I teach 100 Chemistry students at one of the largest high schools in Connecticut with over 3300 students. While walking through the halls of this urban school, you can hear more than 40 different languages spoken by students. Many students do not have access to technology at home and more than 50% of my students are English Language Learners and 85% of my student are participate in Special Education. They are bright students who want to succeed in school and achieve their fullest potential but are limited by their circumstances. My English Language Learners are more likely to be failing classes because their lack in language proficiency prevents them from accessing the required content. Our special education students struggle to pass their core academic classes because many of them are not reading on grade level. In academic classes with difficult language and concepts not being a strong reader puts our students behind academically and makes it less likely for them to graduate on time.
As our school has transitioned to using the new NGSS science standards, our expectations of students have changed with the expectation that students become engineers designers and builders within our classroom.
In my class on any given day I will have between 3-8 students absent, a high rate of absenteeism directly correlates to a high failure rate. Since our school has transitioned to block scheduling our most at risk students are missing twice the amount of instructional time if they are absent on any given day. I currently teach three co-taught classes which includes some of our most at risk students for disengagement and multi- class failure. Our students skip school and often become disengaged at school due to falling behind in classwork.
During recent conversations with my students I learned that a large number of my students love escape rooms.
We have an escape room in our town and I was surprised to learn that some of my most reluctant students have completed multiple escape rooms and enjoy the challenge of the critical thinking puzzles.
Students will work together to solve puzzles and create similar mysteries involving clues and artwork for themselves to create breakout room for their peers. Our high schoolers enjoy meaningful projects that test their problem solving and critical thinking skills. The BreakOut EDU boxes will incorporate our NGSS curriculum with the fun of an escape room to engage student with 21st century learning skills.
Ideally, this project will increase attendance rates by giving students who normally play video games on the weekends more motivation to improve via a chance to play games of a different sort at school. The project will increase and promote positive relationships within my classroom and help my disengaged students connect with their peers and the chemistry curriculum.
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