Escape the Frozen Caverns!

A perfect way to spend a snowy day of lesson planning…

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Tomorrow morning I’ve been granted the exciting opportunity to travel down to Luray, Virginia — just a stone’s throw away from the world famous Luray Caverns, and about a two hour’s drive from my home in Silver Spring, Md. — to lead a full morning PD with a team of about three dozen K-12 educators from the Page County School District. Even though the weather has been unexpectedly snowy this week, I’m super pumped to spend a Saturday “heating things up” in the professional development arena and bringing a full-blown EDRENALINE RUSH to the amazing educators from Page County. We’ve got three full hours of game-changing PD activities planned for the day!

To mark the occasion, I decided to whip up a high-energy, Luray Caverns-inspired digital Escape Room using Google Forms. Nothing crazy or ambitious — just a sort of introduction to how Google Forms can work as an Escape Room for those who might be new to the pedagogy. And so I wanted to include it here as a sort of inspiration for anyone who might be likewise interested in designing their own online “Escape Room” in about the same amount of time it would take you to create your average worksheet.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to make use of Google Forms for an online escape room, they are SUPER easy to adapt to this purpose! Forms can be super short (like the one I’ve created as a demo) or incredibly ambitious (with dead ends, looping questions that send you back to the start, etc.). But either way, they make for an outstanding addition to a 21st century teacher’s arsenal for surefire student engagement.

With a little bit of creativity, you can even make an entire day feel like a giant interactive “game board” by projecting an oversized countdown timer and map of however many chambers (read: sections of the Google Form) you’ve decided to include in your activity.

Use a free online dungeon map creator like Donjon to generate a visual dungeon map in 30 seconds or less.

Throw in intermittent success screens in your Google Form to instruct players when and where to move their player tokens and get a feel for their progress as they make their way through the different stages of your electronic escape room using something as simple as sticky notes (or, if you’re feeling more ambitious, personalized avatar playing cards in little plastic protector sleeves with magnets inside) — and you’ll get a clear sense of who is making their way through the activity the fastest and who’s still in need of some scaffolding or support.

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Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife, Laura, a high school music teacher and fellow graduate of The Catholic University of America, and a giant-sized Maine Coon cat named Jack.

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