STEM Careers Coalition: Top 3 SOS Instructional Strategies for Successful Career Exploration in the Classroom

The STEM Careers Coalition is a first-of-its-kind coalition of industry partners that have joined forces with Discovery Education to impact the culture of STEM education in K – 12 schools nationwide. The Coalition’s mission is to empower educators to teach STEM effectively in the classroom, foster equity and access to quality education, and build the next generation of solution-seekers at no-cost to schools. 

One of the most powerful resources available to all educators at no cost through the Coalition is the ever-expanding Careers Portalwhich features profiles of actual employees working in STEM careers at Coalition partner companies.  By integrating these videos and accompanying student activities into the classroom, educators have an opportunity to encourage students to prepare for their future career success.  It’s never too early for students to plan their career path and educators, play a key role in helping to inspire the future STEM workforce today. 

Spotlight on Strategies (SOS) are research-based strategies for integrating Discovery Education digital curriculum resources in meaningful, effective, and practical waysBy using SOS Instructional Strategies to introduce these resources in the classroom, students can gain a greater understanding of the careers and really begin to consider the skills they should focus on as they start to develop their own paths to future success. Below I explore my three favorite strategies to support career exploration. 

Four Corners is a teaching strategy that encourages students to communicate their thoughts about a specific topic. Each of the four corners of the room corresponds to a possible opinion about a thought-provoking statement. Students go to appropriate corners, based upon their opinions, to discuss and get ready to justify their stance. This is great for encouraging students to apply critical thinking to exploration of the Career Portal resources.  Using the Petroleum Drilling Engineer profile, have students watch the video only.  Ask students how they think the career featured in the video impacts the world and then provide four statements – one in each corner of the room – for them to respond to. After they select the statement they agree with, students will gather in each corner and discuss why they believe that statement is the primary way in which the career impacts the world, and then share their collective thoughts with the class.  Ultimately, you can share the complete answer found in the downloadable Student Activation with them and discuss as a class. 

Another critical thinking strategy, AEIOU, also gives students an opportunity to practice their communication skills and demonstrate learning.  In practice, students would watch one of the short career profile videos, such as the profile on Public Information/Communications Professionals, then share their response using the AEIOU method.  For each letter, they will share corresponding thoughts 

  • A, for adjective – a word or two that describes something they saw or learned. 
  • E, for emotion – describe how a particular part of the segment made them feel. 
  • I, for interesting – write something that they found interesting about the content or the topic. 
  • O for oh! – describe something that caused them to say oh! 
  • U for umm? – identify something that prompted a question or something they want to learn more about. 

Because this job may not be one that students immediately think of as a STEM career, this exploration should lead to rich conversation amongst your students. 

Finally, six word story allows students to practice summarizing and selective word choice.  They take the information they’ve learned and synthesize it into six words that form a complete sentence.  This strategy works extremely well with the downloadable Career Profiles available for each featured career.  The printable PDFs include deep detail on each career path, including job outlook, salary and required education and training.  Using this information, students would summarize their thoughts about the career path overall or a particular segment of the profile.  For example, after reviewing the Environmental, Health & Safety career profile, as student might write “Takes responsibility to protect co-workers’ safety.” 

Any of these strategies will contribute to successful integration of the STEM Careers Coalition career portal resources in your classroom and help your students see the bright future available to them in STEM career pathways. Happy exploring!