Looking to try digital escape rooms for Secondary ELA students? This post will help find a game that meets your needs.
Choosing Digital Escape Rooms for ELA
You may have played a digital escape room with your students at this point, but have you tried a series yet? Digital Escape Room series are a great way to increase your students’ endurance for reading, strengthen their reading skills, and keep them coming back for more!
(In this post, I’ll be focusing on my two ELA game series, Terminus & Burnbridge Breakouts. If you’re looking for a “one-off” game that focuses on a specific text or topic, I also have digital escape rooms for The Odyssey, Romeo & Juliet, Lord of the Flies, The Harlem Renaissance, The Roaring 20s, and a Poetry Escape Room.)
Terminus and Burnbridge are both digital breakout series. Both have that “escape room feel” that encourages critical thinking and collaboration as students work together to solve the mysteries. However, there are some important differences.
So, which one do you need? Terminus or Burnbridge? Let’s figure it out together!
Burnbridge Breakouts is a 10-chapter episodic game that is tonally similar to Scooby Doo. In other words, it’s a mystery, but it isn’t really scary. The games all take place in the same bigger world/story, but each features a different protagonist and setting. This is great for long-term use (like, one game every Friday for ten weeks) because, while students will connect the stories, each chapter is its own story, too.
Terminus is a four-chapter mystery adventure game and has legitimately suspenseful/scary parts to it. Each chapter has the same setting and the same protagonist, Rania. Whereas you’d get away with a student not making up a Burnbridge chapter, missing a Terminus chapter would make them feel lost.
Terminus is more mature. Even though we wrote it in July 2019, it will feel timely and important because the protagonist is trying to cure a global pandemic and save what’s left of humanity. (Don’t worry – she gets a happy ending!)
- Both are digital escape rooms for Secondary ELA students
- Interactive digital gameplay
- Beautiful, immersive artwork
- Diverse protagonists
- Clues & puzzles
- Answer validation for independent play
A Closer Look:
Every chapter in Burnbridge and Terminus has included nonfiction assignments written at a late 8th grade level. The goal is to use students’ interest in the fictional game as a bridge to nonfiction work.
Burnbridge has ten different assignments that feature a wide variety of nonfiction texts. For example, game #3 takes place in a haunted mansion. The accompanying assignment is a travel article profiling ten abandoned places. Students complete a vocabulary in context activity. Then, they choose one of the featured places as a setting for a piece of short fiction.
Burnbridge has a lot of opportunities for differentiation, like different brainstorming worksheets with varying amounts of scaffolding. The games themselves use a hover feature over target words to provide students with definitions. This series arose from my time teaching an 8th grade class with reading levels varying from 3rd grade to 10th grade. Burnbridge is my answer for engaging such a mixed-level class as that.
Terminus has fewer built-in opportunities for differentiation, but it focuses more on strengthening inferencing skills. Because it is a “found text” adventure, players need to read and process to solve the puzzles. Then, you can return to key texts (like a letter of resignation from the research center director) and model inferencing for the chapters ahead.
So which one do you need?
Many teachers choose to start with Burnbridge and then play Terminus. Here are some reviews to consider:
“Burnbridge Breakouts are phenomenal. So well done, so engaging, I can’t say enough. Thank you for creating resources that all students will benefit from and enjoy, even when they are struggling with reading skills. It is hard for me to find resources like that for my high school students. Many reading materials that are appropriately difficult for them feel too young and uninteresting, so I am thrilled to use this resource with my students. Thank you so much for creating this content!” -Used with 9th & 10th graders with learning difficulties.
“This is amazing!!! I am so excited to start this series with my students Semester 2! Thank you so much!! I have had my eye on the Burnbridge series for a while, but I couldn’t decide between this one or Terminus, so I got them both! Yay! I’m going to do this one with my ESL class, and Terminus with my regular English class. I’ll let you know how it goes. I really appreciate your hard work and support!”
“I’d already used the Terminus series, which my students loved. We are a reading intervention group and combining this with novels and F&P books, my students went up 1-3 levels during distance learning. I cannot say what part this resource played in terms of their skills, but they were absolutely hooked and turned up voluntarily every day for our meetings. When playing these breakouts, they often stayed online waaaay past our meeting time. After half an hour, I actually had to leave the Zoom open and had to go do other things! Highly recommended, particularly for reluctant readers. My students had a blast doing these collaboratively. I hope there are more to come!” -Used with 7th grade.
Want more tips on using escape rooms for Secondary ELA?
Check out this post!
“Wow – I don’t know where to even begin! I teach two blocks of an ‘alternate style’ program. My students are struggling Grade 10-12 students who have been unsuccessful in traditional classrooms for various reasons ranging from learning disabilities, social emotional challenges, and difficult home lives. I set my classroom up so students are working independently on different courses so I have a lot of flexibility with what work my students do, and I often find it difficult to find high quality, age appropriate resources that my students can complete on laptops. I was drawn to Danielle’s Digital Break out series right away and after confirming some department funds, I made the purchase. My kids loved this resource instantly! I even have a 17-year-old student who reads at a Grade 2 level and the text is challenging for them, but the whole game aspect has really been motivating. This resource exemplifies the innovation that real teachers can bring to the ‘resource market’.”
“I teach students with dyslexia and was looking for ways to make learning interactive and fun, especially since they were done with their examinations. I was initially skeptical, but upon using it myself and then with my students, this digital escape room proved to be a worthy investment. Everything was exceptional. The game interface, the activities/puzzles, the post-game discussions. All the materials have been wonderfully prepared. I like how the post activities can be varied depending on my students’ abilities. Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful learning resource! Highly recommended for other educators to get them as well.” -Used with 8th-10th grade struggling readers.
Both games have their own unique strengths and areas of focus. Which game best suits your class will totally depend on the reading level and needs of your students.
Burnbridge: Designed to reach reluctant readers and help bring 8th and 9th graders up to reading at grade level. Less suspenseful than Terminus, and content-wise is appropriate for 5th-12th grade. Watch the walkthrough for Game #1: The Abandoned Skatepark.
Terminus: Best for below-level or on-level students who need to practice their research, nonfiction writing, and inferencing skills. A higher stakes mystery that feels more “mature,” but is totally appropriate content-wise for 8-12th grades. Watch the trailer here.
I hope you enjoyed learning about how to use these two digital escape rooms for Secondary ELA students. If you’re still unsure which game would best suit your needs, I’m happy to help! You can click here to try Game #1 of each series, or you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on Instagram @nouvelle_ela.