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 gain an understanding of how math skills are used by people who work in securities and commodities.

Teacher preparation

Time required for lesson

One class period

Materials needed

  • Overhead projector and pens
  • Computer with projector and internet access to access information about Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents (stockbrokers) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • Optional: If you don’t have access to a computer and projector, you may print the information and hand out paper copies to students, or make a transparency copy.
  • Calculators (optional)
  • Handouts and transparencies:
    • Securities and commodities worksheet — one copy for each student and transparency copy
    • Sample stock page — transparency copy (Alternatively, you may use a copy of your local newspaper stock page.)
  • Securities and commodities worksheet answer key


  1. Review adding negative and positive integers. (10 minutes)
  2. Introduce students to careers in securities and commodities. Explain how stockbrokers need math skills to quickly add many sets of integers when working with daily stock quotes. Display the information about careers in Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. (Alternatively, hand out paper copies.) Review the many skills needed by stockbrokers, making sure to emphasize the classroom skills. Most importantly, focus on the need to add and subtract integers quickly because of the rise and fall of the values of stocks. Use the overhead to show students a sample stock page, and explain to students how to read a stock table. (Information about how to read stock tables and quotes can be found on the Investopedia website.) (10 minutes)
  3. Distribute the securities and commodities worksheet. Use an overhead copy of the worksheet to demonstrate how to work these problems by completing the first one as an example. (5 minutes)
  4. Have students complete problem #2 only, and instruct them to raise their hands when they think they have the final answer for the problem. Circulate around the room to check students’ answers as they raise their hands. (You can reward students with correct answers if that is part of your classroom philosophy.) (5 minutes)
  5. Continue with the worksheet, one problem at a time. You can use the worksheet as a template to make additional problems and include more problems on the back if needed. (10 minutes)
  6. Have students return to the sample stock page and tell them they will take on the role of stockbrokers. Recommend to the students three stocks by thinking of names they know on the page and by looking at integers and growth or lack of growth based on what they learned earlier. Advise the students to look for familiar stock names first, then if integers tell them there is little growth, to look elsewhere. For the remainder of the class have the students report 3-5 stocks that made growth and then after 5-10 minutes have a class discussion about their findings. Discuss familiar names and see if students know any other information about stocks that helped them find the names before doing the math work. (15 minutes)

Lesson extension

Tell students you want them to practice some skills that stockbrokers use on a daily basis by tracking some stocks — adding and subtracting integers over a span of time. Have them go home nightly and look up the the stock market report on the internet or in the newspaper for a week and have them track the growth and decline of one or two stocks of their choice. The students should write down their stocks’ growth nightly. More advanced students could also look up how much shares cost at the company they are tracking and calculate the money made or lost. This extension would encourage students to practice adding and subtracting integers daily in an interesting context.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 7

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will understand and compute with rational numbers.
    • Objective 1.02: Develop fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of rational numbers.
      • Analyze computational strategies.
      • Describe the effect of operations on size.
      • Estimate the results of computations.
      • Judge the reasonableness of solutions.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • The Number System
          • 7.NS.1Apply and extend previous understandings of addition and subtraction to add and subtract rational numbers; represent addition and subtraction on a horizontal or vertical number line diagram. Describe situations in which opposite quantities combine to...