Last night I read about Wiffiti on Liz Kolb’s blog. At this site you can can set up a page to which people can text information. Using Liz’s idea of Wiffiti as a brainstorming activity, I set my students to work with the topic “What do you know about elements, compounds, and mixtures?” While this message was posted on the screen in the front of the room, students text-ed their responses. About half of my students had text message enabled cell phones and so far 50+ messages have been sent to my page. The experience has been…interesting. Here are a few things I learned.
1. Kids don’t text as fast as I thought they would.
2. In spite of posting a very clear topic, students will still post random messages. Fortunately, Wiffiti has filtering built in and you can always go and delete a message. You can also block certain senders. On top of that, I found the following warning to my students to be quite helpful and it put an end to the “hi” and smiley faces that kept popping up.
“I believe students can use cell phones as a learning tool. Think of the teacher you know who hates cell phones. If you post inappropriate or off topic messages you will be proving that person right and me wrong…and your phones will be disappearing forever into your pocket.”
3. For some reason Wiffiti numbers each message and from what I can tell there is no way to reset the numbers. I also noticed that there is no way to make your first post stay on the screen while others are added and there seems to be no “off switch” where you can still read the page, but senders can no longer send messages. If any Wiffiti people read this, please add those features.
Overall, I found Wiffiti to be quite useful. With a few additional classroom management tools thrown in our next experience should run a little smoother. My middle school students were fully engaged during this activity. Not an eye left the screen or cell phone and students were discussing and posting off of the messages that popped up. Pretty cool!