UGDSB educators using virtual escape rooms to teach during distance learning


May 25, 2020

GUELPH, Ontario – During this time of distance learning, many Upper Grand District School Board educators are looking for creative ways to engage students virtually.

Recently, two teachers from the board created virtual escape room challenges for their students to find a fun and engaging way to teach their students math.

At Palmerston Public School, grade 3/4 teacher Sarah Zavitz, has been designing math escape room challenges for her students using Google Forms. Throughout distance learning, Zavitz’s students have been suggesting themes for learning, which are then used for the challenge. Recently, students in her class have been ‘trapped’ at school, the circus, in space and in an abandoned hotel. Each theme has a different story or challenge behind it, creating a different learning opportunity.

Using these themes, Zavitz then incorporates the math curriculum for the week and creates math puzzles that students need to solve before advancing to the next challenge. For example, during the circus theme, students had to use their knowledge of fractions to free a stampede of elephants so they could find their food.  

Students in the class are loving these activities and think it is a fun way to practise math during distance learning.

Students at Palmerston PS aren’t the only ones learning through virtual escape rooms. At Victory Public School, students in Jason McCoy’s grade 2/3 class got to experience a virtual Harry Potter themed escape room.

McCoy said he got the inspiration to create this virtual escape room from other educator posts on social media.  

The Harry Potter escape room used Google Forms and only allowed students to move forward once they came up with the correct response. The goal of this was to allow students to explore and learn from their mistakes, while they learned to solve each problem.

Students in the class indicated that they really enjoyed the activity and it helped them become more interested in fractions.

The feedback from both Palmerston PS and Victory PS was so positive, Zavitz and McCoy hope to continue with similar activities. ​