You might have heard about a thrilling activity called "escape rooms." You pay to get locked in a scary room, and you must use clues to break out. A Lamar County teacher is not only breaking out of the books and breaking into an innovative way to teach, she wrote a book to show other teachers how to use it. Holly Johnson is keeping kids excited in the classroom.
"The concept for education is similar, but instead of breaking out of a room because we have to keep them in our rooms, the students break into a box," Holly Johnson, a Sumrall teacher, said.
In Johnson's class at Sumrall Middle School, you can find students piecing together the puzzles, shining a light, or pouring over clues to pop the locks that will solve the riddle.
"Why not something fun? Why not something that engages students? Why not something that makes students excited to come to class?" Johnson asked.
It's what lead Ms. Johnson to bring the elements of mystery, suspense, and creativity into the classroom. She's teaching lessons in an unconventional way.
"You can do a break out that has math clues. If you teach science, you can do one that has science clues," Johnson said.
The students can't be locked into a classroom like in escape rooms, but they use those clues to break into a box. Teamwork, problem – solving, and patience are life skills all taught while reaching the goals of the curriculum.
"This is one of the ways where they have to figure out what is this clue? What am I supposed to do with it? Once I figure out what I'm supposed to do with it, how does that translate into getting a lock that has either numbers, letters, directions? How does it get this lock off the box that's going to help me get in?" Johnson explained.
Ms. Johnson broke out a step further by publishing a book, not only bringing creativity into her classroom, but spreading that concept to teachers everywhere.
"I got it published, and it's available for sale. I've been making sure the book is not the end of it, it's only the starting point," Johnson said. "I know that as soon as my students do a break out box, the first question they ask is when is our next one?"
It's the same question students across Mississippi can ask their teachers if they break into this book of ideas, guidance, and clues leading to the prize…students excited about learning.
"As soon as you tell students to run wild and tear up your classroom and find clues out there, they are all about it. They don't care that it's about whatever they are supposed to be working on in school. They'll be happy to do the work. That's what we're after, students excited about learning," Johnson said.
"Breaking into Breakout Boxes" is available on Amazon and on Kindle. Ms. Johnson said she is also available to provide professional development to any local teachers ready to break into this style of teaching. To learn more about breakout boxes, click here.