Saturday, May 9, 2015

Update: Their Future's So Bright They Have To Wear Shades Project

The students finished their projects and they are posted in the hallway over their lockers.
They look absolutely fabulous. The only thing missing from the picture above is the sign that we hung above them. The sign read: I'M DOING ALL RIGHT, GETTING GOOD GRADES, MY FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT I HAVE TO WEAR SHADES. (Yes for those of you who grew up in the 80's like I did I am sure you remember the song, if not here is a link to the VIDEO.) The students are so proud of their work and really liked focusing on what they wanted to do with their lives after they graduate. I wanted to post the entire lesson steps here for those of you who might want to do this project with your kiddos. I am also going to post this as a free project on TeachersPayTeachers. I plan on this being an annual event for my class each spring.

The Visual

Step 1:(I created my own the night before so students could see what their final product was expected to look like. This really helped some of my kiddos.) Each of my students chose a piece of construction paper to create their shades. After they folded it in half I gave them their sunglasses template and reminded them to put the nose piece of their sunglasses on the paper fold. After cutting out the glasses they were instructed to fold, but not crease, the lenses and cut them on the line.

Step 2: Each of the students received a piece of white construction paper and glued their glasses to the upper half of their paper. They were instructed to draw a picture of what they thought they would look like in the future. Be sure to tell them NOT to draw their eyes.

Step 3: My kids couldn't wait to draw in their lenses so I instructed them to pretend that they were actually wearing the sunglasses and draw what they saw. I explained that the lenses were mirrored so they were actually reflecting what their future looked like. I encouraged them to draw their future homes, families, and any other things they wanted to have. Living in Oklahoma I was surprised at how many of them drew themselves on the beach!


The students used the Bureau of Labor Statistics to research their future careers. They have a special site designed for children to research jobs based upon what they like to do. Topics include: building and fixing things, transportation, social studies, healthcare, and a myriad of other categories. Students click on a category and a list of jobs that are related pop up. Students choose an individual job and they see what the median salary for that career is as well as prerequisites necessary to be employed in that field. It is an eye opener for students to see how many jobs actually require years and years of college study and training. The only thing I wish they would add to the site is a link to the different military branches. One of my students wanted to be a mechanic in the United States Air Force so I directed him to the USAF site (I am a veteran of the Air Force myself and make sure to encourage students who want to join the military to research different MOS's on each branches websites.)

I encouraged the students to write down the information on 3 different careers they were interested in. Once they completed this phase of the project it was off to the next step:

College and Career Training

When I asked my students what colleges they wanted to go to the majority of them said The University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University. Great choices, but unfortunately the colleges did not always offer the courses they needed to receive a degree in their chosen field. My boys who want to be police officers discovered that they could attend a junior college to satisfy the requirements for their career. One of my girls wanted to be a midwife and realized that she had to go to nursing school then finish a program on midwifery offered at few colleges (she eventually chose a college in California). One of my brightest student who wants to be an OB GYN decided on going to college in Houston and do her residency at a Texas hospital, while another of my girls who wants to be a teacher opted out of attending college in Oklahoma and decided on Arizona instead.

The Report

Once the students were finished with their research it was time for them to write their report. The report had to have at least 3 paragraphs that described what their future career goal would be, what they would have to study or do to achieve that goal, what their family would look like, and where they would live. They were encouraged to add whatever else they wanted. Many students added that they wanted to travel, have horses as well as other pets, and what they wanted for their own children. I was really impressed at the depth some of my students went into. When the were finished with their first drafts we revised and edited, then they were given the "special" career paper for their final draft which was stapled to the bottom of their pictures.

All in all this project took about a week to complete with students working in 45 minute to 1 hours sessions. They really liked getting on the computer and doing their research. They also learned how much work actually goes into becoming a professional. One of my less than motivated student's career goal was to be rich. That's it, she just wanted to be rich. When she was forced to take that abstract concept and see what it would actually take to be "rich" she realized that not doing her homework, not doing her personal best on her classwork, and simply "hating" math was counterproductive to what she hoped to have. This little girl's parents were told during parent teacher conferences that she was in danger of being retained unless she attended summer school and viola-after this project her summer school form was signed and returned to school! I chalk this project up as a win for her.