According to StandOut, I am a “stimulus for new ways of thinking,” with Connector and Creator as my first and second strengths, respectively. I am glad I had the opportunity to take the StandOut assessment as it has helped me to better understand my strengths such that I might play upon them. I highly recommend the StandOut assessment for anyone who wishes to know themselves better. It has gotten me to the point of purposefully creating and sharing my ideas in the digital realm, but this did not happen overnight.

Last year when I saw the Digital BreakoutEdu website I just had to try one, so I chose something that claimed to be easy, a Level 2. I remember Og’s Great Adventure well because when I couldn’t break two of the locks it felt as though it was more like a Level 200. Why couldn’t I figure it out? It became a personal mission and as my Pre-AP Biology students arrived to class I asked them to help me solve it. I told them if they liked this style of puzzle that we could try to build some science-themed puzzles of our own. Connect. Create.

It has now been over one year since my students and I worked together to solve Og’s Great Adventure. It was win-win: I finally figured out how the whole puzzle worked and my students got to come to my rescue. They didn’t mock me about it for too long; they enjoyed knowing how to do something that I did not know and teaching me how to do it too. This is what I now suggest to any teacher who wants to use one of my puzzles that they haven’t yet solved themselves.

I have built at least ten science-themed digital puzzles and two analog puzzles. I have shared all of my digital puzzles to the BreakoutEDU Digital Sandbox, though some of them have yet to be posted there. I mostly build them when a colleague expresses a need for a puzzle on a specific concept. As I build a puzzle I refer to the Next Generation Science Standards to ensure that at least parts of it are aligned to a particular content standard. And so it goes. If you are interested in perusing my science-themed digital puzzles you can find them at Science Breaks. I have also built an as yet untested math-themed puzzle which is located at Math Breaks.

ScienceBreaks_Aug2016I have learned a lot of interesting new tricks with Google Sheets during this process, as well as how to use many new online creation tools, such as Canva and Buncee. As the feedback comes rolling in I am learning to take suggestions without taking them personally, and to let go of unnecessarily mean comments. With so much learning and growth out of something that I enjoy doing anyway, I am unlikely to stop. These puzzles help me to achieve a state of flow, and I am certain that it relates back to my strengths. Connect. Create.