B5’s adult students learn to speak, read, and write English, as well as understand when they hear English spoken. But for most students, B5 adds more — Digital Literacy. Digital Literacy classes at B5 teach students about using computers and the internet, as well as letting them use computers to learn and practice the English language.
Jenni Alexander, B5’s Digital Literacy teacher, was interested in working with refugees and immigrants. She had experience working with folks from the Marshall Islands. Professionally, she taught math. In the process of a job search, she learned of an opening at B5. She realized her master’s degree work in Instructional Design, focused around online learning, would apply to this position, and let her serve refugees. She has been teaching in the LEP Pathways program since January. Now all students (after they pass the very first language level) spend part of their morning in the computer room with her. Jenni teaches them basic skills like logging in and doing google searches. She teaches internet safety. Students also use the computer to practice vocabulary and grammar.
Jenni finds and creates lessons for her students. They are self-paced, and different for each language level. With the help of volunteers like Valerie Schultz and Suzanne Benfield, students can also use the computer lab to fill out job applications and do other on-line tasks. It’s challenging to create lessons that engage adults whose language level may be quite low. Jenni says it’s trial and error sometimes. But she is inspired by her students. “I … grow from their courage. Whether it’s hearing [their] stories or just seeing how they come and they try new things.”