We needed to break out of our classroom routine, so I thought an online research project on jobs that require math skills would serve that purpose as well. I didn't realize how easy it would be to create a compelling project until I went to Monster.com, searched for keyword algebra, and had to sort through hundreds of results. I was impressed by the range of careers and employers. There were a lot of teaching jobs among the results, however, which is the last thing I wanted my students to focus on.
So I asked my students to find 10 non-teaching jobs that required math skills. I gave them 5 job search engines to use:
algebra" or "math". I created a graphic organizer for students to record the information they found, especially what the job entailed and what math skills were required. I included a set of reflection questions at the end of the project, to hammer home the main ideas:
- List some ways you could find out more information about jobs you were interested in.
- Which job did you find the most interesting? Explain why.
- What do you think is the most important thing you learned through this project?
- Is there anything you think you now want to know more about based on this project?
This year, I didn't get the same "why do we need to know this?" feeling from my students, so I held off on this project until the end of the year. The project remains mostly intact, with a few key changes:
- Removed Monster from the list of websites (too slow, too many requests to register when searching) and replaced it with Indeed, a job metasearch engine.
- Added a space in the graphic organizer for Degree Required. I know that many students failed to realize that needing math skills didn't necessarily mean graduating from college with a math-related degree.
- Added one more question to the Reflection Questions: What was the most surprising or unexpected job you found in your search results?
- Encouraged students to seek jobs in a career they were interested in, instead of jobs located in or near our state (I think the former is far more relevant to them than the latter).
Downloads: original version, 2008 updated version
This project and many others are my book Ten Cheap Lessons: Easy, Engaging Ideas for Every Secondary Classroom. Click the Ten Cheap Lessons tag for more posts.