By Carrie Schindler, Teacher, Franklin Primary School
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” For me, that was an easy question. From the time I was about 8 years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. So, when I posed that question to my 5th graders, I was really surprised by the number of students who didn’t have any interest in a career.
This was during the first year for AVID at our school, and my grade level team began to consider our students’ lack of career knowledge and AVID’s push for college readiness. How could we tie the two together? One of my team members, Angela Watkins, came up with the idea for a career museum. Once we discussed this plan, we were off and running.
Students were given the opportunity to learn about different careers. These careers ranged from those our students were quite familiar with (teachers, day care providers, hairdressers) to those some had never even heard of (architect, landscaper, and dietician). As we studied the different careers, we encouraged our students to begin thinking of the ones that interested them.
After we were done introducing different careers, it was time for students to start researching. They each picked one of the careers we had studied, and began searching the Internet for answers to questions like “How long do I have to go to college if I want to be a policeman?” or “What colleges in our area offer this program?” They were also asked to find the average income for a professional in this field, job benefits and drawbacks, and skills necessary to be successful. Students used their note-taking skills to organize and have quick, easy access to their information. Once all this information was collected, the students created their own PowerPoint presentations. It was so exciting to see our kids involved in their work. Not only were they working diligently, but they were also excited and proud of the product they were creating. They would show each other their slide shows and then bring their laptops to their teacher to show off their hard work.
Once the PowerPoints were completed, it was time for the culminating activity: The Careers Alive Museum. Our students donned costumes fitting the professional they were, memorized the facts and points about their career, and got into character. So many people were invited to come visit the museum where the students were the exhibit. Of course, all the classes in our school toured. We also invited the AVID high school class at Peoria High School. The Regional Superintendent and our District Superintendent came (along with other members of our administration). News crews and professionals from many careers came to hear what our 5th graders had to say.
The most amazing part was when the parents saw that their children had worked so hard making this project come alive. I’m sure the students talked about this at home (we worked on it for about 3 months), but for the grown-ups to actually see what the kids were capable of producing, it was incredible.
Our students worked so hard on this project, and they learned so much about what it takes to be successful in the “real world.” I hope that this AVID experience lives with the children as they move on to middle school, high school, and then college. AVID’s view on college readiness certainly helped us to help the children learn that there are so many possibilities out there.
Click the following links to find out more:
- Bright Side: Middle school students research future careers, CINewsNow.com
- Kids Study College and Careers, ciproud.com
Carrie Schindler is a 5th-grade teacher at Franklin Primary School in Peoria, Illinois. She received a BS in elementary education from Bradley University and is currently pursuing her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. In addition to being on the school’s AVID site team, Carrie also acts as one of Franklin’s representatives to the district site team. She is also a member of the school’s PBIS committee. When not at school or studying, Carrie enjoys watching super hero movies with her husband and daughter, reading, and being an avid trivia buff.
For more on AVID, visit http://avid.org/what-is-avid.ashx.