The students in my 7th grade classroom in our Title I Elementary school in rural North Carolina are a close group of students that attend school together beginning in Kindergarten and remain together through 8th grade. We have a predominantly rural population and since these students have been together for so long, they have developed communication skills unlike any middle school group I have ever taught. My students have not been privileged enough to experience many of the technological upgrades students have received in other areas of North Carolina.
These students are eager to learn but sometimes find it difficult to connect with texts in English class or feel disconnected with much of what we cover in Social Studies.
I have incorporated multiple mediums of delivery to ensure the highest "buy in" from my students. We complete activities such as creating magazines to learn text structure; compete in trench warfare activity to understand World War 2, and incorporating pop culture into our figurative language unit. It makes a world of difference in test scores and discipline issues when students are engaged and interested in the topic.
Break out boxes bring the "break out room" concept to the classroom. Students will use a series of clues found through reading passages, historical context, communication and problem solving skills to unlock various locks and break in their box to "escape" the fate of their story line.
These boxes can be used between disciplines and countless times in a school year.
The first project my students will complete will involve English/Language Arts and Social Studies. In one story line, we will follow a 12 year old Jewish child through hiding from the Nazis during WW2. (Much like Anne Frank) Another story line will be a prisoner in the concentration camp who is trying to escape. The final story line will be of the American soldiers who are rushing to save the victims of the Holocaust from concentration camps before they are sent to the gas chamber.
Students will use passages, websites, notes from Social Studies class, and many skills we have developed over the course of the class in order to find the clues that will open the locks on the box.
These boxes would afford my students the opportunity to get excited about school work and experience the rewarding satisfaction of a job well done. This activity can be used at any stage of learning; introducing a topic, reinforcing a skill, or assessing the unit.
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