Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

To Be or Not to Be? That's a Career Question!

College and Career Readiness

Chelsee Wilson, Bj Sneed | Published: November 17th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course A.P. Language and Composition, A.P. Literature and Composition, American Literature, British Literature, World Literature
  • Duration More 4-5 class periods


What does it mean to have a plan for a postsecondary college or career? This lesson encourages students to explore their career choices and develop a plan to achieve their career goals.

Essential Question(s)

What does it take to achieve the career you want?



Students reflect on their childhood career choices through a Time Scramble activity.


Students explore their interests as they participate in the Career Interest Survey.


Using a KWHL Chart to guide them, students research their chosen career and create an action plan.


Students illustrate their career and action plan by creating an Anchor Chart.


Students participate in a Gallery Walk and turn in their Anchor Charts for evaluation.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Career KWHL and action plan organizer (attached, 1 per student)

  • Career Interest Survey (attached, 1 per student)

  • Pens/pencils

  • Poster paper (1 per student)

  • Paper (1 per group)

  • Markers/crayons/colored pencils

  • Sticky notes

  • Internet

  • Optional Essay Rubric (attached, 1 per student)

  • Anchor Chart Rubric (attached, 1 per student)


20 Minute(s)

Using the attached Lesson Slides, show slide 2 and ask students, “What did you want to do when you were younger?” Allow some time for sharing.

Organize students into five groups to participate in a Time Scramble.

Show slide 3. Once students have organized themselves into groups, give them 5 minutes to write down on a group list any jobs they might have wanted as a child.

Show slide 4. Have groups rotate their papers clockwise to the neighboring group. Give them 4 minutes to read through the list and add any jobs that are on their group list but may not have been included on the neighboring group’s list. If there is a job on the new list they had originally included on their list, have them place a tally mark next to the job(s).

Show slide 5. Have groups rotate their papers again, using the same process for 3 minutes.

Show slide 6. Have groups rotate papers again and repeat process of adding and tallying for 2 minutes.

Show slide 7. Have groups complete one last rotation and take 1 minute to review and add any missing jobs. 

Show slide 8. Have groups rotate back. Make sure that each group has their original list. Give groups a little time to review their edited lists. 

Show slide 9. Ask students the following questions:

  • “What were the most common jobs on the lists?” Allow students time to respond. 

  • “What were some of the more unique jobs on the lists?” Allow students time to respond. 

  • “How do the jobs on the list differ from the careers you want now? Allow students time to respond.

Show slides 10–12 to go over the essential question and learning objectives before moving on.


45 Minute(s)

Show slide 13. Pass out the attached Career Interest Survey - Step 1 handout to students. Give students time to complete the survey. Walk around the room as students work through it. 

Once students have completed the survey, display slide 14 and ask students to total their interests for each page. Their scores should tell them which “career cluster” is of greatest interest to them.

Show slide 15. Pass out the attached Career Interest Survey - Step 2 handout to students. Have students identify their top three career clusters based on their Step 1 results and review the list of careers associated with each of the three career clusters. Ask students to highlight, underline, or star any careers in the clusters that they may be interested in pursuing.

Show slide 16. Ask students to discuss their results with an Elbow Partner. Once pairs have discussed their results, ask for student volunteers to share out their results. Ask them to use the following questions to discuss and to share their results:

  • Did the results match with your interests?

  • Do you want to explore your career clusters further?


120 Minute(s)

Show slide 17. Explain to students that, regardless of the career they would like to have, they should have a plan to achieve it:

  • Doctors require not only a bachelor’s degree but also medical degree, residency, tests, and other certifications. The entire process is lengthy and can be costly.

  • Truck drivers make good money and do not require a degree, but they do require driving school and a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This license is separate from a normal driver’s license and requires a more costly test than a normal license.

Remind students that whatever career they choose, they need a plan.

Pass out the attached Career KWHL Chart to each student. Explain the KWHL strategy to students. Show slides 18–19. At the top, have them fill out their chosen career. 

In the K column, ask students to fill out what they know about their selected career. 

In the W column, ask students to fill out what they need or want to know about their career. 

In the H column, ask students to fill out how they will find that missing information. Could they learn more information about their career through research? Through career interviews? Through job shadowing? 

Once students have completed those three columns, give them time to research their selected careers. Display slide 20 to provide students a list of appropriate websites to use for research.

On the second page of their KWHL chart, have students complete the action plan to narrow down the information they need to locate as they research.


60 Minute(s)

Show slide 21. Assign students to either create an Anchor Chart or to write an essay detailing the information they have researched about their chosen career. Pass out the attached Anchor Chart Rubric, which describes the requirements and expectations for this assignment.

The Career Anchor Charts should include the following:

  • Selected career

  • Brief explanation of the career

  • Requirements for that career (e.g., CDL, hospital residency, board certifications)

  • Chosen school and admission requirements

  • Funding sources

  • Relevant images


30 Minute(s)

After students have completed their Anchor Charts, have students hang them up in a display around the room.

Show slide 22. Review instructions for a Gallery Walk. Ask them to view each Anchor Chart poster and provide thoughtful, constructive feedback on sticky notes.

Show slide 23. Once students have completed the Gallery Walk, have them make any revisions recommended by their classmates.

Show slide 24. Have students complete the L column of their KWHL Chart with what they have learned about their chosen career.

Students can turn in their KWHL Chart and action plan, their Anchor Charts, and their essays (if assigned) for evaluation.