2014 Sharing Is Caring 2

Sarah Thomas

Prince Georges County Public Schools (DC)
2014 Winner for Sharing is Caring Award (Tie)
About Sharing is Caring Award

Shares resources freely with peers and professional communities, actively contributes to a community of practice, and continuously evolves a personal learning network.

Provide an overview of the project, practice or product that your video represents, and how your work encompasses the principles and ideals of the award that you're applying for.

Sharing truly is caring. What I care about is connecting. My journey to becoming a connected educator began over a year ago, when I created a Twitter account dedicated to educational technology, @sarahdateechur. I began to build a PLN of talented educators around the world through Twitter and other social media. Not being content with being a consumer of information, I began using social media for collaboration.

In December 2013, I started to produce interactive tutorials about technology integration for educators via Google Hangouts on Air. These GHOAs dealt with a variety of topics, including gamification, Google tools, and coding, among others. This allowed me to make connections with other educators around the globe, and opened doors to collaboration. In the past year, I have presented at over 20 conferences, in six states and two countries, and online.

After attending Edcamp NJ, I was inspired to create an edcamp in my county, so that educators there could also connect and collaborate. Our first online edcamp, JHFI Home Edition, was held in February 2014, with an in-person edcamp held a month later.

Over the summer, I continued to pursue opportunities to connect and grow. One highlight was ISTE, where I presented "Gamification on a Shoestring" with Shelly Sanchez Terrell. In the days prior to that, I attended Google Teacher Academy and became familiar with the concept of moonshot thinking. I was inspired to see what could happen if I was no longer afraid to fail.

The first step was to establish a Google Educator Group. Although we are based in the DC Metro Area, we have an international group of educators. Recently, I created Edu Match, a free service to connect educators based on common areas of interest. In the coming months, I am planning an online conference for December.

Explain the long-lasting impact of what you've presented in this video, and provide any qualitative or quantitative data that supports this impact.

From October 2013 to October 2014, I have presented at more than 20 conferences, in six states, in two countries and online. With over 9,000 educators in my PLN, I have been exposed to a multitude of great ideas that have shaped my teaching. It has been my goal to share this learning back to the educational community.

In December 2014, I started using YouTube as a tool for collaboration, to provide educators tips on technology integration (https://www.youtube.com/user/sarahdateechur). These videos have received over 10,000 views, the most popular one on gamification. I have also presented at ISTE and the Gaming in Ed conference on this topic. In addition, I have written an article for Microsoft about how educators can gamify their classes (http://www.pil-network.com/HotTopics/gamesbasedlearning/levelupteaching).

I have founded three county-wide edcamps since February, with a combined total of approximately 150 attendees. We are planning to have a larger edcamp in the near future. The DC Metro Area Google Educator Groups currently has over 200 members, with approximately 40 participating in the Voxer backchannel.

At the time of this writing, Edu Match is less than a week old; however, educators have already taken to it. There are already more than 20 educators signed up to be promoted, and we are continuing to grow. In addition, I plan to continue to build the "Teechurs Unite" app, in order to increase the amount of collaboration facilitated by the tool. One component will be an area for educators to share and collaborate on professional projects.

Finally, I have organized a team to begin planning an online conference in December. This conference will contain several simultaneous presentations in six different strands. I am very excited about the possibilities for all that lie ahead in the future, and vow to continue spreading the benefits of collaboration and connection.

Tie Winner for Sharing is Caring Award

Rachel Iufer