Congratulations to our 2014 Siemens Summer of Learning Fellows!


Wiffiti...Collecting Data from Students…via Text Message

Welcome to a another post from one of our past Siemens STEM Institute Fellows.  Joe Slifka, is an outstanding educator from the state of  Ohio. Along with being a past STEM Institute Fellow, Joe is an amazing teacher providing ninth graders at Liberty High School  in Youngstown, Ohio a real STEMaptitude for physical science. In this post, Joe provides a way to engage your students  using some incredible Web 2.0 Technology.  After reading what Joe has to share we are sure you will want to explore other upcoming  Siemens STEM Academy blog posts filled with great resources for those interested in integrating technology in their STEM classroom! Don't miss out, perhaps now is a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad. Thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy and enjoy the post!  - Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech

In my classroom, I do what I call Bellringer activities. Simply put, it is two or three questions that they have just a few minutes to answer right as class starts. I do this to transition from "crazy hallway mode" to "science class mode". Initially, I would change the animations to keep the kids wondering how the timer would work (a picture would fade in, a sun would set, etc.), but the novelty wore off, and even though I was essentially giving away points (I would give five participation points just for completing the questions on the screen) they moaned and groaned when I said "take out a half sheet of paper".

Wiffiti essentially takes away the paper. Some of my students would come into class with no paper, no books, not even anything to write with. But they have their cell phone! Now, it may be a bit passé, but at some point we as educators are going to have to admit that we will lose the war on cell phones in the classroom. As the old saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Produced by LocaModa, you may have seen something similar at a concert or sporting event you’ve been to. In Wiffiti, you create a screen and it automatically generates a text code for you. You text a message to a number, type the "@code" and your message and hit send, and -POOF- it shows up on the screen! The computer assigns a nickname to the cell phone number. I simply start out the year telling my students to text their name to the Wiffiti page, and I record the names to their moniker (and if you use the same page for all year, you can just edit the timeline clearing out old answers). Keeping the same nickname will provide accountability for the students. My ruse to keep them honest! Our district (like the rest in our county) bans student cell phone use. My practice... if they type something inappropriate, I take their phone and turn it in to the office as well as a copy of their post. There are also filters on the pages. If you have a "G" rating on your page and someone sends obscene words to the page, those words will not show up on the public page.

Remember to follow your district AUP and remind students to not include personal or identifying information in their messages. Also, there is a major update coming soon, including comment moderation, better performance, improved filters, and TwicPic, yFrog, and Instagram photos. For more information you may wish to sign up for the beta release at

About The Author : Joe Slifka

Joe Slifka of Youngstown, OH received his Master’s in Teaching and Learning : K-12 Technology Integration from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and a Bachelor’s in Middle Childhood Education specializing in Math and Science from Youngstown State University. He currently teaches ninth grade physical science at Liberty High School. Mr. Slifka was named a Turning Technologies Distinguished Educator in February of 2010. He also serves on the committee of his local chapter of Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Joe has always believed that technology will enhance the educational process. “I am really excited to take what I learn at the Siemens STEM Institute and apply it to my classroom activities and share that knowledge with my fellow teachers throughout my district and county.”

We sure hope you find a unique way to bring Wiffiti into your classroom.  Don't miss out on other great posts and resources dedicated to STEM education. Now is a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad. You may even wish to share this post with others via a quick email or even a tweet!  We do hope we have given you  another great reason to give us a follow  on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad.  Have a great week and a big thank you to  Joe  for sharing a wonderful Web 2.0 resource.Take some time and start making your own STEMtastic learning connections... today. - Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Posted on April 24, 2012 by Michael Gorman

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Meet the Contributors

Mike Gorman

Mike is an advocate for transforming education and bringing 21st Century Skills to classrooms. He was awarded Indiana STEM Educator of the Year and honored as a Microsoft 365 Global Education Hero.
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Lance Rougeux

Lance has been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer and was recently highlighted in The Emergency Teacher, a book about urban teaching.
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Kyle Schutt

Kyle has worked with educators throughout the country to help them better understand how technology and digital media can be used to support instruction, motivate students, and increase passion for learning.
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