Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Recently we had a PD day in which we were assigned to a room with our colleagues. My particular room assignment was facilitated by our principal. He told us a story of a professor who was trying to kill everyone off, but had a serum that would save himself. He kept it locked in a box (at the front of the room) and had left clues in the room about how to open the three locks. Our job was to find these clues, open the locks so that we could "breakout" of the room. We had 45 minutes and could use anything at our disposal, including electronic devices.

That was my first encounter with BreakoutEDU. The more I reflected on it, the more I thought I could recreate this in my language classroom. To make it even more interesting and challenging, I could have TWO boxes with different clues, thus two different teams in the same room trying to find and open different boxes, not knowing if the clue they found was really intended for their box or the other box. mooohahaha

We had just finished reading ¡Viva el toro! in Spanish III so this would be great. There was so much information about bullfighting as well as other cultural tidbits we explore at various degrees of intensity throughout the book. Knowing that the students had to use different skills to solve the problem than it usually took to have a discussion in class, this was about to get real interesting! Some of the locks were numbers; others were words. I really thought box 2 was more difficult.

Out of the 3 groups, only one group was able to breakout. It was interesting to watch the students work in this different capacity. Another group wanted to keep trying to figure out the clues, just to open the box. The challenge was greater than the prize for them.

I learned a lot about myself as well. As a teacher, I really want to see my students succeed and feel success along the journey. It was really hard to not give them free hints along the way. I had to wait for them to turn in one of their two hint cards. Sometimes they got fixated on an object that had nothing to do with the clue or be so close to solving it, but just couldn't get it, even when it starred them in the face. Taking a back seat is really really hard for me. I wanted to push them in the right direction and guide their journey, rather than let them discover and explore. It's too bad our schedule is dictated by minutes and hours. It's a necessary evil, however.

These were the two boxes, the combination, and the clues to find the correct combinations to unlock the box. It was a great day in class and we all learned.
Box 1
Lock: Clue:
TOROS “seven arrive, but only one leaves” <black light written on bullfight picture on bulletin board
41001 address to the bullfight arena
Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 8.27.48 AM.png

Box 2
Lock: Clue:
ARTE- “The clue is in the view, Julio.” <black light written on bullfight picture on bulletin board
56978 km > miles river basin

Copy of the letter that the "secuestradora" sent to Julio. Some letters are changed to purple, which spell out a link to another clue.


Tenemos tu novia, Ana.
Todo está bien, pero necesitamos dinero.
Nos reunimos en Sevilla a la Plaza de toros a las dos de la tarde.
El paseíllo revela dónde está tu querida.
Cuando nos reunimos, podrán tomarla y estar con ella nuevamente.
La secuestradora


  1. Hello!
    What a great Breakout! I found it via the Facebook group that Martina set up. Can you clarify a couple of questions?
    It doesn't seem that the Bitly is working anymore... does each person have to create their own? I'm not really familiar with
    The number I see on the Guadalivir basin is 56,978km2. Am I looking at the wrong one?
    Thanks for your work on this!

    1. Hi Susann,
      Thanks for catching that! I just updated it so it should work now.