Month 09 GSM Entry

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Month 9 Game Strategies and Motivation

Describe in detail the methods, quantitative, qualitative or mixed approach, that you used for cycle 1 data.

I collected both quantitative and qualitative data during my implementation of cycle 1. Quantitatively, I kept track of students’ performance on daily quizzes. Since daily quizzing was an element of my class both before and after implementation, students’ quiz results can be used to evaluate student comprehension in both a traditional and a flipped classroom.

The pre- and post-implementation online surveys ask the students to self-report their responses to the flipped classroom quantitatively and qualitatively. They are asked to gauge their understanding and engagement on objective scales and also to describe them in open-ended survey questions.

Describe, synthesize and compare data found for cycle 1 and cycle 2

Between cycles 1 and 2, I did not find any significant changes in students’ performance on quizzes. This suggests no major improvement or decline in their understanding of the course material.

There was no significant change in the amount of time that students reported spending on homework each week. The average hovered around three hours per week for each student.

Between cycles 1 and 2, I found a decline in the number of students who reported that Physics was their “most challenging” class. I saw a corresponding increase in the number who described it as “about average.”

I did not find any significant difference in the study methods that students reported using to prepare for Physics between cycles 1 and 2. On average, they reported spending the same amount of time working in groups, the same amount of time working one-on-one with the instructor, and the same amount of time reviewing the interactive digital textbook.

The students reported an overall increase in the motivation that they felt to complete homework assignments in cycle 2 as compared with cycle 1.

In cycle 2, significantly fewer students reported feeling that they had to “teach themselves” the material.

Describe the ways that GSM contributed to your action research.

The flipped classroom format is designed to make class time more engaging for students. The technology available to students and teachers today enables the passive consumption of lecture material to take place at home, so that students can take full advantage of contact time with their teachers to do demanding critical thinking exercises in class. This goal is intimately tied to the philosophy of gaming and motivation–that immersive, hands-on, experience-based learning is ultimately more valuable to students than other, more passive forms.

Although my action research project is restricted in scope to examine the effectiveness of flipped classrooms in engaging students, a natural extension of this project would incorporate ever more challenging and immersive classroom activities, including games. To name just a few ideas I have for extending this project, my Physics students could use a game of Angry Birds to analyze projectile motion, or evaluate the validity of the game rules in the Battle Room described by Orson Scott Card in Ender’s Game.

Provide feedback to other students’ blogs in the comments field.

Click here for my feedback on Amanda Rhymer’s project as she implements technology to improve motivation in her Biology class.

Click here for my feedback on Joe Marquez’s project, in which he makes engaging multimedia presentations for his students in science.


Gaming and Motivation Lesson Plan


The name of the game is SMART Graffiti!

In my Action Research project, I implemented a flipped or inverted classroom model in my high school Physics course. This opened up time in class for students to perform more collaborative and critical-thinking based activities. The game explained below illustrates the sort of activity that I might have used in class to replace traditional lecture.

One of the biggest challenges that science students face is how to respond cogently to short answer or essay-based questions. It is difficult for them to cull all of their knowledge of a complex topic, pick out important ideas and key terms, and then write about them succinctly. Smart Graffiti is aimed at helping students to link the new vocabulary terms that they have learned in Physics class to broader concepts. In this way, they will be better able to focus their written responses on formal assessments.


Smart Graffiti is played in teams of three students. For my class of 18 students, that makes six teams total. Each of the teams has one turn at the SMART Board. Since the sequence of play is not significant to its outcome, the order of the teams’ turns can be decided at random—say, with the roll of a die. Because the game is played using a SMART Board, I would probably elect to use one of the text-based Flash dice that are included in the SMART Notebook software package. I use text-based dice because I encourage my students to create team names whenever possible–with the condition that the name reflects our course material. I find that this is a fast and easy way to ensure that students have a mental list of all the major topics we have covered. They’re much more eager to review their notes for the sake of creating a team name than the are for purely study purposes!

The game is designed to last about 60 minutes. Gameplay is restricted to 35 minutes, but an extra 10 minutes are allotted for switching turns, keeping score, etc., and it is vital to allow time for discussion following each round of play.


Directions for the game will be projected on the SMART Board at the beginning of class (see below). The students will have the chance to ask questions before the start of gameplay. This introduction to the game is not expected to last more than 10 minutes. Students are free to ask the instructor to clarify the instructions for gameplay throughout the game; if one student should break any rule, her team is disqualified from the round in session and cannot earn any points until the start of the next round.

The BIG WORD appears on the center of the SMART Board on a Notebook page. BIG WORDS are really big concepts that the students have learned about extensively. They would include major ideas such as “Newton’s first law of motion,” “centripetal force” or “satellite motion.” These are big enough concepts that students should be able to connect them to many other key terms or “connection words” they have learned.


The active team works at the SMART Board. Each team member holds a SMART pen so that she can write down CONNECTIONS on the Board.

The inactive teams work on iPads. Each inactive team has one iPad on which they can type or write down their key terms and equations. The iPads are all linked to an Apple TV that is hooked up to the same projector as the SMART Board. So, immediately after the active team’s three minutes are up, the inactive teams all have the ability to “take control” of the projector and display their own screens in hopes of finding CONNECTIONS that the active team missed.


Smart Graffiti is designed to be a review game, and it works best if students have a breadth of knowledge from which they can draw. I would use this game to review for a midterm or final exam. In the case of my Action Research project, that material would include momentum, uniform circular motion and gravitation.

This game-based lesson should help the students to make connections between all the topics they have learned. Following the game, I expect them to be able to answer conceptual physics questions using the vocabulary they learned throughout the year.


In Smart Graffiti, each team has its chance to “shine,” since the advantage in any given round lies with the team at the SMART Board. Short-term victories include winning points for the first six rounds. Long-term victory goes to the team who accumulates the most points over the course of the game.

Positive behaviors, which include following the rules of the game, making as many CONNECTIONS as possible, and gambling wisely to earn extra points during an inactive round, are all rewarded with points. Negative behavior, including breaking the rules of the game, is punished with expulsion from the round in session and the loss of any potential points earned therein. Unwise gambling—projecting from an iPad without having sufficient CONNECTIONS to upstage the active team at the SMART Board—is punished with a loss of points.


Physics is a wonderfully rich and story-based discipline. For any natural event or observation, a trained physicist can derive a link to physical laws. Thus, the story behind this game is really a collection of stories that the students imagine as they play. For example, consider a team faced with the BIG WORD “centripetal force.” In order to successfully create CONNECTIONS, the students must think about how centripetal force plays a role in their lives. They might imagine themselves driving on a banked curve, riding a roller coaster, or even flying in a space shuttle. In other words, the winners of the game are those students who are most immersed in the story of Physics. These stories can be thoroughly flushes out during the discussions that emerge following each round, when the entire class has the chance to review the CONNECTIONS made by the active team at the SMART Board.


Following all six regular rounds, students play the Ultimate Graffiti round, during which all teams compete on their iPads. During this round, the BIG WORD is a really big word—one with many more potential CONNECTIONS than the previous big words. All groups compete in this round, and the team that finishes after five minutes with the most valid CONNECTIONS is awarded 10 points.

The winning team has the most points after six rounds of regular play and the Ultimate Graffiti round.


Assessment for the students comes when the instructor considers their CONNECTIONS. The great thing about the assessment stage is that it prompts discussion. Why did the instructor award a point for associating “kinetic friction” with KINEMATICS, but not “static friction?” Let’s discuss it!


One of my Physics classes lasts 75 minutes, so there should be enough time to play six five-minute rounds and one Ultimate Graffiti round, including allowances for discussions that arise in between. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the game, there is not much opportunity for timing adjustments once it has started; however, given greater time constraints, an instructor could create fewer teams or eliminate the Ultimate Graffiti round.

Fun and motivation

Smart Graffiti is designed to be highly interactive, cooperative and competitive. The most successful teams will not only think critically about the Physics involved, but they will also work together to generate ideas. In the all-girls environment in which I teach, cooperative activities are extremely popular among the students because they facilitate interaction. The added element of competition between different teams enhances the fun aspect of the game.

Smart Graffiti is built upon the incentive theory of motivation, which suggests that the students will be motivated to play the game and to excel at it because of the external reward—points—that success entails. It is hoped that students view these points as sufficient reward so as to render them a positive reinforcement for successful gameplay. Negative punishment would be introduced into the game if students were to break the rules of the game, in which case their team would be prohibited from gameplay for one round.

  1. Kim,

    I told my faculty about the flipped classroom model after reading about you AR project. I am glad you were successful in engaging your students. Using Angry Birds to analyze projectile motion would be a great project because it is simple to play and fun. I would love to know how that works out.

  2. Excellent blog responses. You have collected data to measure and report. I am looking forward to reviewing your cycles.

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