The U.S. Department of Education has announced the 16 recipients of this year’s grants for education innovation and research. Recipients include organizations that are undertaking promising work in teacher professional development, reading and writing, school leadership and other practices.
The total issued — $95 million — is a far cry from the halcyon Race-to-the-Top days, when $646 million was issued in 2010. In every subsequent year, the total amount of innovation funded has dropped. Last year the total was $103 million; in 2015, it was $123 million…
Often, we assume that increasing college graduate rates is worth the investment needed to spur that growth. The American Academy of Arts & Sciences decided to put an economist on the job of figuring out whether that’s true. In a report titled, “The Economic Impact of Increasing College Completion,” a team of analysts from Moody’s Analytics attempted to lay out the costs and benefits of a sustained investment program aimed at boosting program completion rates, especially for disadvantaged students. The bottom line: The investment would hurt in the beginning but pay off in big ways down the road.
Escape rooms are breaking out all over. The latest tally by Room Escape Artistcounts more than 1700 in the United States alone. It only makes sense that teachers would want to find a way to bring the concept of a locked room into education as well. After all, who doesn’t want to escape from the classroom at some point during the year? But since the idea of locking up students wouldn’t translate well to most parents, some inspired teachers have figured out a better way to bring the challenge of the escape room to their instruction — with the use of breakout boxes.
Locked Room, Locked Box
Escape rooms, if you haven’t heard of them, are physical locations where you and your teammates enter a “magical world that has its own purpose,” as Sherry Jones, a philosophy and game studies subject matter expert and lecturer at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, explained. “There’s some reason you’re trapped in there. When you play the game, you’re trying to figure out how to get out.” The room has clues in the form of objects and gadgets, and the whole activity is timed. As the clock ticks down, the players need to figure out why those objects are there, what their function is, how they help explain why you’re locked up in the first place and how they can work as clues to help you escape before the room “blows up” or the participants inside “freeze” or some other metaphorical demise occurs.
Breakout boxes, such as those introduced by Breakout EDU, turn that formula on its head. Instead of escaping from a room, students must break into a box secured with multiple locks. They do this by drawing on what they’re learning in class to untangle clues that may help them figure out the combination to a lock, locate a key or something else to move them through the game.