Our First Breakout Edu Game

This week in my 3rd grade classroom we tried our first ever BreakoutEdu game.  This game is similar to the Escape the Room places for adults.  In Breakout Edu, there are boxes with locks that have to be opened.  The locks are varied: directional lock, color lock (on an iPad), 4 digit lock, 3 digit lock and a word lock.  


The children work in teams and look for clues around the room to solve the puzzles and find the required information.  Once they think have all of the puzzles solved correctly, they get 2 minutes to try to open all of the locks.  This games provides practice with teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking and troubleshooting.


This first game that I tried was a Back to School themed game based on the book, If You Take A Mouse to School.  The premise was that the mouse came into our room and stole some of our school supplies.  Since I have 26 students, I set up 2 boxes and put the children into 8 teams.  So 4 teams worked on each box.  I purchased one box from the company (for about $100) and I created the other box myself using an ammo box and buying the rest of the locks at Home Depot and Amazon.

Clues for each lock where hidden around the room.  One puzzle required the students to use a UV flashlight to find hidden letters.


Another was a clue to the directional lock.


Do you see a clue to the 4 digit lock in this play about the book? (You’ll have to look closely)


Once clue was locked inside of a smaller box and it was a QR code to an online jigsaw puzzle that the students had to solve.


Another puzzle was a secret code where the students had to find the key to figure it out.


I did not want the students to get frustrated, so they were allowed to ask me for a hint if they were having a lot of difficulty.  Not too many had to get hints though.


They were very excited when they broke out!


I found this to be an awesome first day of school activity that the students really enjoyed!  Some of the things they liked best were being able to work with their friends, the fact that the puzzles were challenging, feeling great when they figured it all out, and being able to move around and talk while they worked.  Breakout Edu has many topic themed games for all age groups and the best part is that they are all FREE!  There is also a wonderful Breakout Edu Facebook group where teachers are sharing new games and ideas.  It is a great place to ask questions and get support.  I am happy that I found this wonderful resource and I look forward to trying another game with my students next month.

Skype with England

Today we had the wonderful experience of Skyping with our Flat Stanley buddies from England.  Mr. Holder and several of his students from Greenfield Primary School in Stourbridge, England exchanged Flat Friends with us by mail and have also been connecting with us via our blogs for the last several months.  As a culminating activity, we decided to do a Skype video conference with them to speak in person.  Each class prepared some information and photos to share about our country, school, hobbies, foods, sports, and more.  We talked for about 80 minutes and really enjoyed it.  Thanks so much to Mrs. Julia Skinner from the 100 Word Challenge Writing Prompt for bringing us together!  Check out the video below to see us in action.  We loved listening to their accents as I’m sure they enjoyed hearing ours as well.  What a wonderful way to end our school year!  Thank you!

Skype with England 2016 from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.

Playing Quizlet Live – Beta Game

I’ve been using the website Quizlet for several years now to practice vocabulary with my students.  It’s great because once I create the cards, the children can search for me and play games with them at home or at school through the app or website.  Today we had the awesome opportunity to try the Beta version of the new Quizlet Live game!  I used this team based game to review Reading vocabulary words with my students.  The game was based on a set of game cards I had in my Quizlet account.  Once I launched the game via my Quizlet account, the children went to Quizlet.live on their iPads to log in.  Students can use phones, computers or iPads to play.  They put in my game code and their name.  Then the site automatically assigned them to a team.


Teams where given cute animal names like ostrich, koala, and panda and a photo of that animal showed up on their screen.  The teams were also shown on my Smartboard.  When the students were sitting with their teammates, I started the game.IMG_5573

Each round asked 12 questions.  The same question showed up on each student’s device in a team, but the answer choices for each student were different.  The children had to read all of the answer choices between them and discuss which was correct before they submitted.


While they were playing on their individual devices, my Smartboard was showing which team was in the lead.  The first team to get all of their answers correct won the game.  If a team answered a question wrong, however, they lost ALL of their points!


As soon as one team answered all 12 questions correctly, the game shut down for everyone and they were declared the winner.  At the end of the game, teachers can see results that show what terms the students got right and which ones they struggled with.


My 3rd graders just adored this game and asked to play it over several times in a row!  It was a super fun way for them to work together to practice vocabulary words.  As I mentioned, this game is in Beta testing right now.  Only those who have a paid Teacher account on Quizlet have access.  Teachers who don’t have a paid account can go on their waiting list or get access by being invited by another teacher.  Special thanks to my daughter’s 12th grade teacher, Sharon Hartranft, for inviting me to have access and to my daughter for telling me how much the 12th graders enjoyed this new game.  I think Quizlet Live might give Kahoot a run for it’s money with this fun new game!

Watch the video below to see the game in action in my classroom.  Click HERE to get more information and instruction from the Quizlet site.

Playing Quizlet Live from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.


Book Review Using Tellagami

This week my students used the app Tellagami to create a book review about a good story that they have read recently.  They took a photo of the book to use as the background of the Gami.  Next they changed the look of the avatar, then they recorded their voice telling about the book.  They really enjoyed this project and it was a fun way to practice our listening and speaking!  To see our book reviews, click here – Tellagami Book Reviews 


Adobe Voice Social Studies Project

This week my students used the Adobe Voice app to create a digital project about either one of the Branches of Government or a National Symbol.  I love the simplicity of Adobe Voice.  Students can search for clip art or real photos right in the app.  They can add text, choose from different layouts and themes, record their voice and add music.  I find it much easier to create a video of pictures with Adobe Voice then on iMovie.  Finished projects save to the camera roll.  I had the students submit their projects to me via Google Classroom and then I was easily able to embed them in a blog post to share.  Hope you enjoy our videos!

Skype with Antartica

On Friday, we were thrilled to do a Skype with Jean Pennycook in Antartica.  Jean is a researcher who is there studying Adelie penguins to watch them lay and hatch eggs.  When we talked to Jean it was 1 pm for us on Friday but her time was 7 am on Saturday morning.  Jean spends her days watching the penguins and taking notes and photos.  The penguins have laid their eggs and the chicks should be hatching any day now.  Jean was talking to us live from the site of the nests so we could see the penguins in the background moving around.  They were so cute!!  My students were able to ask questions about the penguins and Jean told them the answers as well as explaining how scientists find out that information.   Click HERE to see some video from our Skype.  Please check out my students’ writing on our Kidblogs to learn more about Adelie penguins.  To learn more about the research going on in Antarctica, check out their website – Penguin Science.  Special thanks to Jean and Skype in the Classroom for making this free Skype possible!









Mystery Skype with Hawaii

Yesterday we traveled 4,900 miles for an exciting Mystery Skype session with Mrs. Lausensei and an 8th grade class from Punahou Middle School in Honolulu!  It was their first time doing one so it made my 3rd graders feel good to be showing the ropes to the big kids.  My students started narrowing down their location.  We found out that they were west of the Mississippi River and then that they bordered the Pacific Ocean.  They figured out that the other class did not border Mexico so it couldn’t be California.  When they found out it wasn’t Oregon or Washington state they were a bit confused.  So they asked me – Didn’t they say they bordered the Pacific Ocean?  I told them to think about what other state it could be that still bordered the Pacific.  Then Sophia said, “I’m going to ask if they border Canada because maybe it’s Alaska!”  Once they got the answer of no to her question, Isabelle said in surprise, “It’s Hawaii!”  I really enjoyed watching them put on their thinking caps and work through that.  The other class guessed our location first but we still have a fun time.  At the end, we shared our PA facts with them and they told us a little bit about Hawaii – made of 8 islands, a lot of delicious fruit, and they rarely see snow.  We told them it was a warm December so far for us and it was 55 degrees out today.  They thought that was cold as it was 78 degrees there for them.  Thanks for a great Mystery Skype session!


ISTE 2015

I just realized that I never wrote a post about my fantastic experience attending the ISTE 2015 Conference in Philadelphia at the end of June.  For me the key word this year for ISTE was relationships.  I have been collaborating online with other teachers and classrooms in all different parts of the world for about 5 – 6 years now.  The ISTE international technology conference is a chance for many of us to meet in person to  strengthen and solidify our relationships.  I am now lucky enough to have teacher friends from all over the world!

My ISTE experience started with a Global Collaboration working brunch to discuss ideas for bringing more people on-board with this initiative.  Special thanks to our friends at VIF Learning Center for hosting!  The photo below includes teacher friends from the US and 3 other countries: Australia, Canada and England.  Most of us got to know each other through the Global Classroom Project.



Our good friend Louise Morgan from Texas scoured antique stores and flea markets for several years collecting global mugs.  At the luncheon she presented one to each of us as a symbol of our friendship and our dedication to connecting our students with others around the world.


Michael, Lisa, Robyn, Barbara, Betsye, Me and Julia



My experience with relationships at ISTE continued when I was able to accompany my good friend Michael Graffin, Technology Integrator from Perth, Australia, to the ISTE Awards Luncheon where he was presented with the Emerging Leader Award.  Michael co-founded and maintained the Global Classroom Project which brought us all together.  It was an awesome experience to meet him in person!



I was also thrilled to meet Julia Skinner, retired teacher from Bristol, England and founder of the 100 Word Challenge in person!  Her blogging challenge has inspired SOOO many of my students to be better writers other the last few years.



Julie, Me, and Louise Morgan 


Besides building relationships, I also had the incredible opportunity to present at 3 sessions during ISTE!  I was humbled to be accepted when many applications were turned down.  My very favorite session was the one I presented with Michael Graffin and Julia Skinner.  Our poster session explained how students can make global connections through blogging.  We talked for 2 hours straight and we were exhausted at the end but we loved sharing ideas and meeting many new educators.

Global Blogging


I meet many other fun friends during the conference as well.


With Michael, Tina Photakis from Australia, and Donna Falk from New Jersey.  Tina and I plan to exchange cranes between our schools for International Peace Day this year.  


With Moby from BrainPop.com


With the Kahoot creators! This is a site that my students LOVE!



Amidst all of the “business” talk of ISTE, we also found some time to have fun by attending a Phillies game.  The Phillies were not playing their best at that time but the out of town folks enjoyed the stadium and the experience (including hot dogs and water ice).  I found myself sitting between an Australian and 2 British friends trying to explain the game of American baseball!  I did the best I could being more of a football girl myself (Go Eagles).  It sure wasn’t easy to explain a balk!



We finished up the conference with a Global Classroom dinner and a promise to keep up our online connections with students and to meet again in person someday!


After the conference, I had the pleasure of touring Philadelphia with Michael Graffin a bit before he left the area.  We visited the Eastern State Penitentiary, went to Penn’s Landing and took a walk over the Ben Franklin Bridge.  Sometimes it takes an out of towner to open our eyes to the amazing sites we have in our own backyard.

Thanks ISTE for the chance to build relationships and become better teachers!  It was an amazing experience to be amidst 10,000 plus teachers who are all as passionate as I am about teaching.





Global Project – If You Learned Here

If you learned here cover


Earlier this month, my students and I finished up a new global project called If You Learned Here.  There were 77 schools from 21 countries who took part.  Each week for 4 weeks, the students created short videos to answer specific questions that were posted on the project blog.  We used a great new digital tool called FlipGrid to do that.  FlipGrid does have a monthly fee to use it, but since the project creators subscribed to it and set it up, there was no cost to us to leave our video reply.  I separated my students into 4 groups of 6 students and each group was in charge of a different video.  We shared information about our school, community, curriculum, books that we like to read, etc.  As an added bonus, if classrooms had extra time, they could also post photos to Padlets that were set up on different topics.   Please visit the If You Learned Here Blog to see our FlipGrids and Padlets.  My classroom posted to the blue cohort.  As a culminating activity, we created a Global ebook.  Each classroom was invited to create 2 pages for the book.  All of the pages were compiled into one book using Book Creator.   The Global ebook can also be viewed and downloaded from the project blog.  My students and I had just as much fun reading the global book as we had taking part in the project.  Click this link to see our last FlipGrid submission which was a reflection about what we liked the most in this project.  We had a great time and I look forward to doing it again next year if it is offered.  Not only did we make connections and learn a lot about different countries, but I also enjoyed using new technologies as well.  Thanks so much to Mary Morgan Ryan and Carolyn Skibba for running a top notch project!  My students and I greatly appreciate all of your hard work!



Photo is the cover of our ebook and was made by the creators.