I am extremely lucky to work at a school that is so focused on allowing all students, teachers and staff to truly pursue their passions. Bullis truly embraces and supports lifelong learning opportunities both on-campus through PD days and the Personal Learning Communities we have formed and off-campus through conferences and coursework. .
I have had the opportunity to attend and present at numerous conferences each year, including the recent Google Apps for Education Conference. At that conference, I participated in a session called BreakoutEDU. Breakout is a game where a small group is tasked with completing a series of interconnected challenges to reveal clues and unlock mysteries in order to win the game.
As a math teacher, this activity immediately caught my interest. First, it naturally sparks the participant’s curiosity to logically maneuver through a set of tasks. Second, it requires a high level of critical thinking skills and the persistence to power through a difficult challenge. Finally, to successfully complete the task, collaboration and communication are key—two of our core academic values. After leaving the session, I knew immediately that I was going to work on bringing this activity back to Bullis. But at the time, I didn’t realize that I would have the chance to bring this opportunity to our entire Upper School.
Before I go further, I want to go back to ways Bullis enables our entire community to pursue their interest. Just as teachers have opportunities for training and development in interest areas, students in our Upper School have the chance to pursue an interest through our Signature Programs, in the subjects of STEM, Entrepreneurship, Humanities and Global Studies, and Visual and Performing Arts. Their studies culminate in a formalized capstone project, facilitated by a mentor in their field of interest.
We recently had our Signature Programs Symposium, where students in the Capstone program presented their projects to the entire Upper School. Classes do not meet and a special schedule is created for students to rotate through the various projects.
In creating our schedule this year, we wanted to add in an opportunity for our Upper School students to get a taste of the evolution of a capstone project. This brings me back to what I learned at the Google Apps for Education Conference. The BreakoutEDU activity is completely in sync with the goals of our mission in each of the Signature Programs capstone courses; driven by curiosity and by applying complex problem solving, creative thinking and teamwork skills, students produce a final project that applies knowledge learned throughout their coursework. Similarly, with BreakoutEDU, students must work together to identify patterns and connections and apply their knowledge to explore a problem. Because the pieces of the box are so interconnected, strong communication and collaboration are essential elements to unlocking all codes and breaking out of the box!
It took a very collaborative effort, on our part, to take the BreakoutEDU from vision to reality for all Upper School students to be able to enjoy! But thanks to the enthusiasm of all the teachers involved in planning, setting up and supervising, all of our students were able to participate in this rich and fun activity!
Originally posted on: Bullis Tech Blog