Leadership Teacher
Career Cluster Introduction

Submitted By: karencollman@yahoo.com

Affiliate Group: LT I Upper Valley, 2010/2011

Grade Level: Middle School

Intended Audience: Teachers

Curricular Connection:
The initial introduction of the concepts around Career Clusters could be introduced by the school counselor during guidance classroom time. With the collaboration of the subject specific teachers, more in depth exploration of a specific cluster area could happen – for example in science you might bring in a visitor from a bio-tech firm to talk about how the area of study relates to what they do and then talk about their own career journey to working in bio-tech.


Students will understand the concept of Career Clusters.

The scope of the 16 Career Clusters is very large – see the attachment 16 Career Clusters. I like to take these 16 original clusters and re-group them into 6 general areas – see the attachment 6 Career Cluster Model. To begin with students need to understand the concept of what a “cluster” means. In this introductory lesson, students develop a beginning understanding of the clusters and take an initial survey to see how their interest might match up to these clusters.

Schedule – The initial introductory activities take about ˝ hour. The survey process takes about ˝ hour and then another 15 minutes for groupings and discussions. This would be best done in 2 different sessions.

clusters, survey, interests, career, job

Background Information:
These activities are taken from the curriculum "A Career Cluster Journey" from Relevant Classroom - see link.

Current research shows that there is a relationship between students’ occupational aspirations and their educational aspirations. Students between the ages of 9-13 are developing their personal sense of social valuation – how they see themselves in the world. They begin to rule in and out different levels of occupations tied to their own perceptions of required education. By introducing the concepts of Career Clusters and directly relating this to real world experiences, students can gain a more accurate match between what they are interested in, its applications, and what level of post-secondary education is necessary to achieve their goals.

Teaching Suggestions:
1. What is a Cluster?
a. Begin by choosing a group of students to stand in front of the room based on a simple visual color that they are all wearing and then ask the class if they can guess what this group of students has in common. Have other students volunteer to create a cluster and have the class guess what is held in common. Talk about how we can group things that have something in common into Clusters and that today we are going to begin to talk about the idea of Career Clusters.
b. Have the students fill in the “Discovering Clusters” handout. This will extend the idea of “clusters” and allow you to assess if this concept is being understood. Begin to talk about the importance of having students plan for their future by understanding what they are interested in and how that might match certain careers and further education after high school.
2. Career Survey
a. Tell the students that they will be filling out a survey that will help them match their interests with types of careers. It is important for the students to understand that this survey is not a test. That there is not one right answer. The survey is just a tool that can help them begin to think about the Career Cluster that might match their interests. In the end, each student knows themselves. They might not agree with the results of the survey and that is OK. The survey is made up of a series of activities paired in twos. They should circle the activity they like doing the best. Encourage them to go with their first impressions and not to think too much about the choices. The students will then evaluate their own results following the directions on the sheet. They could work in pairs and have their partners double check their results.
b. After everyone has recorded their top 3 Career Cluster – have the students move to one of the 6 Career Cluster Posters placed around the room based on their top career cluster choice results from the survey. Hand out to each student a copy of the Career Cluster listings available from Careerclusters.org.

Discussion Questions:
Ask students if they agree with the results of their survey? If they do not, talk about why this might be. Did they already have an idea for a career before they took the survey? What skills do they think they need for this type of career? How much education after high school do they think is necessary for this career?

Reinforcing Activities:
Once students have a better sense of a Career Cluster that matches their interests, you can have them do research either on the internet or through career fairs, job shadows, or bring in speakers who can do a real world activity tied to a career in the class room that can integrate with a specific academic subject.

Related Link(s):
Relavent Classroom " A Career Cluster Journey"
States Career Clusters site