How I … used ‘Escape Rooms’ to improve innovation at GEMS WSR

Harley GolderAssistant Head of Primary at GEMS Westminster School Ras Al Khaimah, is using digital escape rooms to help his school think outside the box and deliver on teaching observation frameworks. Read on to find out more.

Teaching observations have a long history of causing a high level of stress, anxiety and nerves among school teachers, and this is only amplified when the observation is online.

In GEMS Westminster School Ras Al Khaimah’s most recent round of observations, the following two areas of the Ministry of Education Framework stood out as areas to improve upon:

  • Teaching to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, innovation and independent learning skills
  • Innovation, enterprise, enquiry, research, critical thinking and use of learning technologies

To address these areas, Harley Golder introduced Escape Rooms’ as a teaching and learning tool to promote innovation, enquiry, research, the independent use of learning technologies and the independent application of learning skills. Here is what he had to say:

“I had stumbled across a similar activity online when I was looking into methods to promote innovation and independent learning while working remotely. I then had the idea to bring Escape Rooms into the classroom, and I created a mock example to share with the Primary SLT, who liked and supported the idea.

“Escape Rooms were first introduced as part of our World Book Week celebration – each Escape Room linked to the core text being read in each Grade. This gave the Escape Room a familiar context, and Escape Rooms have now been introduced in every grade across Primary, including KG1.

“Escape Rooms are created using Google Slides, and allow children to jump between different platforms and areas to independently solve a range of problems. Children have to enquire to find answers to questions, complete independent research to collect information and be enterprising in how they think. All of these skills develop a child’s independence, innovation and critical thinking skills.

“When we first began to roll out the Escape Rooms, I created all the slides for the initial launch, as the process was still unfamiliar to the majority of my colleagues. Following this, a feedback form was shared and teachers from across the school signed up to receive training on how they can create their own. Escape Rooms are time-consuming to make, especially when working on them independently; however, a team working together to collectively make one is more efficient – and this is how we plan to create them moving forward.

“We are still analysing the impact of this method, as we are in the initial stage of their introduction, but the main areas where we are expecting to see impact are increased performance within the ‘Teaching to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, innovation and independent learning skills’ criterium, and the development of ‘Innovation, enterprise, enquiry, research, critical thinking and use of learning technologies’ when looking at lesson observations and the children’s learning skills.

“The feedback from my fellow teachers at WSR has been encouraging, positive and enthusiastic. Teachers have been very excited to share the Escape Rooms with the children. Parents and children have also shared lots of feedback regarding how ‘interactive’ and ‘exciting’ the learning was, as well as being a clear opportunity for the children to learn and explore independently.

“I believe that when we teachers innovate, it makes room for our students to do the same.”

If you’d like to learn how you can introduce Escape Rooms to your classes, please feel free to contact Harley and request a training session, by filling in this form.

If you would like to try out and complete one of Harley’s Escape Rooms, please use one of the links below – good luck!

Click the link to open an Escape Room for each grade.