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RTC Advances Efforts to Upgrade Broadband Infrastructure in Delaware Schools

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As Delaware educators, we fully understand the value of technology in education. Technology pervades our daily lives and routines—especially for young people—and tech skills are increasingly in-demand in the workplace.

 

In our classrooms, we utilize digital tools and platforms like Schoology and Kahoot to deliver lessons, pop quizzes, keep track of student progress, and so much more. Technology is supposed to make our classrooms more streamlined and engaging—but it isn’t always that simple.

 

We should be able to just press a button and turn on a computer or iPad for our students, but this year we learned that Delaware has a patchwork system to provide broadband services to schools and it’s often unclear where the problems lie when something doesn’t work in our classrooms.

Broadband: High-speed data transmission in which a single cable can carry a large amount of data at once.Student-Centered Learning Structures

While Delaware has made dramatic advances in both networking technology and the types of online content available, some schools still see repeated issues when it comes to harnessing the power of technology in the classroom. Plus, with new devices being added to the network every year to accommodate an increase in tech-enabled teaching and learning, the state’s broadband capacity will have to be updated regularly just simply to keep up with the growing demand.

 

And if we don’t act soon? Slow internet speeds, crashed servers, and an overall inability to provide digital instruction for our students.

 

Last fall, one of our teacher council members attempted to teach a civics lesson where 30 students were required to log onto YouTube, watch historic presidential debates, and then compare them to the contentious Trump-Clinton showdowns happening at the time. The students eagerly grabbed their devices, hit the on button, and began the assignment. Now imagine their disappointment (and the teacher’s!) when a few short minutes later the YouTube videos stopped loading and the class was unable to complete the assignment.

 

It’s frustrating! A big part of the problem is a lack of transparency around this issue. There are so many agencies and entities that coordinate school technology: state, district, and even school-level decisions and investments affect outcomes. There’s currently no way for teachers, parents, or community member to find out how connected their school is, or how their school’s infrastructure compares with others.

 

Here is an example. Many of us use a program called Kahoot in our classrooms to deliver quizzes in a fun way. For some of us, the platform loads in less than a minute. Others? Close to 10 minutes. Are they merely using two different browsers? Is it a matter of too many students logging in at once? Or does one district just have more bandwidth than the other? We don’t know!

Bandwidth: Capacity of internet access; greater bandwidth allows more information to travel more quickly over internet connections.Student-Centered Learning Structures

As the Rodel Teacher Council broadband working group, we believe that Delaware should provide adequate access to school-level broadband. And, to achieve this goal, the state needs to invest in increasing connectivity and providing the public with information on broadband infrastructure.

 

Over the past year, we collaborated with local and state leaders to develop and advocate for a policy that would require an annual review and public reporting of school-level broadband.

 

The policy passed during this year’s legislative session and soon the Department of Education and Department of Technology and Information will conduct the annual review using an existing performance-reporting tool.

 

The annual public report will tell us where additional bandwidth is needed in order to support equitable planning and investment in districts, schools, and students as well as allow districts to learn from one another on how to maximize bandwidth for the benefit of their students.

 

We know there is more work to be done but we are also thrilled to see the inclusion and passing of this policy in our state. We look forward to analyzing the data from the annual report and collaborating to identify solutions that benefit our students, fellow educators, and schools.

Broadband Working Group members include:

  • Karen Eller, Stubbs Elementary School, Christina School District
  • Stephanie Diggins, William Penn High School, Colonial School District
  • Joyce Lester, Bayard Middle School, Christina School District
  • Michael Paoli, Hodgson Vocational Technical High School, New Castle County Vocational Technical School District

Meet Tiffany Trawick

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Hello! My name is Tiffany Trawick and I am excited to join the Rodel Foundation of Delaware as an operations assistant.

I was born in Wilmington and moved at age nine to New Jersey where I lived until shortly after the birth of my first child. It was at that time I realized I wanted a more carefree environment for my family so we decided to uproot and replant ourselves in Delaware.

During this time, I also realized I needed to complete the education plan I had created for myself while living in New Jersey. Delaware State University (DSU) served as home as well as a place of employment for my journey. With the full support of my amazing family, I attended school full time while also serving as the senior secretary for the Department of Housing and Residential Education and later the communications and tour coordinator for the Office of Admissions. In 2013, I successfully obtained my B.S. in psychology.

Following my time at DSU, I accepted an executive coordinator position at the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. For close to three years, I commuted daily to D.C. from Delaware and back and eventually realized, for the sake of my youth and my family, it would be best for me to find another opportunity closer to home.

Because it had always been a desire of mine to explore the nonprofit world, I found myself in Philadelphia as the very active regional executive coordinator of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross. I felt a real connection with the Mission of this organization and will never forget the volunteers as well as connections I made during my time there. However, I knew that my passion would always encompass education.

My passion for education stems from my upbringing, as my mother was the director of guidance at Plainfield High School (NJ) and then vice principal of Rahway High School (NJ), while my father was a child psychologist with the Newark Public Schools (NJ). My parents met at DSU, which is another reason why it will always hold a near and dear spot in my heart.  As a child, I can remember always being on a college campus or in a school even if I was not enrolled in classes there.  In some way, shape, or form I was always learning every single day.

I am positive the Rodel Foundation of Delaware is the best place for me to be with endless opportunities to learn and grow personally on a daily basis as well as to assist with “helping Delaware build one of the finest systems of public education in the world.”

Outside of work, I enjoy spending my time with my two sons, 14-year-old Aiden and three-year-old Randy, and their father, Victor. I also love to cook, read, watch YouTube vegan cooking channels, and have a thirst for swimming, camping, and hiking. My secret obsession is binge watching Netflix shows and any of my favorite regular season shows on Xfinity On Demand because I can never seem to watch anything at its normally scheduled time.

Community Collaboration: Hodgson Vo-Tech and LACC

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A group of Hodgson Vocational Technical High School students traveled to the Latin American Community Center (LACC). What was their goal? To spread the word about good dental hygiene and gain meaningful real world experience.

The Hodgson Vo-Tech students enrolled in the school’s dental assistant program are learning how to work alongside professional dentists as they examine and treat patients. While at the LACC, these students received the opportunity to demonstrate their newfound knowledge and skills on the children attending the LACC’s early childhood program. The students worked alongside professional dentist Dr. Nitchel Bastien as she provided close to 10 free examinations.

Also in attendance at the LACC were Hodgson students who are participating in advanced Spanish courses. They served as translators throughout the day and helped facilitate three activities for the LACC children to complete as they waited for their dental examination. The Hodgson students developed the activities summarized below.

Station One: Good Food vs. Bad Food = Comidas Saludables vs. Comidas Dañinas

The Hodgson dental assistant and Spanish students taught the children what foods are good and bad for their teeth. The children identified and stuck cut-out pictures of food onto a large poster in the shape of a mouth.

Big Mouth
Big Mouth8
Big Mouth 6

Station Two: How Many Teeth Are In My Mouth? = ¿Cuántos Dientes Hay En Mi Boca?

By the end of the day, the children at the LACC were able to count how many teeth they have. The Hodgson Spanish students counted with the children in Spanish and English while the dental assistant students encouraged the children to create a replica of the mouth using marshmallows and other craft supplies.

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Station Three: How To Brush = Cómo Cepillarse Los Dientes

At the last station, Hodgson dental assistant students presented a two-minute review on the proper way to brush teeth. A song, sung in Spanish by the Hodgson students, accompanied the presentation.

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The entire day was a blast! The Hodgson students left feeling energized as well as equipped with a better understanding of content they are learning in class.

I would like to give a special shout out to my colleagues and partners listed below for all of their hard work in making this collaboration and experience for the students possible.

  • Bonita Green, Spanish Instructor at Hodgson Vocational and Technical High School
  • Michelle Rabinovitch, Special Education Teacher at Hodgson Vocational and Technical High School
  • Christina Hampton, Dental Assistant Instructor at Hodgson Vocational and Technical High School
  • Wanda Burgos-Rincon, Director of Youth Development at the Latin American Community Center
  • Adrianna Viveros, Latin American Community Center

By Tim Brewer, Instructional Technology Coach at Hodgson Vocational and Technical High School

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