply, but I’m still organized with methods that work for me.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t have one of those cutesy, vibrant colored teacher lesson plan binders, but I still deliver valuable, engaging, and effective lessons.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t have a customized notebook with my name on it to take notes at Professional Development sessions. Yet, I still take away vital information to increase productivity in my classroom.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t have elaborate, over-the-top bulletin board displays that I change with the seasons. I do have word walls, anchor charts, learning goals, and other valuable information for my students posted around the room.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t send home adorable weekly newsletters. Rest assured, I still have excellent parent communication.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t have color-coded flexible seating with pillows or yoga mats. The way I arrange my students works for me… isn’t that what matters?

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t have an elaborate reward system with certificates, prizes, or coupons for good behavior. I set my expectations high at the beginning of the year and maintain consistent procedures.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t have eye-catching mod podge wrapping paper on the front of my filing cabinets. But know that I can find any worksheet you need. My organization system works for me.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I didn’t thread decorative ribbon through milk crates. Yet my students still know where to find missing assignments.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t’ have a hand-painted, personalized, and distressed stool sitting at the front of the room. I prefer to walk around the room and engage with my students.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher. My classroom does not have a theme. It’s not a jungle theme or a polka dot llama theme or even a green chevron striped theme. When my students enter the room, they still know they are in a nurturing place where we can build skills together.

I am not a Pinterest teacher. I don’t have an organized, color-coded classroom library placed in alphabetized bins. Yet my students still have access to a wide variety of books which accommodate the many interests and abilities of my students.

Does having a Pinterest inspired classroom help me pursue more significant challenges as a professional? Does having a Pinterest inspired classroom encourage students to use their critical thinking skills?

Try as I may, I have never been a Pinterest teacher. When you enter my classroom, trust that you are not going to be taken aback by my cute theme or unique bulletin board displays. Parents and administrators don’t enter my room and gush over how I’ve arranged my room. And that is 100% ok!

I’m not a Pinterest teacher, I’m me. I’m not competing with the teacher down the hall based on the looks of my classroom. I’m not trying to outdo the fresh out of college teacher who has the press lights hanging on the wall for voice levels.
Sometimes I worry that newer teachers have formed this idea in their heads that the way their classroom looks speaks for what type of teacher they are. Nothing could be further from the truth. Teachers are pouring countless dollars of their own money into these classroom themes, flexible seating, and organizing shelves to achieve a specific look. But, looks aren’t going to get the job done.
Don’t get me wrong, if you want a cute, color-coded, organized classroom, then go for it, but don’t be pressured by the classrooms around you, to fit into this idea. I personally would rather spend my time creating student-centered lessons or researching the latest differentiation techniques.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher, but that does not make me a lousy teacher. In fact, I hold various leadership positions and have more than once received perfect evaluation scores from multiple administrators.
It is vital that we don’t forget our true purpose in the classroom. Classrooms can be cute and organized all day long, but classrooms don’t educate children, teachers do. Make sure that before you pour all your money and energy into your classroom, that you don’t forget about your students. That’s the real reason we’re here.

I’m not a Pinterest teacher, but I’m still a GREAT teacher.

Break the mold, and just be YOU!

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10 Ways to Encourage Growth Mindset Blog

Top 10 Ways To Encourage Growth Mindset In Your Students

If you are working in education, you are probably familiar with the concept of a “growth mindset.” Like many things in the world of education, “growth mindset” has become a popular buzzword, filling professional development workshops and the twitter feeds of teachers across the globe. 

Let’s start at the beginning! What is growth mindset? Made popular by psychologist Carol Dweck, growth mindset is the concept that a person’s characteristics and abilities are capable of change, growth and development, rather than fixed characteristics that cannot be changed. 

 

For example, if a child does poorly on a math test, they may say to themselves, “I’m bad at math.” A child with a fixed mindset would believe that they are bad at math and always will be. This is a characteristic about themselves that cannot be changed. 

However, if that same child had a growth mindset, after doing poorly on a math test, they may still say “I’m bad at math” BUT they would also say “I can improve!” These students believe that their abilities are not set in stone, but able to be changed. 

This has profound effects on education. As I’m sure you have experienced, any child can learn, but it is very difficult to teach a child who does not believe they are capable of learning. Alternatively, children that believe that they can learn and grow, have limitless potential!

The important role that growth mindset plays in the education of our students is undeniable, but many teachers find that actually implementing strategies to cultivate a growth mindset in their students can be a different story. 

Perhaps you are one of those teachers who believes in the importance of developing a solid growth mindset, but aren’t quite sure how to guide your students through that process. Here are 10 amazing strategies to develop growth mindset in your classroom today!

Read stories with characters who overcome challenges. 

  • Who doesn’t love a good read-aloud? Thoughtfully choosing books to share with your students gives the opportunity to teach and discuss how the characters in the story are utilizing a growth mindset.

Provide visual reminders.

  • When choosing the decorations for your classroom, selecting posters with growth mindset messages is an excellent way to consistently remind and encourage your students to believe that they are capable of growth.

Offer help, offer often.

  • Part of growing and learning is asking for help. Although it would be nice if every student asked for help whenever they needed it, the reality is many students are intimidated to ask for help. Teachers can reduce a student’s fear of seeking assistance by consistently offering to help and making this assistance as accessible as possible.

Use effective praise.

  • Instead of praising students for fixed qualities, such as “you are so smart,” offer praise when students use important learning strategies, such as “You are asking excellent questions!” or “I love the way you took time to revise your work!”

Set small goals.

  • When the end-goal is too large, students are likely to feel overwhelmed and may even give up. Instead, break down tasks into smaller goals, allowing students to experience success throughout the learning process, instead of just at the end.

Teach students about the power of YET.

  • Take time in your instruction and class discussion to teach students this important lesson: Just because they haven’t accomplished something YET, doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen in the future.

Use many different teaching strategies.

  • As we all know, every child learns differently. When you use many different teaching strategies, you will reach more students and provide them with more opportunities to feel successful in the classroom. When a child feels successful, you are solidifying the truth that learning is possible for everyone.

Teach students to track their own achievement.

  • Whether you use a data chart, a consistent rubric, or a success folder or portfolio, it is important to implement a system in which students can see and keep track of their own growth and progress. In moments of frustration or discouragement, being able to look at their own data and see how far they’ve come, can be the perfect motivation to keep going.

Incorporate cooperative learning opportunities.

  • Research has shown that students are more likely to be motivated to work and ready to learn when they are working in groups. Giving students the chance to work together is not only going to make the learning process more fun, it will leave your students feeling more successful.  Try this Growth Mindset Escape Room or a Growth Mindset Collaborative Poster!

Model a positive “growth-centered” attitude.

  • Children become what they observe. If you as a teacher consistently model a positive attitude about learning and willingness to try, make mistakes, and keep trying, your students will begin to exhibit those same qualities and attitudes.

    Growth-centered teachers produce growth-centered students. It’s always a good time to start teaching your students to believe in their potential and to face challenges head on. Take some time to try out a few of these strategies for developing a growth mindset in your classroom! 

 

Resources: 

https://www.edglossary.org/growth-mindset/

https://www.lexialearning.com/blog/6-tips-help-students-develop-growth-mindset-classroom

https://www.teachthought.com/learning/cultivate-growth-mindset-classroom/

 

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Teachers Enjoy their summers Blog

7 Ways For Teachers To Enjoy Summer Break &
Start The School Year On The Right Foot

Every teacher knows the excitement of the first few weeks of school! There is something about fresh supplies like dry erase markers that actually work and the jumbo pack of multicolored Sharpies, combined with excited and possibly nervous faces of new students, that can make the beginning of the school year feel almost magical.  Every teacher also knows how the last few weeks of the school year seem to drag on forever! The kids are stir-crazy, your colleagues are exhausted, and May quickly begins to feel like the longest month of the year. 

After months of long nights grading papers, weeks of standardized testing, and days filled with trying to meet the academic, emotional, AND social needs of every student, summer often can’t come fast enough for teachers! Once it’s here, it’s important to make the most of those precious days of Summer Break!

Tips For Making The MOST Of Your Summer Break: 

Take Time For Self-Care

During the school year, teachers typically work way more than a 9-5 job. It can be difficult to squeeze in time for yourself in between lesson planning, grading, and showing your support by attending an assortment of extracurricular events for your students.

Schedule time each week during the summer for some much needed, and well-deserved, self-care. Whether it’s booking a massage or simply going for a walk in the sunshine, take some time to restore, refresh, and take care of yourself.

Enjoy Time With Family

Amidst the school year hustle and bustle, it can be hard to find time for “fun” with the family. Balancing your teaching responsibilities and household obligations, such as staying on top of laundry and grocery shopping, doesn’t leave a lot of time to simply enjoy being together. This summer, carve out some time for family fun! Go on a picnic, see a new movie, or plan a family vacation.

Read A Book

Summer is a great time to get caught up on your reading wishlist! Whether it’s a professional development book you haven’t had time to read, a fiction story you’ve been putting off, or a mix of the two, grab your library card and enjoy reading a good book!

Reflect On The Previous School Year

It’s often said that the best teachers are reflective teachers. These teachers take time to look back on lessons they’ve taught and units they’ve developed and ask themselves, “What went well?” “What could be improved?” Grab a journal and spend some time reflecting on your own teaching practice. What were your greatest “wins” this school year? Where did you fall? Use this reflection time to create a game plan for strengthening your teaching in the upcoming school year.

Attend A Professional Development Conference

Summer is a great time to strengthen your craft by learning about new best practices and networking with other teachers like yourself. Whether you’re looking for character education opportunities, literacy tools, or cooperative learning strategies for the middle school science student, there are professional development conferences and events for every teacher!

Get Ahead and Revamp Your Plans

Being well-prepared and working ahead is an excellent way to reduce stress and ensure a smooth and enjoyable start to the school year. Schedule a couple of hours each week to revisit your lesson plans, make any necessary changes, and add new materials and activities. Come September, you’ll be thankful for the work you did in July.

Set Up In Small Chunks

As the school year draws near, it’s time to begin setting up your classroom and preparing for incoming students. There are boxes to unpack, supplies to organize, and copies to be made. Instead of ending your summer early by waiting until the last week to prep your classroom, allocate smaller chunks of time, earlier in the summer, to begin your necessary preparations. This ensures that your classroom will be ready to go by the first day of school, but the process of “setting up” will remain enjoyable rather than tedious.  You can look at what worked last year and find products that will help with the upcoming year.  Did your students love and learn a lot from this Inventors and Inventions Scavenger Hunt?  Would they benefit from this Back to School Escape Room?

For teachers, summer is a well-deserved break from the chaos, an opportunity for refreshment and renewal. It’s also an excellent time to brush up on your instructional strategies and refine your teaching craft. Use these 7 tips to get the most out of your summer vacation! 

 

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