Photograph of jigsaw puzzle pieces.

CareerStart lessons: Grade seven

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Learning outcomes

Students will evaluate information regarding TV careers and stereotypes. Students will work in groups to summarize material.

Teacher preparation

Time required for lesson

60 minutes

Materials needed

  • Overhead or multimedia projector or whiteboard
  • Pencils
  • Occupation cards (Note: There are five cards per sheet, and you will need to cut them apart before beginning this lesson. Make enough copies for each student to take one card.)
  • Box to hold occupation cards
  • Student handouts:
    • Compare/contrast graphic organizer
    • Summary worksheet
  • Computers with internet access to access the Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • Optional: If you don’t have access to computers, you may print overviews of the careers discussed in this lesson and hand them out to students.
  • Large paper for the gallery walk (Note: chart paper or butcher paper would work best.)
  • Markers


  1. Begin the lesson with a discussion about how careers are depicted on television. As a class, brainstorm popular TV shows and the occupations they portray. (Some examples of shows are CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, Rescue Me, Law and Order, and The Shield.) List the occupations on overhead or board.
  2. Jigsaw activity: Divide the class into five groups with an equal number of students in each. These will be the students’ “home” groups.
  3. For each home group, put one set of five occupation cards in a box, and have each student draw a card. Each home group should contain at least one student for each occupation. (Note: If there are not enough students in your class to make this possible, you may choose to eliminate one of the occupations.) Students who drew the same occupation should form an “expert” group.
  4. In these new expert groups, have students discuss the occupation they chose. Instruct the students to brainstorm everything they know about the job. Students should draw on the descriptions of the occupations in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook:
  5. Next, have the students discuss examples of how the job is portrayed on TV shows. Students should take note of any stereotypes in how the career is portrayed on television.
  6. Hand out the compare/contrast graphic organizer, and have students use it to compare and contrast the way the job is portrayed on TV with the reality of the job.
  7. Hand out the summary worksheet, and have the students answer the questions to summarize their discussions.
  8. Using the information they’ve discussed, have each group use chart paper to create a display illustrating the occupation they’ve studied. When the groups are finished, have them post their displays in the classroom.
  9. Have the students leave their expert groups and report back to their home groups. Instruct students to do a “gallery walk” in their home groups. Each group should walk around the room as if they are in an art gallery looking at the displays. As the group approaches each display, the expert who helped create the display should explain it to his or her home group.
  10. Ticket out the Door: Before the students leave, ask each one to name one main difference he or she found between television portrayal and reality in careers.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 7

  • Goal 1: The learner will use language to express individual perspectives in response to personal, social, cultural, and historical issues.
    • Objective 1.03: Interact in group settings by:
      • responding appropriately to comments and questions.
      • offering personal opinions confidently without dominating.
      • giving appropriate reasons that support opinions.
      • soliciting and respecting another person's opinion.
  • Goal 4: The learner will refine critical thinking skills and create criteria to evaluate text and multimedia.
    • Objective 4.03: Develop the stance of a critic by:
      • considering and presenting alternative points of view or reasons.
      • remaining fair-minded and open to other interpretations.
      • creating a critical response/review of a work/topic.

Guidance (2001)

Grade 6–8

  • Goal 4: Acquire the skills to investigate the world of work in relation to knowledge of self and to make informed career decisions.
    • Objective 4.01: Develop skills to locate, evaluate, and interpret career information.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Progressing

        • P.CR.1 Understand the meaning and importance of career self-awareness and career goals. P.CR.1.1 Explain how personal skills, interests, and abilities relate to current career plans. P.CR.1.2 Develop a competency plan in your chosen career areas. P.CR.1.3...
        • P.CR.2 Understand the relationship among career goals and interests, personal interests, aptitudes, and abilities. P.CR.2.1 Maintain a career-planning portfolio. P.CR.2.2 Use research and information resources to obtain career information.