Kids have lots of fun at Career Day, and are exposed to a lot of new possibilities, but how can we be sure that they’ve truly understanding the concepts that we want them to learn? More and more in recent years, I’m incorporating ways for kids to demonstrate their learning as part of the units I teach. Sure, it takes additional class time, but it also enriches and deepens their understanding and, when they have the opportunity to share their work with others, that of their classmates. It also helps me assess their learning and the efficacy of my lessons. One example of this is the Career Trading Cards assignment, which serves as a follow-up to Career Day, provides a way to address Common Core writing standards within counseling lessons, and results in some very nifty, personalized thank-you gifts for our Career Day guests.
The student-driven, technology-based CareerSmarts unit offers several ways to assess student learning:
- For each career they explore through web-based career exploration and in-person interviews during Career Day, students fill out the Career Investigation Survey, which gives me an idea how well they can apply their knowledge of multiple intelligences and whether they understand the educational requirements of each job.
- For the unit’s final project, students create avatars of themselves in their future careers, in which they synthesize what they have learned throughout the unit and apply it to their favorite topic – themselves!
- The Career Trading Cards help kids demonstrate the depth of their learning during Career Day.
To create their Career Trading Cards, kids use the Trading Cards app , which is very engaging and easy to use, and allows for sharing a lot of information in summary form. (Both iPad and Android versions are available). The kids work in pairs, which I set up in advance to make sure that the pair will be successful, and that at least one card is created for each guest. They use their Career Day Interview Forms to help them remember the information that they gathered. Here are the steps to creating a trading card:
- select the “Real Person” category
- name the card with the job title
- choose from a number of different card designs
- insert a photo of the Career Day guest if desired
- Fill in information about the guest’s background, job description, and motivation, along with students’ memorable moments and personal connections from Career Day (120 character limit for each section)
Trading Cards provides a guiding question for each section, but I found that I had to adapt them to ensure that the kids are thinking about and sharing information that reflects what they have been learning in the CareerSmarts unit. It is not possible to change the template’s section headings or subheadings, which I would have if I could, but the template works just fine as is, if you let the kids know what is expected. First, I show them this example I made about the career of school counselor, as if I had been a Career Day guest:
To enter information on their trading card, students tap one of the sections, and a guiding question pops up. These guiding questions are not exactly what I want them to answer for this project, so I created this Trading Card Questions card with the exact questions they need to respond to. I leave it projected on the SmartBoard while they work so that they can check to make sure that they are including the proper information.
During the class I circulate to make sure that kids are on task and to help with any spelling or editing needs. Most of the pairs are able to finish their trading card within the class time, but there are a few I have to follow up with during morning work, snack, or recess time. Some of them are able to do two or even all three of their interviewees during the class time (or they ask to do them during those extra times!)
When the Career Trading Cards are done and I’ve checked them over, the kids save them and email them to me. I then send them on to the Career Day guests, with the tagline, “Look! You’re famous enough to warrant a trading card!” The guests are really surprised (we don’t let on about the career trading cards in advance) and delighted to get them. Here are some of the responses I received:
These cards are so cute! Thank you for showing them to me :) Your students are absolutely charming.
Seeing these really gave me a good laugh today! I’m very glad that I had a positive impact on some of the students. It was certainly my pleasure to attend and have the chance to possibly interest the students in the world of engineering. Thanks again for having me and I hope to be able to attend again in the future.
I have heard that quite a few of our career trading cards have been shown off in our guests’ work settings, including this one, which was proudly displayed in my son’s office, much to the amusement (and possible jealousy) of his co-workers:
The Career Trading Cards are a great way for kids to demonstrate their learning, but they’re more than that too. They’re lots of fun for the kids to create, and they truly do help them pull together and remember what they have learned. Just this week, more than a year after my current fifth graders completed the CareerSmarts unit, a group of boys was talking about college. One of them, who had created the card above said:
“I’m going to college for Sport Management so I can be an account manager at Burton. Mrs. Lallier’s son is one and he gets to bring his dog to work and go snowboarding for free. And his job is really good for people who are friendly and like to talk to people – that’s just like me!”
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