Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bonus: My Virtual Favorite (TMC16 Series: Part 2)

I got home from #TMC16 at 1:30 am last night, enjoyed sleeping in my own bed, and now it is 6:30 am and I have a blog post I need to get out of my head.  It popped in there 5 minutes ago.  "I could have done a five-minute My Favorite on Breakout Edu."  It isn't that I was thinking about it while I was there and I was afraid to do it.  It's just that my head was so full, I didn't have the clarity to get my own idea.  I was so focused on everyone's else's great ideas and insight.

I have so many blog posts rattling around in my head but first I need to get pictures organized, unpack, grocery shop, all that other goodness.  This one must be written now.

So, here you go, a bonus, extra My Favorite #TMC16:  (Pretend I am standing up in front of you and speaking.)

"Hi, My name is Jennifer Fairbanks.  I teach in Hopkinton, MA which is 26.2 miles West of Boston and where the Boston Marathon starts.  My twitter handle is @hhsmath and (obviously if you found this post) my blog is  I am going to share with you a relatively new idea in education called BreakoutEDU.  NO, don't go there yet.

It started last fall when I colleague attended a conference and came back and mentioned to me, "Jen, I think you would really like Breakout Box."  But, that was it.  I didn't follow up, she didn't follow up.  Okay.  Then, on Good Friday of this year, we had a half day PD day but I took it off for religious reasons, so I did not attend.  One of our google tech people was running a session on BreakoutEDU and some of my math teacher colleagues participated.  On the following Monday, they were all talking about it, "Jen, this is right up your alley, you would really like it."

Me: "What is it?"
Them:  "Well, basically it is a box about 1 foot by 1 foot by 4 inches that has a lot of combination locks on it and you do some stuff to try to come up with the codes to get the locks off."
Me:  "Oh, that does sound cool.  How can I find out more?"
Them: "Go to BreakoutEDU (STILL NO, Don't go yet, I didn't even hyperlink it here) and there are videos and ready made breakouts to look at.  Sign up is free and they give you a password so you can get in to read them."
Me - go home and spend about 6 hours on the site.  I was like a mad scientist who couldn't get enough.  I read about the box, the materials, how am I going to do this.  I watched videos whether the breakout was math related or not, I was trying to look at possible way to provide the clue to get to the code.

Okay, so, you still don't get it.  I was doing all this research and starting to understand but I still didn't "get" it.  I had to text the original colleague.

Me:  "I still don't get it.  What's inside the box?: 
Her:  "Nothing.  Sometimes they will put signs in like "We did it!" and sometimes they might put little treats in like candy or pencils, but that's not what it is about.  It is about the process and getting into the box, working together as a group, figuring things out."
Me:  At first, I was like, really NOTHING?  I am going to spend my money on locks and a box and NOTHING?  But, okay, now I think I am getting it.  (Right, like math, it isn't always about the right answer, it is about the process.)

Back to my research.  This time focused on the materials.  It is pretty cool.  You can get a kit with the box and supplies from the site for $99.  Here's another challenge for me:  "I can find/make it cheaper than that!"  They also include an open source list of materials if you want a la carte style with links to Amazon.  I went to Amazon.  I wrote down all the prices but then drove to Lowes to get the stuff.  The guy thought I was crazy in the lock section.  I wanted to make two kits.  I wanted to try and keep one team's locks one color and the other team's another color, impossible by the way.  I left with a bag full of locks - 3 letter lock, 4 letter lock, a directional lock, and a key lock.

Now, the box, not so easy.  My husband is capable of making a wooden box with a latch but he priced it out and it was too expensive.  Enter Walmart, fishing section (remember, I love to fish), also kind of the hunting section and they have these cute little plastic boxes designed to hold ammunition that would be perfect, for $4!  Perfect, bought them.

There were a few supplies I had to break down and order from Amazon, like this one a hasp:  $5 bucks, not too bad:

I also ordered invisible ink pens and blacklight flashlight.

Okay, I think I am ready.  My brain was flowing with ideas - I could make one for my church youth group (which I did and was so fun).  I could make one about the 80s for my girls weekend away which I didn't because really, way too much work and I wouldn't have been able to play.  I could do one for Alg 1 and for Alg 2.  I decided to focus on Alg 2.  There are plenty of pre-designed Breakouts, but since I love scavenger hunts I thought I would design my own.

(Side note, our Youth Group just did a real Scavenger Hunt in Boston's historical Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market area with an organized group making it.  It was called "The Freedom Trail."  We were given clues we had to write down answers to, or collect, or take pictures of.  There were a ton of people in Boston that day because it was St. Patrick's Day weekend and it's not like this beautiful city of Minneapolis where you are so clean and civilized.  I am just in love with the city and the appreciation for bikers and walkers.  We started looking for clues and one of my youth said, "Well, we are on The Freedom Trail."  I asked how do you know?  She said, "Look down, there are bricks that line the way."  Sure enough, most bricks were going horizontally but there were three in the middle that went vertically creating the path to follow for the trail.  Who knew?  So, cool.  My team won!!)

Back to my Algebra 2 design.  We were in our trig unit.  I figured I could do it as a review day for finals and just use anything from the whole year.  You kind of have to have a common fun theme idea and a back story.  I thought a ferris wheel could be a trig equation, a rollercoaster could be a polynomial, buying concession food could be a systems of equations with some logs in thrown in.  I already blogged about the lesson so I won't go into more detail here.  Link will be below.  If you want to be able to look at the google doc, you will have to request permission.  I might have some students who read my blog ("HI" guys), but I don't want it all out there.  It is the middle of the summer, and I do feel like there is one mistake in the whole mess but I can't recall exactly what it is.  It wasn't a big one.

Okay, so NOW you can check it out here: BreakoutEDU  You will see the site is in Beta form now and they are looking for new submissions.  You will need to sign up but it is free.

And, my designed Alg 2 Breakout EDU here.

This was one of my students' favorite thing of the year on my end of the year survey.  Check this post out.

Thank you TMC16!

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