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Career Exploration | Middle School | Lesson Plans

3 Best Middle School Career Exploration Curriculum Options

June 23rd, 2022 | 9 min. read

Mike Cescon

Mike Cescon

With past experience in teaching, a couple of degrees in writing, and an upbringing immersed in medical jargon, Mike is positioned well to hear out the most common questions teachers ask about the iCEV curriculum. His goal is to write content that quickly and effectively answers these questions so you can back to what matters - teaching your students.

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If you want to truly open the minds of your middle schoolers to the career possibilities out there, then teaching a unit or course on career exploration is the right way to go. These courses allow students to examine many different options so they can decide on the future that resonates with them the most. 

But what curriculum options are available to teach career exploration? For such a critical course, you’re going to need more than a single project or activity. Instead, your course has to be thorough and comprehensive, or else your kids may walk away learning nothing about themselves at all. 

As a career readiness curriculum developer, teachers often come to us looking for middle school career exploration curriculum. In response, we created a list of some of the best options to use in your classroom. 

In this article, you’ll discover 3 of the best career exploration curriculum options out there for your middle school class:

  1. Career Exploration Curriculum from eDynamic Learning
  2. Career Exploration and Literacy Curriculum from ACPE
  3. Direct Your Future from Oklahoma CareerTech

By the end of this article, you’ll better understand each of these options so you can make the right pick for your course. 

1. Career Exploration Curriculum from eDynamic Learning

Gauge Capital Invests in Kelowna's eDynamic Learning | T-Net News

eDynamic Learning (eDL) is a curriculum provider that offers hundreds of courses covering several CTE pathways. Their mission is to offer educational content that helps students explore their passions and earn valuable industry certifications. 

eDL offers a pair of courses covering middle school career exploration. Their first, Middle School Career Exploration 1, consists of 8 units that guide students through different industries in order to give them a rundown of the career options in each:

  1. Just Starting Out: Thinking About Careers
  2. Knowledge and Innovation: Inventing the Future
  3. Planners, Builders, Fabricators: Assembling Our World
  4. Enterprise and Money Matters: Trading Goods & Services
  5. Law & Order: Helping Communities Flourish
  6. Entertaining and Exploring: Enhancing Our Downtime
  7. Progressive and Adaptable: Meeting Our Changing Needs
  8. Your Turn! Choosing a Career Path that Works for You

On the other hand, Middle School Career Exploration 2 uses its 8 units to educate students on the training, planning, and skills they must develop for their career of choice: 

  1. Finding Your Strengths and Turning Them into a Career
  2. Setting Goals and Creating a Game Plan
  3. Working on Your Workplace Skills
  4. Experimenting with Careers, Part One
  5. Experimenting with Careers, Part Two
  6. Gaining Experience
  7. Getting the Training You Need
  8. Preparing for a Job

eDL focuses on striking a balance between comprehensiveness and engagement. Each unit includes teaching materials like lesson plans, activities, discussion questions, slideshows, videos---really, all the materials you’ll need for a full course. 

Because eDL’s courses are robust enough to cover an entire semester or year of instruction, these two options should be more than enough to handle the needs of your course. When combined, they will provide your middle schoolers a well-rounded education on pursuing the careers of their dreams.

How Much Does This Curriculum Cost?

One of the downsides of eDynamic Learning’s course offerings is that they don’t sell directly to teachers, but instead to schools and districts. That means if you want access to these course materials, you’ll have to check in with your school district to see whether they have or want to provide eDL materials. 

In addition, pricing information is unavailable on eDL’s website. You’ll have to reach out to them directly if you want specifics on how much their products will cost your district.

Who Is This Curriculum Intended For?

eDL’s career exploration courses would fit well for middle school teachers who want a quality and consistent curriculum that they will be able to teach use year after year. This is especially the case if you need to teach an full semester or even year-long career exploration course. 

To use these lessons, however, you’ll have to contact your school district to see whether they offer courses from eDL. That means this option likely wouldn’t be a good fit for teachers who need a career exploration curriculum fast, or are otherwise pressed for time. Likewise, if your district doesn’t have a curriculum purchase in their budget, you’d be better off looking elsewhere. 

If you need a comprehensive, engaging career exploration curriculum and have the time necessary to implement it, eDL’s Middle School Career Exploration courses may be the best choice for you. 

2. Career Exploration and Literacy Curriculum from ACPE

Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education | …expanding access and  increasing success in postsecondary education for Arizonans

The Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education (ACPE) is an organization dedicated to ensuring Arizonan students more easily access and achieve success in postsecondary education. They accomplish this by providing resources like financial assistance and instructional materials so that both students and teachers can achieve a higher quality of education.

One of the resources ACPE offers is a free Career Exploration and Literacy Curriculum. This curriculum is divided into 25 lessons split across 4 modules, enough to cover a several weeks of classes on career exploration. These modules and lessons include: 

Module 1: Introduction

  • Introduction Lesson

Module 2: Who Am I?

  • Qualities for Success Lesson
  • My Accomplishments Lesson

Module 3: What Do I Want to Do?

  • The Workplace and Workforce of the 21st Century Lesson
  • Values - What’s Important to You Lesson
  • Piecing Together the Career Cluster Lesson

Module 4: How Do I Get There?

  • My Career Action Plan Lesson
  • My High School Course Plan Lesson
  • Paying for College Lesson
  • Preparing for Postsecondary Future Lesson

Over the course of these lessons, students learn about the National Career Clusters and other potential career pathways they could take. They then explore the pay and educational requirements associated with several different careers. This helps them determine whether their career of choice will be the right fit for the financial lifestyle they want. 

Some of the resources included in these modules to help students along are downloadable worksheets, lesson plans, handouts, pre- and post-course assessments to gauge student knowledge, and an in-depth research project that students complete on two career options of their choice. 

An important point to keep in mind, however, is that many of these resources were intended to be used alongside the Arizona Career Information System (AzCIS). If you teach outside of Arizona and don’t have access to AzCIS, you may have to tweak some of the lessons to make them better work for your course.

How Much Does This Curriculum Cost?

ACPE’s Career Exploration and Literacy Curriculum is completely free to download off the ACPE website. This makes it an excellent choice for teachers looking for a robust resource they can quickly incorporate into their classrooms.

Who Is This Curriculum Intended For?

This middle school career exploration curriculum would be a good fit for teachers who want a quality free resource that they can use to teach several weeks on this topic. Though the curriculum relies on AzCIS here and there for student assignments, the vast majority of it can be easily adapted to most middle school classrooms. 

This course could also be used to supplement an existing career exploration curriculum. If you only need to cherry-pick a few lessons or activities here and there, it would be a strong contender to supply you with much of what you need. 

If you teach a middle school career readiness course and need a solid, free curriculum to teach a large unit on career exploration, this option would be a great choice for you.

3. Direct Your Future from Oklahoma CareerTech

Oklahoma CareerTech Delivers - Powering Oklahoma's Economy

The Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation is a government-associated organization dedicated to granting students greater opportunities for career and technology education. To accomplish this goal, it provides resources, programs, and services to students across the state to help them succeed.

One of the resources CareerTech offers is Direct Your Future, an educational program that has students explore careers and map the pathway they want their future to take.

This curriculum is divided into 11 modules, each of which takes about an hour to complete: 

  1. Scanning the World of Possibilities
  2. Mapping the Future
  3. Determining Your Direction
  4. Embarking on a Voyage of Self-Discovery
  5. Exploring the Destinations
  6. Finding Your Personal Compass Points
  7. Using Guideposts to Direct Your Journey
  8. Refining the Destinations
  9. Charting Your Course
  10. Writing Your Personal Logbook
  11. Planning for Getting a Job

These modules come with teaching materials like lesson plans, activities, PowerPoint presentations, and more, available in either PDF formats or as downloads. Ultimately, these resources will help your students answer questions about who they are, what they want to do, and how they want their future to look. 

While these modules are intended for both high school or middle school students, you should note that modules 2 and 11 contain more advanced content. CareerTech recommends that these modules be reserved purely for high school students. 

How Much Does This Curriculum Cost?

The Direct Your Future curriculum is completely free to download from CareerTech’s website. This makes it a strong fit for teachers with small class budgets or limited time. 

Who Is This Curriculum Intended For?

This middle school career exploration curriculum is an excellent choice for teachers who need quick, quality lessons they can incorporate into their classroom. Because it only has about 9 hours of middle school-level content, however, you would likely only be able to use it to teach a smaller unit on career exploration, rather than a full course. 

The material in this curriculum could also work well to supplement an existing career exploration curriculum. If you already have the bulk of your course composed, then picking what activities or lessons you need from this program might go a long way toward padding the rest out. 

If you need a free resource to help you teach a short unit on career exploration—or simply want a few lesson plans to supplement your existing course—then Direct Your Future would be a good pick for you.

Looking for a Middle School Career Exploration Curriculum You Can Use Right Away?

Finding the right middle school career exploration curriculum can be a hassle. After all, what you truly want to do is teach your kids about who they are and how they can use their passions and interests to make a future for themselves. And to do that, you need the right lessons. 

In this article, you’ve discovered some of the best curriculum options out there to teach your career exploration course. These resources are in-depth, well-rounded, and suited to a variety of classroom needs. 

However, if you need more content to use right away for your middle school course, check out this free downloadable career exploration lesson plan from the Business&ITCenter21 catalog. 

Business&ITCenter21 is a curriculum system with over 100 hours of content dedicated to middle school career readiness—enough to cover all of your needs. This lesson plan in particular is designed to help your students identify career choices, goals, and the education they’ll need to achieve the future they want:

Get My Free Career Exploration Lesson Plan >