Tag Archives: Problem Solving

Cracking the Code to break out and escape – solving the puzzle classroom activity using OneNote passcode feature⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

So what is a Digital Breakout or Escape Room or Cracking the Code activity anyway?

Cracking the Code to break out and escape in a classroom story scenario by solving the puzzles in a classroom activity – where learners have to solve puzzles in order to get a code for each step to reveal the next puzzle. This can be called a Digital Breakout or Digital Escape Room activity as the learners have to solve problems (which can be related to anything being studied in the classroom at the time) in order to get the code word clue which will then allow them to reveal the next puzzle to be solved, and when all puzzles are solved will the learners be deemed to have cracked the code to let them “escape” or “break out” in this story scenario created by the teacher.

Why use a digital Escape Room Breakout Room activity in your classroom?

With a digital escape room, breakout room, crack the code activity learners work at their own pace, they can collaborate if you choose that option or they can work individually. They are solving problems to gain the passcode for the next activity which provides a fun challenge element to their learning. Learners get immediate feedback in that they must correctly solve the task in each section in order to get the code which reveals their next challenge.

What can be used?

Microsoft OneNote provides a good digital tool to set up the activity since it can have multiple sections, each of which can have a passcode applied, so that instructions, clues and activities are only revealed when the passcode is entered on a digital device, whether a computer tablet or smartphone. The clues (activities requiring solving a problem to get a passcode) can be very simple or require quite a bit of problem solving on the part of the learner – the teacher creating the activity chooses how easy or how hard the activity will be to suit the class and the timescales in which the activity will take place. And of course they can relate to whichever area of the curriculum is being taught at that time. It can be used as a form of revision or consolidation or testing of understanding – the teacher setting the tasks to suit the need.

How to set up a OneNote Notebook for a Breakout or Escape Room or Cracking the Code activity

The Sway below is a great introduction to how to create a Breakout activity using OneNote. This is by Candace Queen and Lynn McGee. This includes examples as well as a step by step guide showing how to set up your own Breakout/Escape Room/Crack the Code activity using OneNote.

Here’s step by step guidance for teachers using OneNote through Glow

OneNote is part of  Microsoft Office 365 and is available to all staff and pupils in schools in Scotland with a Glow login. Here’s how to set up your Breakout/Escape Room/Crack the Code activities using OneNote with your Glow account:

1. Log into Glow https://glow.rmunify.com/

2. Click on the OneDrive tile on the RM Unify Launchpad in Glow.

3. Click “+ New” and choose “OneNote notebook” from the drop down menu

4. Give your OneNote Notebook a name and click “create”

5. The notebook you have now created will open in OneNote Online

6. On the left-hand navigation menu right-click on “Untitled Section” and choose “Rename” to give your section a name, such as “Task 1” or “Puzzle 1”.

7. Add as many sections as you will require, one for each task/puzzle, by clicking on “+ Section” at the bottom left of  your screen and naming each section such as Task 2, Task 3, etc.

8. In each section there will be a page where you add a title for the page and add the text with the task/puzzle instructions. As well as simply adding text any OneNote page can, if you wish, also have pictures, links, video, or embedded content. Each section page will have a puzzle or task to solve which ends up with an answer which will be what unlocks the next section (once you’ve added the passcode protection to the section).

9. To be able to add the passcode you have to now open in the desktop version (or mobile app) of your OneNote as currently the passcode protection can’t be added in the online version (though users will be able to make use of the passcode to enter the sections, you simply can’t apply the passcode protection code in the online version). So simply click on “Open in OneNote” along the ribbon menu along the top of your OneNote Notebook (note that if this is the first time you’ve done this on a computer you may have to enter your full Glow email address and password to set up the connection between the online and desktop versions). If you have the OneNote mobile app set up on your tablet device or smartphone you will be able to apply the passcode there too.  To apply the lock right-click on the section tab and choose “Password Protect This Section” (if doing this on the mobile app then simply hold for a few seconds on the section name and the option to add the lock will be displayed).

10. Add the passcode answer from the previous section for each task on each section in turn (take a note somewhere else of each passcode as there is no means to access a passcode-protected section if you forget the passcode!). Don’t put a passcode on the first section so that your pupils will be able to access that right away.

Sharing your Breakout/Escape Room/Crack the Code OneNote Notebook

1. Return to the online version of the OneNote notebook you created

2. Click “Share” in the top right corner.

3. On the “share” box which appears click on the menu arrow which appears beside “Only the people you specific will have access to edit” so that further choices appear. Then select “anyone” and make sure the box beside “Allow Editing” is not ticked (in Glow this choice will is already be unticked and appears greyed out – note also that for Glow users only staff will have this option available). Click Apply.

4. Now click on “copy link” and this will provide you with a link you can now share with your class, perhaps in an email or somewhere online where your class have access to click on the link. The automatically created link may be too long to share easily if you’re displaying it on screen for learners to copy onto their browser, so you may wish to shorten the link using a URL shortening tool such as https://bitly.com/ or https://tinyurl.com/ or http://www.glo.li/shorten.php – you may also wish to use these tools to create a QR code which can give even quicker access to a site by a user using the QR code scanner built into mobile devices.

More “how-to” help

To see a fabulous how-to guide by Jill Robinson in a sequence of videos on YouTube then click on this link Create a Digital Escape Room with OneNote

Want to see more examples of Digital Escape Rooms using OneNote?

So if you’re not sure what you might put in your OneNote Escape Room/Breakout Room activity sections then have a look at the examples on the embedded Tweets below, or on the links below that, for inspiration. Click on the Twitter Moments link below to see examples of OneNote used by others to create a digital Escape Room, BreakOut Room or Crack the Code learning activities. Below this embedded content there are also links to examples of OneNote Breakout Room Escape Room activities.


Click on this link for a OneNote Escape Room activity on a science vocabulary theme created by @Maestra_Pacheco

Come Escape with OneNote – a downloadable pdf how-to guide with example of how to create a Digital BreakOut Room, Escape Room or Crack the Code learning activity using OneNote. This is by Alyssa Martin and Lin Lee.


Fake, Fiction or Fact? How can learners be helped to work out what’s true?⤴

from @ ICT for Teaching & Learning in Falkirk Primary Schools

There are so many choices for sources of news for learners to find out about what’s going on the world today, whether printed media, online news sites or social media. But how can learners be helped to be able to work out if what they are reading has any substance in fact, how accurate the information is, or what the biases are likely to be?

How can you spot fake news?

howtospotfakenewsinfographicHow to Spot Fake News – the IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), with thanks to www.factcheck.org, created an infographic detailing steps we can all take when trying to work out if what we are reading, hearing or watching is verifiable. This helps teach the skills of critical thinking and media literacy. This describes with visual representation 8 steps to take to help determine the likely authenticity of shared information: to consider the source, to read beyond the headline, the check credibility of the author, to look at linking sources, to check the date to see if current, to research to see if it’s satire, to consider your own biases and the likely ones of the source sharing the information, and to consult fact-checking sites. The infographic is available to download as either an image or in pdf format for printing.


Digital Literacy and “Fake News” – Resources to Help you help your students – many links collated by librarian-turned-technology-specialist Nancy Watson @nancywtech which help teachers guide their learners through ways to spot fake news and techniques to work out the authenticity of the shared information. The links include sites aimed at different age groups, teachers, younger learners, as well as for general public use. They include fact-checking sites as well as tips and advice to determining reliability of what is shared.

nwfakenewsepidemicDigital Literacy and the “Fake News” EpidemicNancy Watson has produced a superb resource for educators sharing a host of advice, tips and resources to support teachers support their learners to better be able to be discerning about the information shared online or in the print media. This includes examples of fake news and outlines the steps anyone can take to determine it to be factually inaccurate.

nprfakeorrealFake or real? How to self-check the news and get the facts – a post by digital news intern Wynne Davis describing the issue of fake news and giving practical advice for all ages about how to help determine whether what you are reading is true or fiction. Tips include checking the domain name (especially similar-sounding names), looking at quotations in the story (and checking up on who they are and anything known about them online), searching the quote itself to see if it properly attributed or taken out of context, check the comments to get a flavour of whether others call out the facts as being untrue and cite sources to back up their claims, reverse image search (right click on an image online and choose to search Google for it to see where else it is used and the context in which it is used).

Internet Archive and Wayback Machine

internetarchiveWouldn’t it be great if, when someone says content has changed on a website, or disappeared completely, that there was a way to look back at what was there beforehand? Well, The Internet Archive saves a huge amount of online content from many sources around the web (several hundred billion webpages!). This relies on the Wayback Machine (which is part of the Internet Archive) trawling on a regular basis for changed content. So if you search for a website and it is no longer available you can pop the weblink into the Wayback Machine (which is part of The Internet Archive) and look back at previous versions just by choosing a specific date. It will only be available for dates on which a trawl was made so is not available for every date but it’s still very impressive to be able to look at a website change over time and to be able to compare and contrast with versions over time.

savepagenowCan you save a web page on Wayback machine so it’s always there for future reference? Yes you can! You can simply capture a web page as it appears now for future use as a trusted citation in the future, or just to ensure it does not disappear when the original website changes or disappears. All you do is paste the weblink when you first find it on the Save Page Now” part of the Internet Archive site.

Fact-checking sites

There are a number of sites which can be used to verify whether stories (particularly those which appear on social media and spread like wildfire) have any basis in fact or whether they are urban myths, or out and out lies or propaganda. These include Politifact, Snopes, and Factcheck.org

Do you think you read with your bias? What bias does the writer have?

biasesaffectingusallBiases which affect us all – an infographic created by Business Insider which lists and describes 20 biases which we can all have when we read, hear or share information. Whether it’s a tendency to have a reliance on the first piece of information we hear, whether we are influenced by hearing the same information shared by a group, whether the information confirms what we already believed, stereotyping, or information which implies cause and effect, or many more – this infographic provides a useful starting point for discussing with learners the range of influences on us all when we all read or hear information.


Simulations to engage pupils in their learning⤴

from @ ICT for Teaching & Learning in Falkirk Primary Schools

15 Simulations to Gamify Your Class – this post by Jacqui Murray lists and describes a variety of online tools which let learners interact with a situation and make choices, which lead to different options depending on their choices. These include historical situations, life choices, enterprise activities and science and technology scenarios where the learner has to understand the situations, make choices based on their knowledge, then to see what happens based on their choice. Jacqui Murray has also helpfully added further suggestions and tips for teachers using these simulation tools in a classroom context.

29 Games Kids Can Play to Try Engineering - a post by Richard Byrne describing and linking to several online game simulations with an engineering focus on the Try Engineering website. This website also includes 114 lesson plans on a host of engineering themes, including those associated with the simulation games.

More Online Learning Simulations- a post by Larry Ferlazzo listing and describing a range of online learning simulations with a focus on finance or economy at different stages, as well as providing a link to a further post by him of additional simulations sites.