ELA escape room high-school lesson plan — August’s Quest of the Month

Do your students have what it takes to solve a series of 26 digital escape rooms? 

Each month at Classcraft, we choose one awesome quest — personalized, self-paced, choose-your-own-adventure lessons for students — to share with educators everywhere! Classcraft’s Quest of the Month for August, “Escape the Tedium” by Scott Oden is an engaging and challenging English Language Arts lesson plan.

Designed for grades 7 and up, Scott’s quest has gathered 26 digital escape rooms from BreakoutEDU and connected them through a captivating narrative. Students can complete this exciting and engaging digital lesson by starting with the skills they are most confident in. 

Starting in a mystical and treacherous cavern, students choose their path and weave their way through a cluster of obstacles as they demonstrate they’ve mastered ELA skills like grammar, usage, and mechanics. For an added bit of fun, each task challenges students to solve their puzzles in less time than “The Escape Artist” (Scott). 

Import this quest here to start using it with your class.

If you use Classcraft, you can submit the quests you’ve created for the next Quest of the Month on our submission page. Our goal is to spotlight the amazing educators who inspire us and share creative, teacher-made content with our global community of forward-thinking educators.

If you’re new to Classcraft, check out how quests can supercharge your lesson plans. Whether you’re a Classcraft newbie or pro, everyone can level-up their quests with our free plug-and-play narrative experience, Story Mode

Now, get to know “The Escape Artist” and the creative mind behind this quest. Take it away, Scott!

Gamemaster Scott Oden

What are your teaching stats?

Scott: I’ve been teaching Language Arts for four years at Lake Ridge Middle School in Woodbridge, Virginia. I taught 6th grade my first year, then I got boosted up to 8th grade. I’ve been there ever since.

What inspires you?

Scott: I get inspired by seeing students enjoying themselves in the classroom. I love it when they are so engaged, they forget that they’re learning. It gets me really fired up and challenges me to find new ways to elicit that experience.

What made you decide to use Classcraft? 

Scott: A member of my grad school cohort wrote her thesis on “gamifying” the classroom, and she cited Classcraft as her chief tool. I asked her about it, and it sounded like an amazing platform. I have not been let down!

Your favorite things about Classcraft are …

Scott: I love the sense of control the kids feel as they design, manipulate, and develop their own characters and teams. It is really cool to hear my kids talk about their characters as positive extensions of themselves. 

Shamelessly, I love the Makus Valley! I have yet to see anything as effective as the on-screen volume meter for maintaining class volume levels during independent work, and even discussions. I am also incredibly excited about continuing to use quests in my classroom. I put a lot of time into them, and it totally pays off as I see my students immersed in a self-paced learning experience just for them! 

Quest: Escape the Tedium

Why do you love the quest you created?

Scott: I absolutely love escape rooms and puzzles. This quest allowed me to pair Classcraft with escape rooms, AND it does a great job of reinforcing so many Language Arts skills that I don’t often have in-class time to double back to. There are several distinct paths that students can take to work their way through the quest that all focus on different skill groupings. It is the ultimate tool for choice and allows students to have much more control over their learning goals and overall achievement.

What did your students think of your quest? How did they react? 

Scott: Honestly, it was a mixed bag. Most of my students loved that they got to spend their time playing games and solving puzzles, and it wasn’t until after they finished that they realized how much content they had retained. I do, however, have a subset of students who get mad at me every time I unveil a new escape room challenge. That group of kiddos was less than thrilled with the notion of an entire quest centered on the escape room concept. Overall, though, a huge success!

What are your “trapped on a desert island” books or movies?

Scott: As far as books go, I’m definitely not as well read as most Language Arts/English teachers you’ll meet. That said, I’m always down to reread “The Iliad”! Also, I am really enjoying the “Altered Carbon” series, as well as most things by Neil Gaiman. If he ever finishes writing the series, I would love to be trapped on an island with Clive Barker’s “Abarat” young adult series.

As far as movies, “The Princess Bride” is always the answer!

Why did you want to become a teacher?

Scott: It took me a long time to figure out that I wanted to be a teacher. I tried my hand at a bunch of other courses of study and occupations before it dawned on me. I came to the realization that I was pretty good at explaining concepts to people, and (more importantly) I really enjoy helping people understand new and challenging material. 

I specifically chose English/Language Arts because I absolutely hated it in school, and I realized that it did not need to be such a terrible class. I now strive to make sure that Language Arts is not the worst class my kids have. I don’t know whether or not I’m succeeding in that goal, but I’m always trying new things with high hopes!

If you could share any piece of wisdom with your students, what would it be?

Scott: The one thing I really want my students to realize is that school is not that big of a deal. I realize this kind of flies in the face of conventional teacher talking points, but for real, it’s just school. I want my kids to work hard and try things they struggle with, but there is no chance they are going to be better people for spending hours awake at night struggling to learn the rules of the semicolon. 

It’s going to be okay, and as long as they are willing to put forth an honest effort and engage every now and then, they are going to be just fine.

Is there a quote or saying that you live your life by?

Scott: I never get the words quite right, but I try to live by the words of Mr. Wednesday (Odin) from Neal Gaiman’s American Gods, “Don’t bleed before you’re cut.” In other words, bad things are probably going to happen, and it’s perfectly reasonable to experience and mourn them when they do. 

However, there is no reason to get yourself all worked up and preemptively sad at the prospect of bad things. I try to always prepare for the future, but not get too caught up in the negative potential until something really does give me a reason to be sad.

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