Beacon Lesson Plan Library

What Interests You?

Sharla Shults
Bay District Schools


Students investigate math in the real world using Web search methods to locate career fields of interest. After selecting an occupation, students draft brief paragraphs that reflect insight as to why the occupation they have chosen interests them.


The student refines vocabulary for interpersonal, academic, and workplace situations, including figurative, idiomatic, and technical meanings.

The student locates, gathers, analyzes, and evaluates written information for a variety of purposes, including research projects, real-world tasks, and self-improvement.

The student drafts and revises writing that: is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; has an organizational pattern that provides for a logical progression of ideas; has effective use of transitional devices that contribute to a sense of completeness; has support that is substantial, specific, relevant, and concrete; demonstrates a commitment to and involvement with the subject; uses creative writing strategies as appropriate to the purpose of the paper; demonstrates a mature command of language with precision of expression; has varied sentence structure; and has few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and common use of semicolons; correct capitalization; correct sentence formation; correct instances of possessives, subject/verb agreement, instances of noun/pronoun agreement, and the intentional use of fragments for effect; and correct formatting that appeals to readers, including appropriate use of a variety of graphics, tables, charts, and illustrations in both standard and innovative forms.


-A collection of various business magazines and/or business related newspaper articles*
-Computers with Internet access**
-Folders – one per student (distributed and labeled on Day 1)
-Red marking pens – one per student
-Copies of documents in associated file (See Teacher Preparation Step #2 for list.)
-Reteaching or practice worksheets as needed to reinforce basic skills

*It works best for the teacher to pre-select and cut out various articles illustrating examples of where math is used in the business world. This saves time in the classroom by allowing the students to fully examine the articles for the math connection instead of searching for articles.

** NOTE: For classes that do not have the necessary computers, an option would be to use the media facilities for the students’ research.


1. Collect business and sports magazines and/or pre-select business related newspaper articles.

2. Examine magazines in advance and make sure the magazines have appropriate articles for the intended questions.

3. Download and duplicate copies of the following documents found in the Associated File:
a) Student Peer Editing Rubric – one per student
b) Student Daily Log Day 2 (4 log sheets)
(NOTE: It will not be necessary to duplicate this document if students are writing in journals.)
c) Day 2 Web Assignment – Student Directions Sheet - One per student
d) Day 2 Paragraphs – Student Directions Sheet - one per student
e) One copy of Sign-Up Sheet for Occupation
(NOTE: Make an additional copy if needed for an extremely large class.)

4. Prepare or acquire practice worksheets in basic arithmetic skills addressing specific needs as demonstrated on the diagnostic assessment. Include reteaching as well as practice!

5. Use results of diagnostic to pair students of higher and lower computer skills.


Day 2 of unit The Math Connection.

NOTE: Today’s activities require an extensive amount of note-taking. Instruct students early in the class period of the expectations of the day. An option to duplicating the Student Daily Logs is to instruct students to record in journals or use their own paper. Step #22 may need to be completed for homework because of class time factor.

1. Distribute folders with student assistance. Assign a student the responsibility of distributing the student folders at the beginning of each day. It is preferable for the teacher to collect these at the end of each day to insure that folders are available for each student every day! Change the student assignment periodically to allow students the ability to share this responsibility.

2. Begin the class by announcing that today is exploration day! Spark students' interest with job related questions. Some sample questions are listed below to help in initiating the class discussion.
a) What types of jobs interest you? Why?
b) What would be your ideal work environment?
c) Which is most important – a high starting salary or financial security?
d) What would you like the content of your job to consist of? NO mathematics? Basic mathematics? Advanced mathematics?
e) Geographically, where would you like to be located? Do you see any math involved within your choice of geographic location?
f) Where do you envision your career choice headed in the future?
g) Will a graduate or professional degree help you attain your goals?

3. Distribute business or sports magazines and/or pre-selected business related newspaper articles for students to peruse. Be specific and ask questions relating to various occupations and their math connection. Examine magazines in advance and make sure the magazines have appropriate articles for the questions intended. Some sample questions are:
a) Did you know that a strong mathematical background is essential for an actuary*?
Find an article that relates to an actuary and give details where math is used.
b) What is the math connection with sports? Read a sports article that specifically mentions math and describe its usage.
c) What does percent have to do with the world of work? Find an article that demonstrates percent and explain how it is used.
d) Do fractions ever appear in the news? Find an example and state its purpose. Could the fraction have been addressed in a different form? If so, state an equivalent. (Example: Stocks were up 1˝. 1˝ = 1.5, which is $1.50.)
*Actuary: One who calculates insurance and annuity premiums. Also known as a clerk or registrar.

4. Distribute Student Daily Log Day 2 – Newsworthy Math Notes (see Associated File), unless students are writing in their journals, and instruct them to jot down important facts they find in the articles that make the math connection to the real world.

5. Assign students to individual computers. Use the results of the diagnostic assessment of computer skills to place students in mentoring positions. If portable labs are available, check out ahead of time. In cases where the availability of computers is limited, assign students in partners. Partner students with high and low computer skills and encourage peer mentoring. Caution: Be sure students have returned the parent permission forms for use of the Internet before assigning computers!

6. Tell students they are going to explore the Web and search for specific information. Distribute Student Daily Logs Day 2 – Notes from the Web, one per student, unless students are writing in journals (see Associated File). Instruct students to jot down important facts, i.e. salaries, benefits, education (especially math requirements), geographic location, etc., encountered along the way using the Student Daily Logs Day 2 – Notes from Web, or record in their journals. Encourage students to write in complete sentences when feasible and continuously review sentences for editing errors.

7. Getting started: Distribute the Web Assignment - Student Directions Sheet. (See Associated File.) For students who are already proficient in searching on the Web, allow them to search through Google or use the Copernic Web search. This eliminates steps 1 - 4 on the handout. All students complete steps 5 and 6.
Note: For students who had difficulty locating [The Ten Commandments of Math] on the diagnostic assessment, distribute the Getting Started on the Web handout. Students who did not locate [The Ten Commandments of Math] need to complete this process and print copies for their portfolios.

8. Emphasize the importance of utilizing a selection of good keywords and applying quotations to initiate and narrow the search process. Promote a class discussion about possible keywords to use in searching for careers. Examples: career, careers, career choices, career matters, career zone, jobs, occupations, etc.

9. Allow students 10-15 minutes to find and explore various career sites. It is very important to reinforce students continuously about the nature of the search and what to look for. Constantly walk around the classroom engaging students in discussions about discoveries on different sites relative to jobs of interest and the workplace.

10. (Depending on class time, this step may be optional. In that case, go to Step #15.) After the exploration time, students select a couple of occupations to investigate further for approximately 10-15 minutes. Tell students that after this exploration time to decide on one occupation to research in more detail for the math connection.

11. Instruct each student to identify and sign up for one occupation of interest to research in detail. (See Associated File for Sign-Up Sheet.) Tell students to research the chosen occupations for approximately 15 minutes concentrating on the math connection. Prompt students with questions such as: What is an interesting fact about this occupation? What is a disappointing fact about this occupation? What level of education is required? What is the beginning salary? Does the job require mathematics? What level of mathematics is required? What evidence of the use of integers, fractions, decimals, percents, and scientific notation appear to exist in this occupation? etc.

12. Instruct students to print one to two pages each from the exploration of the chosen occupation that demonstrate the use of math in a real-world context including both information and graphics. Monitor students as they are printing and provide a ‘mini-lesson’ in printing as needed. Tell students to place these documents in the folders for inclusion in the portfolios.

13. Circulate the sign-up sheet around the room for each student to sign independently.

NOTE: An excellent career information Website available that helps students get started is, Exploring Occupations: Getting You Started on Your Career Path* (Hint: Tell students to go to, type in ‘career choices’, and enter search and this is the first choice. On the site, click the occupation of interest and then click Jobs 2000.) MAKE THIS WEBSITE AVAILABLE ONLY AFTER STUDENTS HAVE DEMONSTRATED THE ABILITY TO USE EFFICIENT SEARCH METHODS TO LOCATE INFORMATION.
*If this Website is no longer available, search the Internet for other sites that offer information on careers.

14. Distribute Writing Skills Rubric – Student Peer Editing (see Associated File) one per student. Review the rubric with the students emphasizing all expectations. If you are a subject area teacher other than language arts, you may wish to spend extra time preparing students for the peer-editing process. Model peer editing with one of your students to ensure all are comfortable with this process.
NOTE: Transitional devices will not be covered in this paragraph.

15. Distribute Paragraph - Student Directions Sheet and Student Daily Log Day 2 – Paragraph Draft, unless students are writing in journals (see Associated File). Instruct students to use the notes and/or important facts discovered during the search and draft a BRIEF paragraph consisting of 3 to 5 sentences about the Internet exploration and why the occupation they have chosen interests them. They must include where they think math fits into their choice of occupation. Encourage students to be specific and provide examples if encountered using integers, fractions, decimals, percents, and scientific notation.

16. Distribute a red marking pen and Student Peer Editing Rubric (see Associated File) to each student. Instruct students, when all have finished writing, to exchange papers and peer edit each other’s work referring to the Student Peer Editing Rubric. Students use the red pens to make corrections within the paragraphs. Review with students a second time, what to look for in the editing. Explain that this writing is short so students can become familiar with editing another student’s work. Reemphasize the expectations as defined by the criteria in the rubric.

17. Tell students to return papers to the owners, review the errors, and make any other revisions deemed necessary.

18. Distribute the Student Daily Log Day 2* – Paragraph Final (see Associated File), or instruct students to use their own paper. Give instructions for students to rewrite the paragraphs and turn in the final copies for formative assessment. Students turn papers in separately instead of including in the folder. (Formatively assess students’ final paragraphs using the Evaluation Rubric – Writing Skills found in the Unit Plan Assessment File and return to students the following day.)

*NOTE: Depending on class time remaining, this activity may need to be completed for homework.

19. Instruct students to place all informational documents in the folder. Collect folders for distribution to students the next day. Today’s added documents include the Student Daily Log Day 2: Newsworthy Notes, Notes from the Web, and Paragraphs – Draft, one page printed from the Web, and Student Peer Editing Rubrics. Students do not utilize the Student Daily Log if they record in journals instead. Remember to remind students to turn in the final paragraphs separately for formative assessment.

20. Discuss that the next part requires students to write letters. Instruct students to begin looking for contact persons in the chosen occupations. The names of the contact persons are due on Day 4 of the unit plan. Devote the remainder of the class period to continued Internet search. This time look for persons to contact by mail. For homework, instruct students to also talk to family members about possible contacts or look in the yellow pages of a phone book. Tell students to document any conversations with family members in their journals.

21. Take up the sign-up sheet and peruse for all students’ names and chosen occupations. If a student did not choose an occupation, remind him that the absolute deadline is the next day. Do not allow procrastination!

22. As time permits, work with students who scored low in basic arithmetic skills on the diagnostic assessment. Low scorers receive practice worksheets for homework on specific skills targeted. Schedule time for students to visit various tutorial Web sites for reteaching and reinforcement. (See Web links below.) Include additional instruction with examples and an ample supply of practice problems addressing the inadequate skill demonstrated.

23. Inform students again of timelines. Day 2 or 3 of Unit – Choose occupation; Day 4 of Unit – Name of contact person due; Day 5 of Unit – 45 minutes for Summative Assessment 1, final letter ready for mailing. NO ERRORS; NO EXCEPTIONS!


Students write brief paragraphs of 3 to 5 sentences about the Internet exploration. Students demonstrate analyzing and evaluating information gathered from the Internet searches.

Students use the Student Peer Editing Rubric to edit and check for writing that is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation

Students revise paragraphs and turn in final paragraphs to the teacher for formative assessment. (Use Writing Skills Rubric from Diagnostic Assessment) Transitional devices will not be covered in the paragraphs. Vocabulary is embedded throughout the unit plan allowing students to refine vocabulary for interpersonal, academic and workplace situations.

Use teacher observation of students’ Internet search during recording on the Student Daily Log Sheets Day 2 – Notes from the Web (or journal entries) to determine if students used efficient search methods to locate information.

The standards and Goal 3 Standards addressed will be modeled and formatively assessed throughout this unit and will be summatively assessed at the completion of the unit.


This is Lesson 2 of 10 in the unit The Math Connection addressing [When Are We Ever Going to USE This MATH?]

The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, [Associated Files.] This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

As an extension, peruse student folders and look for examples of good peer editing (rubrics and work). Make transparency copies to share with the class on Day 3.

If students demonstrate difficulty with Web searchs, provide additional information with the [Getting Started on the Web] information sheet. See Associated File.

Web Links

University of Manitoba; Exploring Occupations: Getting You Started on Your Career Path
Exploring Occupations

What You Need to Know About: Mathematics
Mathematics Tutorials

Basic Aspects of Fractions and Operations
BMCC: Math Tutorials: Fractions

Basic Aspects of Decimals and Operations
BMCC: Math Tutorials: Decimals

Interactive Math Lessons and More!
Understanding Percents

From Definition to Practice to Quiz Fractions

From Understanding Place Value to Operations Decimals

From Definition to Illustration Percents

Practice in Converting Between Scientific Notation and Normal Numbers
Scientific Notation

Examples, Explanation and Scientific Notation Generator
Scientific Notation

When Are We Ever Going to USE This Math?
The Math Connection

Attached Files

Student Daily Log Day 2, Student Peer Editing Rubric, and Sign-Up Sheet. rtf 375 KB      File Extension: pdf

Getting Started on the Web     File Extension: pdf

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