Breakout EDU sessions help Pinckney students strengthen critical thinking and collaboration skills

A school-wide initiative at Charles Pinckney Elementary School is helping to develop problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills.  We’re in Mount Pleasant for our Cool School of the week.

Breakout EDU is helping teachers bring the idea of escape rooms to the classroom.  Breakouts are being used to teach core academic subjects including math, science, history, and language arts. Each adventure has embedded standards that apply problem solving strategies. Pinckney’s library media specialist Jennifer Thrift received training last summer and now she works with teachers to integrate Breakout sessions. “I collaborate with teachers in the classroom and integrate what they’re doing in the classroom in the library, and so this kind of takes the escape room and brings it into the classroom. It allows the kids to communicate, collaborate, critical think, and unravel clues to break out,” Thrift says. “This particular breakout was created by myself and another teacher using standards from social studies so it’s based on the underground railroad.” The breakout EDU sessions are used to teach core academic subjects.  Thrift says, “We give them a back story and they have to read the story.  The back story kind of takes them to the first clue, and they have to use different things to unravel the clues. For example one of them is a Google form and they have to fill in the Google form using a timeline using a chart, different information text features to unravel the clues. That takes them to other clues.  It’s a fun innovative way to learn.”

All grade levels participate.  “It’s exciting so you see the problem solved and how you did it,” says third grade student Faith Hurtwig.  “It takes some hard work and team work and critical thinking.  It’s like thinking out of the box. It helps you because there is some math in there, a lot of subjects in each breakout,” says Faith.  Principal Leanne Sheppard says,”It is so engaging for children.  It gets away from that old school paper and pencil memorization children have done for years and allows them to really think outside of the box, and do higher level thinking.”

This is the first year for Breakout EDU at Pinckney.  Now Pinckney’s staff  members are training other teachers in Charleston county on how to implement Breakout EDU at their schools.

We want to hear about the good things that are going on at your school.   Just send an email to Octavia at omitchell@

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