Laura Nicholson – May 2019
1. Escape rooms
Escape rooms are “live-action team-based games where players discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms to accomplish a specific goal (usually escaping from the room) in a limited time” (Nicholson, 2015). To create an escape room, the following elements need to be included,
- An engaging scenario explaining why students need to ‘escape the room.’
- 10 activities for students to solve in order to reach the final mission and ‘escape the room’. The end mission could be achieved by completing all the tasks to e.g. collate all the different parts of a picture or statement
- Each activity should have a title to give the students a clear focus on what factors of the topic they are addressing
- On completion of each single activity, students should gain a clue which directs them to the next challenge
- To create a real ‘escape room,’ the completion of any of the ten activities should provide students with the possibility of either opening a lock with a key or code, shine a UV torch onto an invisible message or maybe use a Mexican code wheel to decipher a message.
- The tasks to release the clue can also come in many formats, e.g. solving a riddle, identification of a prop, reading a written account, multiple choice quizzes, crosswords, Tarsia etc. To add in more critical evaluation, you could also throw in a few red herrings or trick questions
- Have some appropriate music playing in the background to set the scene
- Students can check the correct answer to the task with the lecturer, but the lecturer should only confirm if they are right or not; if an incorrect answer is given, they must return to the task and try again
Escape rooms can be applied to a range of disciplines, for example creating a reconstruction of events for history, tor identifying the cause of a disease outbreak for healthcare. Visit activehistory for some fantastic examples of escape rooms.
Enhance with technology
To reduce the level of lecturer input during the separate tasks, many could be set up to provide instant feedback. So, when students complete a task correctly, the clue relating to where a key or code is can be provided automatically to them. For example, create multiple choice quizzes using Socrative, Quizizz or Quizalize.
Use Socrative to create interactive quizzes in a variety of formats. Download a Socrative instruction guide for teachers or students below.
With Quizalize, if students are struggling to provide the correct answers, different support and extension activities can be supplied after the quiz completion. So, if they score less than 50%, they can be assigned another activity, thus enabling the lecturer to signpost the students to other resources to develop understanding. This is a great feature and makes Quizalize one of my favourite tech tools.
Quizalize provides a room code which students need to type in to access the activity, and there are multiple pre-made quizzes, which can be downloaded for free.
Another activity could be to include a video question and answer task or use QR codes to direct students to specific websites to find the answers. Alternatively, annotate images and videos using ThingLink to direct students to websites to find the answers to the clues.
If you want to facilitate more discussion of the topic after the activity has ended, use Mentimeter which can display students responses to questions on the whiteboard. One of the tasks in the escape room could instruct students to post two truths about the topic and one lie. These will be saved on the Mentimeter platform so that once everyone has finished the escape room, every group’s truths and lies can be shown on the board to discuss.
According to Microsoft (2019) ‘PlayPosit is an online learning platform to create and share interactive video lessons’. Instructors begin with any online video (YouTube, Khan Academy, TED, MP4s, etc.) and transform what is traditionally passive content into an active experience for learners with time-embedded activities.
Still or moving images can be placed alongside each other, with a video playing on one side. PlayPosit can also be used to create interactive maps or graphs, and even allows for quizzes and comments to be added on screen. The possibilities are endless!
2. Reverse case study
A reverse case study involves higher-order thinking skills of analysis, evaluate and create as it requires the application of previous knowledge in a different context with problem-solving strategies and creative thinking (Smallheer, 2015,p,7). Students are placed into groups of four, and each group is provided with the following,
-An incomplete case study– depending on the topic, various important details should be omitted, such as location, time, age of person or an artefact
-A bag of 10 props – each prop should enable the student to create multiple potential scenarios when applied to the case study. I have used this whereby I created a case study around someone who had experienced a stroke. I omitted details such as age, lifestyle and time taken to get to a hospital. The students had to determine the various courses of action that could be taken, using all or some of the props provided. The bag of props I used included,
-Three empty medication boxes (each different and could only be administered in certain circumstances; this encouraged the students to develop three different scenarios).
-A pacemaker alert bracelet (this would affect the type of scan the patient could have)
-A blood pressure monitor (students determine how low or high blood pressure could impact)
-A bottle of herbal home remedies (students consider whether herbal remedies would have any implications for treatment
-Two CT scan images (each labelled as a different type of stroke, this would further determine treatment methods)
-An empty packet of cigarettes (to include a consideration of lifestyle)
-A blood glucose meter (to encourage students to consider potential risk factors and what patient guidance could be provided as a result).
Students must understand the impact of the props to evaluate how each one could result in a different scenario. The use of textbooks, previous notes and additional research is permitted. On completion of the task, students update the case study; they use all or some of the props to fill in missing information, including details such as the type of stroke and the treatment provided.
Each group will write the case study differently, depending on what scenario they created with their props. They then present this to the class, and students can discuss whether the new case study would result in the predictions made. There will be multiple scenarios being presented, facilitating the discussion of a broad range of factors. Also, despite all students starting with the same case study, each presentation will cover slightly different aspects, this will increase engagement as students are not merely listening to a range of identical presentations.
The reverse case study method can be applied to a variety of different disciplines such as law, with the props relating to the actions of an individual, or use a coastal management case study for geography alongside tourism and industry-based props. For literature studies, the case study could summarise an upcoming paragraph in a book, and the props could facilitate students in recognising how character actions are responsible for the development of the plot. Alternatively, a historical case study could be used, with the props based on various significant factors which could have led to a different outcome of events.
3. Hoax design
Provide students with news stories or web articles, along with a help-sheet on how to deconstruct web pages, in order to evaluate the reliability. A useful worksheet is available by ReadWriteThink and can be downloaded here, or Mediasmarts has a free lesson plan on deconstructing web pages. Furthermore, the Iowa State University has a list of hoax sites which could be used for the evaluation.
For the second part of this activity, provide a series of topic related statements for students to research to determine if they are fact or fiction; a simple true/false response is not allowed, students must justify by evaluating the science or theory behind their claim. Some examples of correct and incorrect statements I have used are,
- Alcohol hand gel kills all dangerous microbes
- The ‘five second rule’ is an inaccurate hygiene concept
- Washing meat and poultry before cooking is good practice
- Freezing, thawing and cooking always kills bacteria
On completion, discuss the findings and get students to complete a self-evaluation sheet on what they have learned about hoax websites.
Enhance with technology
Sometimes, if students are accessing the hoax websites online, they tend to ‘Google’ whether the example is a hoax or not, rather than completing the deconstruction element. To avoid this, the webpage could be saved or printed for offline viewing, which can be done with something like Pocket.
Pocket has a range of uses and can be helpful for this task as it saves webpages, articles and videos for offline viewing. The lecturer can then share these with students without the need to connect to the internet to view. Alternatively, clip and save the webpage using Evernote to then print off for students to evaluate.
4. Past artefacts
Provide students with images of old artefacts, or even better the actual objects themselves. Instruct students to identify the different features, materials and overall design of the artefact to determine how the structure is linked to function.
Then present students with a new or current version of the artefact and ask to appraise the overall quality, consider what has prompted any changes in design, evaluate the impact of these changes and consider any implications for future use or potential development opportunities.
I use this activity to compare medical tools from the past to the present and can often buy many old tools or replicas from Ebay fairly cheaply. This activity would also suit a range of other disciplines, whereby students could also evaluate changes in mechanical tools, cooking tools, building materials, textiles, tools for measurements or monitoring tools.
Enhance with technology
To add a bit more fun and challenge, put students into pairs and provide each with an artefact from the past. They must complete the analysis and evaluation as before, but this time they must find an image representing the present artefact by researching online. At this point each pair should also be issued with an envelope containing a card with either ‘truth’ or ‘lie’ written on it. If students get the truth card, they must find the image of the artefact currently used today. If students get the lie card, they must find an image of an artefact which could be a plausible replacement, but is not. On completion, students write a short pitch for delivery to the class, to convince them of the reasons why their artefact has changed and how it has been enhanced.
While delivering their pitch, the other students can use GoSoapBox, which is a great tool to get the whole audience involved (the free version allows up to 30 participants). It is a flexible classroom response system, but the useful function to be utilised in this activity is the ‘confusion barometer’. If at any point during the student’s pitch, a member of the audience becomes confused, the audience member can click to indicate they are either confused or need the student presenters to slow down.
The students delivering the pitch receive this as a graphical representation on a computer screen and must adapt their pitch accordingly. GoSoapBox enables whole class interaction, and it also helps students to develop their verbal presenting skills. On completion of the pitch, students must determine whether they have been told the truth or a lie.
5. Then and now
Provide students with a theory or idea which was believed to be right in the past, and then provide a theory or idea from the present, which contradicts this.
Students must justify why the present facts disprove the theory’s predecessor and then determine the range of new knowledge needed, for the current theory to be accepted. Students must also evaluate the impact of the new theory or idea.
Enhance with technology
Adobe Spark has a free sign-up account which can be set up instantly and enables students to create engaging websites. Get students to make a Spark Page and write a story of events, starting with the past theory to then progressing through time to the current theory. Students can use templates to create an engaging web page, with images, text and videos to take the reader through the different stages of new knowledge acquisition about the theory.
Alternatively, they could create a Spark page to create a collage of, e.g. five images which takes the reader through the theory development. Or students can create a Spark video by combining video clips, photos and text. Their creations can be shared with others to enable the sharing of ideas or to introduce a peer marking element to the activity.
‘There isn’t one way to write a conclusion, and following one particular structure could lead to conclusions becoming very formulaic’ (University of Leeds, 2019). Conclusions often follow the very basic format of ‘Today I have discussed X, which caused, Y and then Z’, which can be uninteresting and monotonous to read. This activity is based on getting students to assess different conclusions, but may need to be adapted in accordance with the discipline being covered.
Provide students with a range of example conclusions, either from anonymous past work or from sample research papers based on their current topic. Students work in groups to mark the conclusions using the guidelines below to assign the conclusion points out of 10.
- Does the conclusion start with a clear topic sentence?
- Does it reiterate the main points?
- Does it make any recommendations or ‘calls for action’, linking how they are justified or contradicted in accordance with the findings discussed? (Chuang, 2017).
- Are there any predictions or requirements for further research?
- Does the conclusion answer the ‘so what’ question? Is it clear as to why what has been written matters? (The reader must be left with an understanding of the significance of the essay or report).
- What does the reader take away from this piece of writing?
Also mix in some erroneous additions to the list, these will be things which definitely shouldn’t be in a conclusion and could include,
- Does the conclusion summarise all the information discussed in the essay/report?
- Does the conclusion include new information or statistics?
At the start of the activity, students are not told whether all these elements should definitely be in a conclusion so they will award grades in relation to what they believe makes a good conclusion.
When students have judged each paper and ranked them according to whether they think they have strong or weak conclusions, discuss their decision making as a class. Identify what the essential elements should be and then discus what should not be included. Students then re-evaluate their original marks and adapt if necessary.
Handouts can be provided for students to take away, such as the one here, issued by Leeds University.
Enhance with technology
iRubric is a free tool to create rubrics. A rubric will enable a more critical and guided response to the questions above, and iRubric allows rubrics to be produced quickly and effortlessly. Not only does iRubric make the creation of rubrics easier, but it also provides a more collaborative approach to the grading activity.
The lecturer can assign a rubric to a document to then share with the class, and a live report of results will be created, so the lecturer can quickly gauge student’s views on the conclusion being assessed.
Chuang, F-Y. (2017). Writing a conclusion. Available at: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/al/globalpad/openhouse/academicenglishskills/writing/conclusions/ (last accessed 28/04/2019)
Microsoft. (2019). Playposit. Available at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/playposit/9nl2vdvgjb51?activetab=pivot%3Aoverviewtab (last accessed 04/05/2019)
Nicholson, S. (2015). Peeking behind the locked door: A survey of escape room facilities. Available at: http://scottnicholson.com/pubs/erfacwhite (last accessed 04/05/2019)
Smallheer, B.A. (2015). ‘Reverse case study: A New Perspective on an Existing Teaching Strategy’. Nurse Educator, Vol 41 (1) p.7. Available at: https://www.nursingcenter.com/wkhlrp/Handlers/articleContent.pdf?key=pdf_00006223-201601000-00004 (last accessed 04/05/2019)
University of Leeds. (2019). Essay Writing. Available at: https://library.leeds.ac.uk/info/14011/writing/112/essay_writing/7 (last accessed 05/05/2019)