SM North Students Take On Escape Room Challenges in English Language Arts Class

SM North Students Take On Escape Room Challenges in English Language Arts Class
Shawnee Mission School District

Giving students a unique way to demonstrate what they know, teachers at Shawnee Mission North recently converted their classrooms into an Escape Room. 

Instead of a test or worksheet, students were asked to solve a series of puzzles and challenges in a limited amount of time. Each puzzle related back to an English Language Arts (ELA) concept and helped teachers understand where students are in their learning process. 

“The puzzles require the students to read the text closely and because it is engaging as it provides a different type of learning,” Ben Bandel ELA teacher said. “This method helps them practice life skills because they are problem-solving in teams.”

Bandel often designs games like this Escape Room challenge to help his students understand content, he said. One of the biggest benefits of this method is that students get to practice interpersonal skills in ways that aren’t usually possible with a written test, Bandel said. 

The Shawnee Mission North auditorium was filled with teams of students solving puzzles and hunting for clues together. As they advanced through, they were answering questions about elements of plot, characterization, points of view, and theme. Bandel, Natalie Johnson-Barry, ELA teacher, and Kristin Abbey, special education teacher were all using the method to assess learning. 

“The clues were difficult to figure out,” Will Boyd, freshman said. “But, it was fun because we got to work in groups. It was exciting because it took perseverance to figure out the answers.” 

After the lesson, students were asked to write a short reflection on the experience. 

“Some have to persevere through frustration to get through this activity,” Johnson-Barry said. “This project serves many students because it helps them think about what they are struggling with and practice different ways of thinking.”