Middle school is a prime opportunity to engage students in focused career exploration. Students are empowered with a growing sense of self-awareness and exposure to a variety of careers is crucial at this time. During middle school, students develop opinions that will shape the classes they select in high school and the careers they pursue after graduation. Exposing middle grades students to STEM careers may encourage more students to pursue jobs in computer science and math. This exposure can help to attract greater diversity to a growing field of in-demand jobs (Boyington, 2018). Glessner and et al. add that engaging middle grades students in successful career exploration experiences builds self-efficacy (Glessner and et al., 2017). Glessner and et al. think that this increased self-efficacy, could encourage students to graduate high school and remain focused on achieving career goals (Glessner and et al., 2017).
Career Exploration Supports SEL
In June 2019, the Ohio Department of Education adopted the Social and Emotional Learning Standards. These include standards which encourage the development of self-awareness, a trait that can help students accomplish personal goals and explore career paths. Through self-assessment of personal interests, strengths, and skills, and reflection on preferences for work environments, middle-grade students can build an awareness to help them prepare for their future. Next, students can explore education and training required using ODE's Career Connections Frameworks. To learn more about how INFOhio resources support social and emotional learning, visit the Teach with INFOhio blog for our series on INFOhio Resources Support Social Emotional Learning for grades 6-8.
What can grade 6-8 teachers do?
Supported by the Ohio Department of Education, Success Bound provides resources for educators that debunk decades of career education practice. Success Bound is changing the way we approach career education with promising practices from classrooms across Ohio. Here are some suggestions from the What Can I Do? Educator Factsheet.
Implementing Career Exploration in the Classroom with INFOhio
Wondering where to start with career research projects? Don't have the time to curate career resources for your students? Pique career curiosity among your students with INFOhio resources. INFOhio has quality, vetted resources available at no cost to support career research and inquiry projects, with access to meaningful assessments to cultivate a self-awareness, and librarian-approved web-resources about careers from accountant to zookeeper.
Visit INFOhio's Career Exploration for Middle Grades (6-8) page for career exploration resources. To learn more about how to implement INFOhio's grades 6-8 resources into the classroom, visit INFOhio Campus, and discover Success in Six. Within Success in Six, explore Develop Career Ready Students to learn more about incorporating career exploration instruction into your classroom.
Inspire career curiosity with IWonder, a collection of age-appropriate, librarian-selected websites on a range of topics about career exploration. Students can continue to build self-awareness through a variety of skills and interest assessments with My Next Move. Ready for the next step? Students can explore websites to learn more about different jobs, how to plan for the future, and careers in the growing field of information technology. NASA Career Corner is designed for students in grades 5-8 to highlight the career opportunities at NASA for artists, writers, and educators.
In partnership with Broadcast Educational Media Commission (BEMC), INFOhio's Digital Video Collection (DVC) provides a growing list of videos featuring in-demand careers. Many videos were developed with support from the Ohio Department of Education's Career Connections and feature Ohio professionals sharing the highlights of their profession. From accountant to marketing specialist to youth program director, students will get a sneak peek into careers that align with their interests, likes, and strengths.
Students often find inspiration in the stories of those who overcome adversity to find success in rewarding careers. Consider using World Book Student, Biography Center, to integrate career exploration into your content area curriculum. Search for biographies by area of work/interest.
Use the inquiry process to drive career research. INFOhio resources are designed and selected with the inquiry process in mind, making them perfect for facilitating student research. Consider using Explora for Grades 6-8, which allows you to search a variety of EBSCO databases applicable to grade 6-8 learners. Articles are available in a variety of formats, including HTML and PDF. Read-aloud and save-to-cloud features make accessing and saving articles easy for your students.
Guiding career research projects is just one opportunity for teachers across all content areas to support career exploration. Need some help with teaching research and inquiry? GO! Ask, Act, Achieve is the go-to resource for teachers and students for research and inquiry projects large and small. Discover resources to support students as they collect information, locate resources, and develop creative career research projects. Find all the help you need at GO! Ask, Act, Achieve!
Looking for Career Exploration Lesson Plans?
Search over 79,000 standards-aligned lesson plans, instructional resources, and more from one location with INFOhio's Educator Tools! Content is curated and evaluated by Knovation using a 127-point rubric. Use limiters to search for Career and Technical Education. Narrow results further by adding grade level and item type limiters. Find lesson plans that allow students to explore careers related to any content area.
Middle school can be challenging for students as new learning environments and changes in relationships with peers can leave many feeling isolated, frustrated, and disengaged. But with focused career exploration, instruction, and intervention, students can become empowered and connected to their learning experience. A growing sense of empowerment builds self-awareness and confidence to pursue career goals in high school.