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Breaking Out of the Norm

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JGHS teacher Megan Gieser seeks to bring lessons to life for her students, and recently, she did so by spending many hours with a few of her fellow teachers to create a “breakout” lesson revolving around the critically acclaimed novel “The Things They Carried.”

“Breakout” lessons are similar to the popular “Escape the Room” scenarios in that students have to decipher clues and take action to solve—and escape—a situation.

Two classes were broken into teams: those stationed in Vietnam and those “home.” While deciphering separate sets of clues amongst themselves, teams had to also communicate via walkie-talkie from separate rooms.

“Look closer at the photo of the man protesting with fire,” Gio, a student on the Vietnam team, urged the home team through a walkie-talkie during the lesson.

Students navigated through provided clues using black lights, news articles, and images from the Vietnam War to open three different lock boxes. Without knowledge of the novel or historical context, getting through the challenges would have been impossible, but each class completed the challenge with mere minutes, or seconds, to spare, showcasing their knowledge of the novel as well as their abilities to work together.

After completing the challenge, teams were ranked, similar to military rankings, by their success.

“Students learned that effort, teamwork, awareness, and knowledge are key factors in succeeded as a unit,” said Ms. Gieser.

Additionally, the following week, students participated in a fitness lesson to help simulate the things soldiers carried during Vietnam, as well as
many physical challenges and obstacles the soldiers faced during that time period.