Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Envisioning Your Future

Lindsey Link, Mandy Green, Lindsay Williams | Published: September 29th, 2021 by K20 Center

Essential Questions

What kind of experiences can we provide to empower students regarding their postsecondary education (PSE) goals?

Learning Goals

  • Analyze a variety of resources, including technology tools, that can help support your ICAP initiative.

  • Illustrate multiple pathways to college and career attainment to create a postsecondary vision board.

Materials List

  • Presentation Slides (attached)

  • Helpful Resources (attached; one per participant)

  • How Can I Use This? handout (attached; one per participant)

  • Zoom Into Your Career Resource Crowdsourcing (attached; one copy total)

  • How to Create a Vision Board (attached; one per participant)

  • Vision Board Templates (attached; one per participant)

  • Computers

  • WiFi

  • Pens or Pencils


Begin with slide 2 of the attached Presentation Slides, displaying the presentation title: "Envisioning Your Future." Welcome participants and introduce yourself and your background.

Move to slide 3 and ask your participants if they have used the instructional strategy Four Corners before. If so, let and let a few share how.

Ask participants to think about the question, "What is the most important aspect of your college experience that you think students would be interested in: financial aid, sorority or fraternity, clubs or athletics, or something other than this?" If using Mentimeter, instruct your participants to answer the question by using a personal device to scan the QR code displayed on the screen or by simply typing the URL address into their browsers. If not using Mentimeter, have participants gather groups in each corner of the room based on their answers (i.e. “Financial Aid” in the north corner of the room, “Sorority or Fraternity” in the east corner of the room, etc.).

Once participants have answered on Padlet or moved to the appropriate space in the room, have a few participants share why they chose that column and why they think students would benefit from knowing that aspect of their experience (especially from the “Other” category).

Transition to slide 4, displaying the GEAR UP grant goals. Review these goals with participants:

  • Increase cohort academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education (PSE).

  • Increase high school graduation and PSE participation.

  • Increase student educational expectations and increase student and family knowledge of PSE options, preparation, and financing.

Share the essential question located on slide 5: What kind of experiences can we provide to empower students regarding their PSE goals?

Share the learning objective located on slide 6. Inform participants that at the end of the presentation they will evaluate how well these objectives were met:

  • Analyze a variety of resources, including tech tools, that can help support your ICAP initiative.

  • Illustrate multiple pathways to college and career attainment to create a postsecondary vision board.

Let your participants know that they are a great bank of experience and information to help increase students’ awareness of college options and journeys. Ask, participants, “How many faculty members does this school have? How many different stories does that provide to your students? What if every teacher could showcase those varied experiences?”


Inform your participants that college and career exposure and awareness are important and that we want to make sure they have multiple tools so that they can choose the right one for their class and their students.

Share K20’s Zoom Into Your Career video playlist with participants. This library of videos is full of interviews centered on on-the-job career professionals that the K20 Center has amassed as part of our mentoring initiative.

Move to slide 7. Invite participants to participate in one of the Mentoring Team's activities using a Virtual Career Expo video. To begin, distribute the following link to participants and have them generate their own Bingo card: (Alternatively, generate a few Bingo cards using the link and distribute physical copies to participants.)

Move to slide 8 and watch “Chemical Engineer - Tarah Schneberger - Zoom Into Your Career.” Have participants follow along with the video, listening for terms on their Bingo cards and crossing those terms out as they appear.

Display slide 9, and distribute the attached How Can I Use This? and Helpful Resources handouts. Inform participants that these resources were created by the K20 Center's Mentoring Team in an effort to bridge the knowledge gap when it comes to PSE awareness. Invite participants to take notes in the How Can I Use This? handout as they explore other Virtual Career Expo videos as well as the Helpful Resources list. Participants should list the video title, indicate how long the video is, and share how the video connects to their content area.

After your participants have had some time to explore the video library and Helpful Resources document, ask if they're familiar with ICAP (Individual Career Academic Planning) and how these resources and activities connect to it.

Display slide 10, and inform your participants that ICAP is an ongoing, student-driven process that actively engages students and enables them to:

  • understand their own interests, strengths, values, and learning styles;

  • create a vision for their future;

  • develop individual goals; and

  • prepare a personal plan for achieving their vision and goals.


Transition to slide 11. Using the table on the slide, share the differences between a four-year traditional school plan and the ICAP vision. Explain to participants that you’d like to show them one final resource they can use to help support student career exploration: the lesson “How Do My Choices Affect My Future?” (display the linked lesson or distribute the link to participants). Walk through the activities in the lesson briefly.

As you do so, note to the group that salaries are an important consideration when choosing a degree. What type of postsecondary education students are willing to complete is also another important consideration.

On a piece of notebook paper, ask participants (acting as students) to write three of their most important considerations when choosing a career. They can use the salary amount or the education requirements if they believe those are one of their three most important, but other things might be as important as well. Ask them to think of other considerations that might be important to them. You may need to brainstorm some other considerations out loud to get them started on this task, such as schedules, work hours, talents, interests, job location, training, or level of skill involved.

Next, ask participants to make connections between this activity and the ICAP process.

Display slide 12. Tell your participants that they will be participating in an instructional strategy called Collaborative Word Clouds, using the Mentimeter app to answer the following question: “What are some other things you should consider when choosing a potential career?”

Instruct your participants to answer the question by using a personal device to scan the QR code displayed on the screen or by simply typing the URL address into their browsers.

Take a few minutes to discuss the results of the Collaborative Word Cloud with your participants. What was the most shared response?

Distribute the attached Zoom Into Your Career Resource Crowdsourcing handout. Instruct participants to visit the website My Next Move, choosing a career and filling in the following information:

  1. Career Title

  2. Job Description

  3. Education and Training

  4. Required Salary

  5. What is needed to meet the job description and education/training requirements of the job

Participants can also use the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook for their Internet research. (This URL is included on the Zoom Into Your Career Resource Crowdsourcing handout.) You may wish to briefly model how to navigate the site. For example, if participants are not sure which specific careers they are interested in, they can use the career occupation groups (listed in the left toolbar) to explore careers of a similar nature. If they wish to look at a specific career, they can use the search function on the site.


Transition to slide 14, and invite participants to use the information they have gathered to create a small vision board in Google Draw. Distribute the attached How to Create a Vision Board guide to participants and share the attached Vision Board Templates slides. This is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to creating vision boards using Google Slides.

You may also wish to share the following Vision Board Resources video: Google Slides - Image Options & Replace Images.

Provide time for participants to work on their vision boards. After 15-20 minutes, bring your participants back together and ask if anyone would like to share their vision board with the group. Provide time for this to take place.

Display slide 15 and revisit ICAP. Ask participants, “What other experiences do you think students might need?” Allow them to share out their responses. After this discussion, share some of the additional resources below:


Transition to slide 16. Have each participant take a moment to analyze which of the listed tools or resources is best for them. Inform them that by doing so, they are participating in an instructional strategy called POMS: Point of Most Significance. Ask participants if there is anything they need from you in terms of support.

Return to the learning objectives on slide 17. Read the objectives aloud or refer to them again, and ask participants to reconsider them now that they have completed the professional development.

Research Rationale

Engaged students who understand the experiential application of their classwork to their future are likely to be better prepared for class, are absent less often and have better school/life organizational skills.

Student engagement can be boosted by providing more experiential (real-world) learning, such as in an internship or job shadow. Real-world experiences lead to a heightened value of math. Getting students to feel truly engaged also relies on supportive adults. Schools should foster positive relationships between students and staff in which students feel connected and cared for. They should provide curricula, instructional materials, and/or academic programs that are relevant to career pathways (Rumberger et al., 2017).