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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 work in groups to evaluate how governments make decisions and the criteria they use to reach those decisions. They will discuss careers that involve analyzing information and delivering presentations.

Teacher preparation

Time required for lesson

Two class periods (50-55 minutes each)

Materials needed


Day one

  1. Write the following careers on the board or overhead: lawyer, doctor, minister, sales person, small business owner, teacher, city government planner, politician, and mechanical technician. Have students work in pairs to brainstorm what these careers have in common. Ask the students to share their ideas with the class. (5 minutes)
  2. If students haven’t already suggested this, tell them that another characteristic that these careers have in common is that they require the worker to be able to make presentations or proposals and defend them. For example, a mechanical technician must be able to explain to a customer why certain things on his or her car need to be repaired. Ask students to look again at the list of careers. Have them choose five to explain how workers in those careers make presentations or proposals. (For example, students may respond that a lawyer must convince a jury, a teacher must present information about a subject to students, a doctor must explain procedures to patients and their families, etc.)
  3. Tell students that today’s lesson will have them practice how to take criteria — facts or standards used to make judgments — and use them to make and defend a proposal for improving the West African nation of Mali.
  4. Begin by reviewing general facts about West Africa with the class:
    • West Africa is the most heavily populated region south of the Sahara Desert.
    • Natural resources in West Africa include iron ore, bauxite (a rock used to make aluminum), natural gas, some gold.
    • Most people in inland villages are subsistence farmers.
    • The Niger River flows through five countries in this region.
    • Family traditions such as arranged marriages and the importance of the extended family are strong.
  5. State the focus for the lesson — to examine in more detail the economy of one West African country and analyze how governments make decisions to strengthen their countries. (5-10 minutes)
  6. Divide students into five groups. Have the groups brainstorm standards or criteria that would be useful to help a country decide how to improve their economy. Have the groups share their lists, and then decide as a class what the criteria for evaluating proposals will be. (10-15 minutes) Criteria should include:
    • How many people will benefit from this program?
    • Will this program/project make the country more economically independent?
    • Are the benefits short-term or long-term?
    • What will the program cost? How will we get the money to finance the project?
    • How soon can this project be implemented? Will it be popular with the people who live in the country?
  7. Hand out the Mali project presentation worksheet. Instruct the students to research Mali to determine what kinds of improvement projects may be needed. The CIA World Factbook overview of Mali is a useful site for this research. Have each group use that information and the worksheet to develop a proposal for an improvement project in Mali. Tell students that they will give a five-minute presentation to the class explaining why their proposal should be chosen. Students will be evaluated on how well they work together as a group and how convincing their presentation is. Monitor the groups as they work to give suggestions/explanation as needed. (25-30 minutes) To help students prepare for the following day’s presentations, give them the following guidelines:
    • Each presentation should last approximately five minutes.
    • Students must stand while giving their presentations.
    • Any number of group members may speak during the presentation, but only one student should speak at a time.
    • Students must respect each other and listen actively to all presentations.

Day two

  1. Have each group explain its proposal for improving Mali and why it’s the best choice based on the criteria that the class chose. They should address the positive and negative effects that the project could have and how the project could be implemented. Remind students of the presentation guidelines. When all the presentations are finished, you may choose to ask the class which group was most convincing and why. (30 minutes)
  2. Have students summarize what they’ve learned:
    • Write three careers that you would be interested in that require studying criteria and making proposals to customers, other employees, shareholders, etc. Explain your choices.
    • Write two things you learned about how to make an effective presentation.

    Have the students turn in their summaries as they leave the class.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 7

  • Goal 5: The learner will evaluate the varied ways people of Africa, Asia, and Australia make decisions about the allocation and use of economic resources.
    • Objective 5.01: Describe the relationship between the location of natural resources, and economic development, and analyze the impact on selected cultures, countries, and regions in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
  • Goal 6: The learner will recognize the relationship between economic activity and the quality of life in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
    • Objective 6.01: Describe different levels of economic development and assess their connections to standard of living indicators such as purchasing power, literacy rate, and life expectancy.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Speaking & Listening

        • Grade 7
          • 7.SL.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • 7.C&G.1 Understand the development of government in modern societies and regions. 7.C&G.1.1 Summarize the ideas that have shaped political thought in various societies and regions (e.g. Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution, democracy, communism...
        • 7.E.1 Understand the economic activities of modern societies and regions. 7.E.1.1 Explain how competition for resources affects the economic relationship among nations (e.g. colonialism, imperialism, globalization and interdependence). 7.E.1.2 Explain the...
        • 7.G.1 Understand how geography, demographic trends, and environmental conditions shape modern societies and regions. 7.G.1.1 Explain how environmental conditions and human response to those conditions influence modern societies and regions (e.g. natural barriers,...