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Unlock Learning & Forget Grading with Digital Escape Rooms for English Language Arts

Listen to the podcast version here. ➡️ 🎧Teacher Time Mastery Podcast🎙️

Hello, dedicated ELA educators! Are you on the lookout for innovative ways to ignite passion and engagement in your classroom? Look no further than the realm of digital escape rooms for English Language Arts. In this guide, we'll dive into the incredible benefits and practical strategies for incorporating digital escape rooms into your teaching toolkit.

Unveiling the Power of Digital Escape Rooms for ELA

In the fast-paced world of education, where creativity meets technology, digital escape rooms have emerged as dynamic tools for captivating students' imagination and fostering active learning. Let's explore why these digital adventures are tailor-made for your ELA classroom.

The Allure of Digital Escape Rooms

Digital escape rooms offer a unique blend of entertainment and education, aligning seamlessly with the goals of modern ELA instruction. Here's why they're a game-changer:

  1. Engaging Learning Experience: Digital escape rooms transform mundane lessons into thrilling quests. Students actively participate, making learning an unforgettable adventure. Make it an individual activity or a pairs/team activity for more discussion.

  2. Critical Thinking Development: Each puzzle and challenge demands intricate problem-solving. Students must think critically, analyze information, and make informed decisions.

  3. Collaborative Learning: These activities promote teamwork and peer interaction. Even reserved students find their voice in collaborative discussions and problem-solving.

  4. Immersive Exploration: Students delve into immersive narratives, enhancing their reading comprehension skills as they navigate through the challenges.

  5. Curriculum Integration: Digital escape rooms effortlessly weave ELA concepts into the fun. From literary analysis to vocabulary enrichment, every challenge serves an educational purpose.

Crafting Your Digital Escape Room Adventure

Now, let's delve into the process of creating an engaging digital escape room tailored to your ELA curriculum.

Step 1 - Choose a Captivating Theme

Select a theme that resonates with your curriculum. Whether it's unraveling a Shakespearean mystery or exploring the depths of literary elements, your theme should align with your teaching objectives.

Step 2 - Develop an Engaging Storyline

Craft a compelling narrative that draws students into the adventure. Characters, settings, and scenarios should be richly developed, immersing students in the fictional world you've created. For some, this is the trickiest part of the whole deal. Stay tuned, and I'll give you some extra help on this soon.

Step 3 - Integrate ELA Concepts Seamlessly

Seamlessly integrate ELA concepts into your puzzles and challenges. From grammar puzzles to vocabulary riddles, every task should be a hidden opportunity for students to reinforce their learning.

Step 4 - Design Engaging Puzzles

This is where the fun truly begins! Design a variety of puzzles that encourage critical thinking. Anagrams, crosswords with revealed secret codes, word searches, and even literary code-breaking challenges through digital cipher wheels can be seamlessly integrated.

Step 5 - Utilize Digital Tools

Leverage digital tools to enhance the experience. Incorporate links or QR codes to digital tools, resources, online platforms, and multimedia elements to add depth to your escape room adventure. If you're doing it as a physical lock box activity in your room, QR codes are a fun and easy way to tie in digital elements. If you're setting up a digital escape room, links are going to be the easiest way to achieve this.

Implementing Your Digital Escape Room

Group Dynamics and Instructions

Organize students into teams, if desired, and provide clear instructions. Clarify the objective, storyline, and how to use the digital tools to navigate through the challenges. Go through the introduction together to make sure directions are clear and then turn them loose!

The Role of the Facilitator

As the facilitator, guide and support students. Print out your key and hints, and walk around the room monitoring for when students get stuck. Offer hints when needed, ensuring that teams remain engaged and on track to unlock the final solution.

Alternatively, you could give each student a set of hint cards, usually two to four hint cards depending on the difficulty of the particular escape room. Students need to really try to solve it themselves before asking for help, or they will have to give up one of their precious hint cards to get a boost from you. This works particularly well if you have a group of students who would rather not think and would rather just come to you at every turn for the answers. But we've never had classes like that, right? 🙃

Celebrate Achievements

Celebrate the triumphs of your students as they solve the final puzzle. Recognize their efforts, teamwork, and the ELA skills they've honed along the way.

Escape rooms will inevitably become a competition, so be prepared with a treat or privilege your winners will receive, or all students will receive when they complete the challenge. This could be a coupon to bring their pop (or soda for you non-midwesterners) to class for a day, get a free homework assignment pass, a late pass, extra credit points to be applied to the next quiz or test, getting to sit in the comfy reading chair for class, etc. If you're doing a digital escape room, why not set up a simple Portant data merge that will shoot the kids an email with their certificate, name, date, and escape room listed? Save yourself the work!

Introducing New Horizons Academy's Digital Escape Room Library

To make your journey even smoother, New Horizons Academy presents a treasure trove of ready-to-use digital escape rooms, tailored exclusively for our Vocab Vigor curriculum.

Discover Our Digital Escape Room Library

I'm thrilled to announce that each of our Vocab Vigor unit bundles now includes a digital escape room! Use it as a fun replacement for a traditional test, assign it as a test review before a big test, or save it for a sub day or simply a day you know you and your kids won't be up for traditional direct instruction, such as the day before breaks, the day after Halloween, etc.

Each set includes a teacher's key with answers and student hints, as well as the copy link for the Google Form escape room. Copy it to your Google Drive and assign it to your students for a fun and engaging lesson!

Elevate Your Classroom Experience

Visit our website at or the New Horizons Academy Teachers Pay Teachers store to unlock the door to captivating ELA learning with our digital vocabulary escape rooms. Elevate your classroom experience with these immersive and educational adventures. If you're one of the many teachers who has already purchased the Level 1 Unit 1 bundle including sets 1-8, just shoot me an email at with a screenshot of your receipt and I'll happily send that your way, too!

Embrace the Future of ELA Education

Digital escape rooms have revolutionized the landscape of education, bringing joy, interactivity, and effective learning outcomes to the forefront. By incorporating these adventures into your ELA instruction, you're not just enhancing your teaching—you're opening doors to an exciting world of language and literature exploration.

Dear educators, are you ready to embark on this digital escapade? Get ready to witness your students' enthusiasm as they crack codes, analyze texts, and sharpen their ELA skills—all while having the time of their lives. The journey to enriching education begins here—dive into the world of digital escape rooms for English Language Arts today!


I've been running digital escape rooms since 2015 and have picked up MANY tricks along the way. In fact, it's probably one of the top questions I get asked by fellow teachers. Because of this, I've decided to run a low-cost workshop covering my style of self-checking digital escape rooms that can be used time and time again with almost zero prep.

Unlock Time & Boost Engagement: Digital ELA Escape Room Two-Day Workshop

Join us for this comprehensive two-day workshop where you'll learn how to seamlessly and easily integrate digital escape rooms into your secondary English Language Arts classroom over two one-hour sessions. Develop captivating storylines, design engaging puzzles, and master the art of using Google Forms, ChatGPT, and Portant data merging to take so much work off of your plate. Whether you're tech-savvy or just starting out, this workshop offers a hands-on experience that will empower you to elevate your teaching approach and captivate your students' learning journey in a way that is simple to implement, will be ready to roll year after year, and self-checks for you, eliminating the need to grade more papers.

Completion certificates will be provided for teachers who complete both sections with documentation for your professional development committee. Please note that every state and school has its own requirements for counting PDC points, so check with your committee ahead of time to see if this activity will count towards your PDC points.

Upcoming Workshop Dates:

Option 1:

September 25th and 26th, 2023

7 pm CST (5 pm PST/6 pm MST/8 pm EST)

Option 2:

September 30th and October 1st, 2023

4 pm CST (2 pm PST/3 pm MST/5 pm EST)

Workshop Schedule

Day 1: Planning and Designing Your Digital Escape Room

Duration: Approximately 1 hour

Part 1: Getting Started and Planning Your Escape Room

- Understanding the concept of digital escape rooms

- Introduction to essential tools and platforms

Part 2: Crafting Your Escape Room Storyline and Puzzles

- Choosing an engaging theme and creating a captivating narrative

- Harnessing ChatGPT for storyline development

Part 3: Building Puzzles and Challenge

- Exploring various puzzle types, including digital cipher wheels, secret codes, crosswords, anagrams, and more

- Creating interactive challenges with digitized games and/or Google Slides

Part 4: Creating Puzzle Elements on Google Forms

- Structuring your escape room with "mini-rooms" or "levels"

- Designing effective locks using Google Forms' features

Day 2: Running and Adapting Your Digital Escape Room

Duration: Approximately 1 hour

Part 5: Designing Certificates and Using Portant Data Merging

- Crafting personalized congratulatory certificates with Google Slides

- Employing Portant data merging for customization and auto-delivery

Part 6: Launching and Managing Your Escape Room

- Preparing the escape room for student engagement

- Step-by-step guide to launching, monitoring, and tracking

Part 7: Adapting to Physical Lock Box Activities

- Exploring options for transitioning to physical lock box activities

Part 8: Hands-On Activity

- Guided hands-on activity: Create your own digital escape room

- Recap of key takeaways, next steps, and resources

Part 9: Q&A, Troubleshooting, and Teacher Sharing

- Engaging in interactive Q&A and group discussions

- Addressing common challenges and sharing progress

Part 10: Continued Support & Collaboration in the Group

- Stay connected in the group for additional support and optionally share your original escape room resources between group members

- Upcoming time-saving workshops for teachers, including a detailed workshop on fully utilizing Portant data merging in your ELA classroom.

*Note: Workshop content is subject to change based on participants' needs and interactions.*


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