Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Be ProACTive

Connecting Coursework to Future Goals in College and Career

Lindsey Link, Alex Holmes, Jessica Trotter | Published: July 5th, 2022 by K20 Center


This lesson focuses on engaging students to understand how their academic coursework connects to and affects their futures. Students reflect on their current level of academic performance, learn about the PreACT, take the PreACT, play the game Get a Life!, review and understand their PreACT scores, and reflect on their next steps to ensure college or career success.

Essential Question(s)

How will the PreACT help connect my current coursework to my future goals in college and career?



Students participate in Commit and Toss based on PreACT questions.


Students learn what the PreACT is and why they are taking it. Students take the PreACT.


Students play Get a Life.

  • Students choose a career that interests them and complete a Pre-flection exercise to activate their prior knowledge about educational requirements and work-life balance.

  • Students play the Get a Life game and complete a 3-2-1 activity about the relationships between career, income, and education.

  • Students compare the observations they made in the 3-2-1 activity after playing the game to research career satisfaction.

  • Students play the Get a Life game multiple times with specific challenge parameters.

  • Students return to the Pre-flection exercise and discuss what they have learned about the relationship between education, income, and careers.


After test scores come in, students learn how to read them and what they mean.


Students reflect on their PreACT results and the outcomes.


  • Lesson Slides - Be ProACTive (attached)

  • Commit and Toss - Be ProACTive (attached; one per student)

  • Exit Ticket - Be ProACTive (attached; one per student)

  • Advisory lesson for Get a Life; Lesson 12 - Goals (attached)

  • Character Sheet and Achievements (attached)

  • 3-2-1 Activity (attached; one per student)

  • Career Lesson Cards (attached)

  • Career Cluster Information Sheets (attached)

  • Research Brief (attached)

  • K20 Game Portal Teacher Account

  • Writing Materials - Pen, Pencil, Paper, etc.

  • 6-sided Die or another randomizer

  • Career Cluster Activities

    • Bingo (linked below)

    • Career Cluster Interest Survey (linked below)

    • Life is a Highway (linked below)


15 Minute(s)

Begin the lesson with the title slide on the attached Lesson Slides.

Display slide 3. Pass out the attached Commit and Toss handout and share the instructional strategy with students.

  • Have students answer the three questions on their half sheet of paper and tell them not to include their names.

  • Once they have completed this, instruct them to crumple up their paper into a ball and toss it to the front of the classroom.

  • Have each student come up and pick up a “Commit and Toss” sheet of paper.

  • Ask them to read over the responses on the paper they have selected and consider how it relates to their own responses.

  • Ask students to share some of the things that stuck out to them most while reading what their peers had to say.

Display slide 4. Share the essential question with students, “How will the PreACT help connect my current coursework to my future goals in college and career?”

Display slide 5. Share the learning objectives for the lesson:

  1. Reflect on their current level of academic performance and post-secondary goals as they relate to their PreACT results.

  2. Understand the purpose of the PreACT.


150 Minute(s)

Ask students if they know what the PreACT is and what it does. Display slide 6. Give students background on the PreACT. Be sure to inform them that the PreACT is the test they will take before they take the ACT in 11th and 12th grades.

Display slide 7. Provide students with basic information on what the PreACT looks like.

Provide students with the attached PreACT At a Glance and the PreACT Overview handouts to share with their parents.

Display slide 8. It is time for students to take the PreACT!


180 Minute(s)

Congratulations! The students have completed their PreACT! Now, it’s time to wait for their scores.

Display slide 9. Introduce the game, Get a Life! to the students.


60 Minute(s)

Once students’ scores have arrived, it is time to review what they mean. Display slide 18 to share the basic information on the PreACT scoring system, including the following:

  • Score Range. The Score Range is an estimate of a student’s educational performance. Scores will fall within this range.

  • Benchmark Score. The Benchmark score is where students need to be in order to be ready for first-year college courses.

  • Composite Score. The Composite score is the average of the English, math, reading, and science test scores.

  • STEM Score. The STEM score is the average of the math and science test scores.

Display slide 19. Share Ann C. Taylor’s reading score. Ann is a fictional student with made-up test scores to help students understand how to read their own reports. Share the score, score range, graph, and benchmark score on the image. Provide students with a few minutes to consider whether or not she is where she should be with her reading skills at this time.

Display slide 20. This slide displays the complete student report for Ann. Ask students to determine if Ann is where she needs to be based on her current composite and STEM scores. How do they know? Ask them explain their reasoning.

At this time, pass out students’ complete PreACT Score Sheets. Have them review their scores. Provide them with a few minutes of reflection time as they read through their composite scores. Encourage them to jot down any notes or thoughts they have in the margins of their papers.

Share with students that both the PreACT and ACT measure college readiness skills as they progress through high school.

Display slide 21. Explain the concept of Predicted ACT Composite Score Range. Stress that these scores are estimates, NOT guarantees! Students can use these predicted scores to see if they are on target to receive the scores they want when they take the ACT.

If their scores are not where they want them to be, encourage them to meet with their guidance counselor to discuss additional courses might improve their skills. Provide a few minutes of reflection time as students read through their predicted ACT composite scores. Encourage them to jot down any notes or thoughts they have in the margins of their papers.

Display slide 22. Share the breakdown of information that students will see on their Detailed Results page. Share with them that each of the subject tests is broken down into reporting categories.  These are the topics the questions are based on. For example, in Math they will see the following reporting categories:

  • Number & Quantity

  • Algebra

  • Functions

  • Geometry

  • Statistics & Probability

  • Integrating Essential Skills

  • Modeling

Each reporting category lists the following:

  • The number of correct answers for the section over the total number of questions asked;

  • A percentage of correct responses;

  • A small bar graph to show this percentage and help students visualize their strengths and areas needing improvement.

Display slide 23. Ann’s detailed report shows math reporting categories. Point out the following details about Ann’s performance with Functions:

  • In the second column, Ann correctly answered 4/5 Function questions.

  • She scored 80% in the Percent Correct column.

  • The bar graph shows her 4/5 (80%) score.

Display slide 24. Ask students to examine the report and consider whether or not she is where she should be with Functions at this time.

  • Based on these data, are there areas where Ann needs additional support?

    • What are Ann’s strongest subjects?

    • Are there questions about the report?

Provide students with a few minutes of reflection time as they read through their detailed reports. Encourage them to jot down any notes or thoughts they have in the margins of their papers.

Display slide 25. Discuss the elements of a Career Map with students. The Career Map breaks down how career areas differ in their involvement with four basic work tasks:

  • People - help, serve, care for, or sell things to

  • Data - facts, numbers, files, and business procedures

  • Things - machines, tools, living things, and materials (like food, wood, or metal)

  • Ideas: knowledge, insights, and new ways of expressing something (using words, music, etc.)

Display slide 26. Share Ann C. Taylor’s Career Map with students. Walk them through the Career Map. Ask them to share out some things that they notice and some things that they are curious about with an Elbow Partner. If they have pressing questions, ask them to share with the whole group. Provide students with a few minutes of reflection time as they read through their individual Career Maps. Encourage them to jot down any notes or thoughts they have in the margins of their papers.


30 Minute(s)

Display slide 27. Pass out the attached Exit Ticket handout and share the instructional strategy with the students. Let them know that the Exit Ticket questions are there to help guide them through a reflection over their PreACT score. Once students have completed their Exit Tickets, have them use an app such as Flipgrid to record their reflection.


Additional Activities

After completing this lesson, consider branching out into student-led extension career exploration activities. The first two activities are designed for students who are just starting out in their career exploration journey and aren’t quite sure what they want to do after high school. The final activity is a follow-up once your students have set their goals for after high school.

  • BINGO! I’ve Found My Career - Do you remember singing “And Bingo Was His Name-O!” when you were younger? This song was how you learned how to spell the farmer’s dog’s name. In this activity, we will be using the BINGO game to learn about new career options! Learning about various careers now will help you decide which one interests you. Even if you already know what you want to be when you grow up, learning about career paths will help you plan your future.

  • 16 Ways To Survey My Career - The K20 Center’s GEAR UP program wants to help you explore career options! This Career Cluster activity will help you think about your skills, personality, and interests to identify which clusters might be a good fit for you. While your interests will likely change over the years, the Career Cluster Survey is a great place to begin your exploration, but the journey won’t end there. You can use what you learn in this survey and apply it to other career activities and exploration.

  • Life Is A Highway - Just like the Game of Life, you have to make pit stops along the way. Making important life decisions like what career do you want when you’re older, what colleges, tech schools, or certification programs will help you achieve those career goals, and how are you going to make sure you get there, are all important questions to ask as you continue along your journey.