Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Make an Escape: Digital Breakouts

Chelsee Wilson | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center

Essential Question

  • How can an authentic, technology-enriched learning environment increase student engagement and academic performance?

Learning Goals

  • Experience and analyze an authentic activity integrating technology and reflect on this experience to determine the relevant components of authenticity.

  • Identify how tools such as Google Apps and Google Suite use a component of authentic teaching.

  • Create a plan for authentically integrating a digital breakout into a lesson aligned to Oklahoma Academic Standards.

Materials List

  • Presentation Slides (ELA)

  • Presentation Slides (SS)

  • Skill Inventory Self-Assessment handout (attached, one per participant)

  • Lock Types Note Catcher handout (attached, one per participant)

  • Digital Breakout Organizer (ELA) handout (attached)

  • Digital Breakout Organizer (SS) handout (attached)

  • Digital Breakout Planner handout (attached)

  • How to Build a Digital Breakout handout (attached)

  • Computers or other devices with internet connectivity

  • Pens/pencils

Engage

Presentation Slides are attached for both English/Language Arts (ELA) and social studies (SS) audiences. Introduce the session using the presentation that best suits your attendees. Begin with the title slide, then present the essential question: How can an authentic, technology-enriched learning environment increase student engagement and academic performance?

Next, introduce the session’s learning objectives:

  1. Experience and analyze an authentic activity integrating technology and reflect on this experience to determine the relevant components of authenticity.

  2. Identify how tools such as Google Suite use a component of authentic teaching.

  3. Apply the technology in the classroom and with students in authentic instruction.

Pass out the attached Skill Inventory Self-Assessment Activity handout. Display slide 6 and lead a grouping strategy based on the Give Me Five instructional strategy. Allow participants a few minutes to read this form to use the quick point system to score their skills with regard to technology.

Once completed, move on to slide 7 and have participants pair with someone else so their total points equal 5. For example, someone who scored 5 needs to find a partner who scored 0, someone who scored 3 needs to find a partner who scored 2, etc. Once paired, participants will work together and attempt a digital breakout related to a LEARN lesson in their content area.

Provide each participant with a copy of the attached Digital Breakout Organizer handout to help them complete the digital breakout. Depending on whether you are working with the ELA or SS participants, choose the handout for your group's content area.

Explore

Display slide 13 and give participants a brief explanation of digital breakouts. Distribute a copy of the attached Lock Types Note Catcher to each participant.

Continue to slide 14 and direct participants to the digital breakouts sandbox and the digital breakouts Google Doc community resource. Give participants time to follow these links and explore the premade options and additional resources with their partners. As they do so, ask participants to use their Note Catcher and respond to the question prompts to gather their thoughts and observations about the various lock types.

Explain

Transition to slide 16. Follow the instructions on the slide to facilitate the planning of participants' own digital breakouts. Participants should:

  1. Use the Digital Breakout Organizer to help you decide on theme and clues.

  2. Use the Locks Note Catcher to help you keep track of lock types, answers, and clues.

After completing the breakout, lead a whole-group reflection by soliciting participant responses to the following questions:

  1. What was your experience with the activity and lesson? (Asked for raised hands if they liked it, then for raised hands if they didn't, and for raised hands if they believe students would like this kind of activity.)

  2. How can you implement a breakout into your classroom that aligns with standards?

Provide participants with a copy of the structured Digital Breakout Planner (attached) to help them plan the elements of their breakout. Allow time for participants to jot down their breakout ideas in the planner, including the lock types they intend to use.

Extend

Participants will now start creating their own digital breakout using the tools that they have acquired and knowledge gained in the previous sections.

Group participants based on the kinds of lock types they have planned to include. This will allow participants with similar goals to support each other.

Provide each participant with a copy of the attached How to Build a Breakout document that contains more detailed and graphics-supported instructions. This document will be useful to participants who get a step behind, want to work ahead or wish to revisit the process at a later time.

Lead participants through the process of creating a digital breakout, outlined on slides 18–25. Participants will begin by setting up a Google Site, then creating a Google Form. Next, lead participants through creating a color lock and forced copy. Each slide provides specific details on how to build the digital breakout. These steps are outlined and graphically illustrated on the How to Build a Breakout handout.

Evaluate

Show slide 27 and direct participants to the Authentic Lesson Reflection Tool found at the link shown and attached in the materials above. Ask participants to analyze the digital breakout through the lens of this tool. Have participants answer the following questions:

  1. How could a breakout be modified/supplemented to make it even more authentic?

  2. How could a breakout have been done without the use of technology?

Use the Authentic Lesson Reflection Tool to think about the ways in which digital breakouts align with the components of authenticity. Ask for volunteers to share out in reflection on this topic.

Research Rationale

Students can use Google Docs and the other Google Apps to collaborate on group projects because they can all write on one document or presentation at the same time. Normally, group work falls on one student or a few out of the group, but with Google Apps for Education, students can sit separately and contribute simultaneously. The teacher can also review the work of each student, further encouraging students to do their part during projects. Teachers can access student work at any given time to check for progress, provide feedback, review or grade assignments. A case study done at KIPP Academy of Opportunity in Los Angeles, California through Google in 2011 found that students were engaged in interactive learning and collaboration while using Google Apps. Teachers liked it because they could provide more resources at once and allow students to choose areas which best supported their work (Google, 2011).

Authentic lessons allow opportunities for collaboration, which leads to the exploration of multiple perspectives and various points of views to be heard during a lesson. "Authentic learning environments need to provide collaborative learning where, for example, more able partners can assist with scaffolding and coaching, and where teachers provide appropriate learning support" (Herrington, J., 2014; e.g., Collins et al., 1989; Greenfield, 1984). Herrington, J. et al., describes the four components in an authentic lesson as follows: 1) Students should seek to solve a real-life problem to which they would attach emotional commitment as well as a cognitive interest. 2) The problem should be sufficiently open-ended so that there are a variety of strategies for its solution. 3) The problem-solving strategies and "solutions" developed should encourage students to change their actions, beliefs, or attitudes. 4) The problem should have a real audience beyond the classroom. Authentic tasks are more worthy of the investment of time and effort in higher education than de-contextualized exercises and tasks (Herrington & Herrington, 2006). GAFE does not replace the teacher, but it is a tool to help facilitate authenticity during instruction.

Resources