Saturday, June 30

2017-2018 SWCSEF Grant Recipient

Breaking Out of Routine

Want to solve a murder mystery?  Nab an art museum bandit?  Escape zombies and prevent global destruction?  Now you can!
Escape rooms are the newest trend in entertainment.  Couples, families and friends around the world enjoy working together, discovering clues and solving puzzles to complete a mission.  Critical thinking and collaboration is essential.  Why not transfer those skills to the classroom through similar activities?
This year, with the help of our library media specialist, Jessica Klinker, my students participated in several breakout games.  I created the first one for my AP Literature students to apply literary terms.  Students entered the room to the sound of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” blaring on the speakers, with the lyrics scrolling on the screen.  They found two locked boxes on their table, along with a note which read: “Your lyrics are unique because they utilize many literary devices.  You receive an urgent text message from one of your bandmates telling you that Rolling Stone is about to publish fake news about your latest song, which is sure to be a top-ten hit.  Rolling Stone is going to give YOUR song songwriting credits to Taylor Swift!  Evidence proving this news is bogus is stored in their editor’s lock box.  You need to break open the box soon because the story goes to print in 45 minutes!  You must rely on your knowledge of literature terms studied years ago to solve the clues and break into his box before time is up!”
Students were curious and excited to tackle this mystery.
The first clue comes from the allusion in the lyrics: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”  Upon hearing that line, most students recognized the words and used their electronics to find the source.  For those who didn’t notice the allusion, I rewound the line again and again until it was painfully obvious!  The line leads them to Psalm 23:4, which is the code for the first lock.  Inside the box they found an black flashlight and a poem- another clue.  By using the literary terms we studied in class, they were able to solve a variety of puzzles, open the final box and find their reward!
The students loved this activity and begged to do it again.  Here are some of their comments from their subsequent reflections:
“Playing this game showed me just how unique each of us are with individual skills and certain parts of the game required skills that the other had. I learned that I am a really analytical thinker. I heard it a lot from my teachers but it’s another to see it really play out.”
“Me and my group worked together by sharing each other’s ideas and trying them. We gave each other turns to try different things. Playing this game taught me that I actually have some patience.”
“Solving a puzzle in the game relates to solving a problem in the real world because you have to go through steps to solve it, the things you solve could be real problems that need to be solved. Also because you could use the ways you solved the puzzle to solve your real world problems.”
“I found it very entertaining and mentally intensive.”
“I thought the Breakout activity was very beneficial in applying our knowledge of literature while also exercising our brain to conclude and be like detectives: thinking quickly… We didn’t want any hints because we knew we would feel better getting to the conclusion without cheating our way to it.”
Since the first try was a success, I also had my general ed English classes try breakouts over literary terms and also Macbeth. The results were the same. This is an engaging activity to use with students at any level!
Our resourceful media specialist was fortunate to receive a grant from the South-Western City Schools Education Foundation to purchase the equipment, but before that, we made do with regular wood boxes and locks the staff donated.  Breakout EDU has many free scenarios available.  Our next step will be having the students create their own breakout games.  The critical thinking skills necessary to plan the clues will take it to a higher level.   I would strongly suggest trying it out with your students!

Friday, June 29

2017-2018 SWCSEF Grant Recipient

2017-2018 SWCS Education Foundation Grant Evaluation: West Franklin Elementary students benefited from a SWCS Education Foundation Grant during the 2017-2018 school year. The entire student body was able to attend The Columbus Children’s Theater production of “The Three Little Pigs.” Over 600 students enjoyed the lively, audience participation-style nature of the performance. After seeing the traditional fairy tale come to life, students were able to explore story elements such as character development, setting, point of view, and author’s purpose. Older elementary students compared the original version to the stage version, critiquing and justifying their thinking with evidence from the play. The experience, as a whole, was especially beneficial to West Franklin’s high  population of low socioeconomic students. The opportunity for many of the students to attend live theater is unusual, and we were able to walk to Franklin Heights High School to see the play at no cost, thanks to the generous grant. Students even learned and/or practiced social skills such as sitting quietly during the show, applauding at the appropriate times, and asking questions after the performance. West Franklin Elementary students thoroughly enjoyed the Columbus Children’s Theater performance of “The Three Little Pigs.”

Wednesday, June 27

Did You Know

Did you know, you can support SWCS Educational Foundation when you shop with Amazon? It's true! Shop through AmazonSmile and 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases are donated to the charity of your choice. Visit and select Southwestern City Schools Educational Foundation as your charity - or simply use this link to start shopping (and donating) today!:

2018 SWCSEF Scholarship Recipient

Monday, June 18

2018 SWCSEF Scholarship Recipient

Receiving this scholarship will help to ease the financial pressures of college and make it so that I can put all my energy into furthering my education at OSU. I am so, so grateful. Thank you so much!

Faith L

Thursday, June 7

2018 SWCSEF Scholarship Recipient

This scholarship lightens the burden on my family and means I can worry less about my educational future. Thank you so much.

Jo H.

Wednesday, June 6

2018 SWCSEF Scholarship Recipient

Winning this scholarship to me means the most and I feel honored to have been selected as a recipient. It has made me realize that hard work actually pays off.

Penelope O.

Tuesday, June 5

2018 SWCSEF Scholarship Recipient

This scholarship is really another aid in order to accomplish my dream of getting a degree in Environmental Health and Safety Engineering. 

Joseline M.

Monday, June 4

2018 SWCSEF Scholarship Recipient

Winning this award means I can attend the school of my dreams and pursue my biggest passion in life, which is vocal music.

Paige B.

Sunday, June 3

2018 SWCSEF Scholarship Recipient

Thank you for awarding this scholarship to me! I plan to continue my education at Ohio University in Athens for a degree in Social Work. It shows my hard work pays off. The scholarship will help relieve some stress in finding ways to pay off college. 

Joan K.

Saturday, June 2

2018 SWCSEF Scholarship Award

First, I would like to start off by thanking you for choosing me as one of this years SWCSEF scholarship winners. I cannot express in words how thankful I am to have received this scholarship. It is hard to believe that high school is over and the next chapter of my life is just right around the corner. Receiving this scholarship will allow me focus on studying and immersing myself in the college atmosphere, rather than trying to come up with the money to pay for it. Again, thank you for your generosity!

Sierra M.

Friday, June 1

2018 SWCSEF Scholarship Recipient

I wanted to thank you for choosing me as a recipient of your scholarship. With rising college costs, achieving a higher education can be burdensome, but with your scholarship some of that burden will be lifted from my shoulders. In Fall 2018, I will be attending the main campus at The Ohio State University as a participant in the Honors Program.  I will be studying Public Affairs and National Security at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences.  Again, thank you very much for choosing me as a recipient of your scholarship!

Brook L.