This is an idea that I originally obtained from NCTN's Integrating Career Awareness into the ABE & ESOL Classroom. I use this activity every year. It’s an online scavenger hunt, in which students find occupational data on careers. This year’s incarnation is split into two parts, one with specific information students need to find about one job in particular on www.bls.gov, and the other part asking students to comb the same site, pick out a profession, take notes, report back, and reflect on what they see as relevant information concerning this profession.
Since I teach ESOL students looking to go into the medical professions, I focused this activity on medical occupations. If you look at the first activity, it’s a straightforward scavenger hunt, where I did the initial legwork of going through a career profile, developing questions and blanks which students later answer and fill in. I had students do this during one class in a lab, but a teacher could also assign it for homework if students have Internet access.
The challenge I had in doing this activity is that I have a mixed-level class of lower intermediate and higher intermediate learners. For the lower level students, going through the website’s language can be a challenge, though doable. For the more advanced students, it’s a breeze. So I decided, after having students fill in the charts, I would have a set of higher order thinking questions to get the higher level students to examine the data more. I had to make the questions accessible for lower level students, so they could at least answer the questions; the higher level students would be expected to expand more on the questions with more language output.
I split the students up into small groups, and the first task I had was to have students look at their answers and compare, to make sure their answers and data matched. Then on the board, I had a series of conversation questions about the data. Examples include:
The second activity is less scaffolded, and requires students to pick out another health care profession. I usually make a list of professions and have each student pick one to research, to avoid repetition. Next, students need to go through the data online and write down what they see as interesting facts for each sub category of the job being researched. Students fill in the chart, and then in a subsequent class, they are responsible for giving a quick presentation of the findings to their peers. You can have students do this in groups, or present to the whole class. Sometimes I’ll have students make a PowerPoint presentation on what they found, though this year I did not require it. They just had to present the facts clearly to their peers.
As each student presented, I had blank charts for students to fill in as they listened to the student speaker. This helped create active listening, (especially since I told them I’d collect the charts to give a participation grade) and led to many questions being asked of each speaker. Additionally, I had the researcher and the listeners answer what information surprised them for each job; this was a higher order question intended to get students to reflect on the information researched and presented.
These activities usually work out well, as they involve a topic relevant to many students’ lives. One interesting reflection this year is that though I didn’t require it, during the presentations students listening asked a lot of “why” questions to each speaker, which maybe for me means making a change next year and having listeners create questions like I did on the board for the first activity.
If you have the opportunity, try this activity out. It’s a nice way to include technology and bring in relevant material if your students are looking to get into the workforce. It’s also a way to bring in opportunities for students to present information and respond to critical thinking questions.
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