Teach With INFOhio

Create Opportunities for Career Exploration in Grades 6-8 with INFOhio

Author // Mary Rowland Friday, 13 January 2023

Career Exploration

Middle school is a prime opportunity to engage students in focused career exploration. Students are empowered with a growing sense of self-awareness and exposure to a variety of careers is crucial at this time. During middle school, students develop opinions that will shape the classes they select in high school and the careers they pursue after graduation. Exposing middle-grade students to STEM careers may encourage more students to pursue jobs in computer science and math. This exposure can help to attract greater diversity to a growing field of in-demand jobs (Boyington, 2018). Successful career exploration experiences builds self-efficacy in middle school students and could encourage students to graduate high school and remain focused on achieving career goals (Glessner et al., 2017). 

Career Exploration Supports SEL

In June 2019, the Department of Education and Workforce adopted the Social and Emotional Learning Standards. These include standards that encourage the development of self-awareness, a trait that can help students accomplish personal goals and explore career paths. Through self-assessment of personal interests, strengths, and skills, and reflection on preferences for work environments, middle-grade students can build awareness to help them prepare for their future. Next, students can explore the education and training required using ODE's Career Connections Frameworks. To learn more about how INFOhio resources can support social and emotional learning for students in grades 6-8, read this Teach With INFOhio Blog post.

What can grade 6-8 teachers do?

Supported by the Department of Education and Workforce, the Career Connections Framework is a planning tool for districts to provide students with opportunities to develop realistic plans for their futures. Below is a list of suggested career activities for Grades 6-8 classrooms.

  • Guide career research projects.
  • Have students explore careers and create backpacks on OhioMeansJobs K-12.
  • Teach students about the various aspects of the workplace.
  • Familiarize yourself with your school's career advising policy.
  • Refer to the Ohio Career Advising Toolkit for engagement activities for strategizing and developing comprehensive career advising plans.
  • Seek professional development to understand educators' role and purpose in making students aware of available career pathways.
  • Connect to and consider establishing career-tech student organizations.
  • Facilitate a shadow-an-adult-to-work day.
  • Organize workplace visits with career interviews.

Implementing Career Exploration in the Classroom with INFOhio

Wondering where to start with career research projects? Don't have the time to curate career resources for your students? Pique career curiosity among your students with INFOhio resources. INFOhio has quality, vetted resources available at no cost to support career research and inquiry projects, with access to meaningful assessments to cultivate self-awareness and librarian-approved web resources about careers from accountant to zookeeper.

Visit INFOhio Campus, and explore the IWonder Class to learn how to incorporate Genius Hour activities into the classroom. Genius Hour can be customized to provide students an opportunity to engage in meaningful career exploration activities. 

INFOhio's IWonder

Inspire career curiosity with IWonder, a collection of age-appropriate, librarian-selected websites on a range of topics about career exploration. Students can continue to build self-awareness through a variety of skills and interest assessments with My Next Move. Ready for the next step? Students can explore websites to learn more about different jobs, how to plan for the future, and careers in the growing field of information technology. NASA Career Corner is designed for students in grades 5-8 to highlight the career opportunities at NASA for artists, writers, and educators.

INFOhio's Digital Video Collection

More than 1700 videos on careers, science, and technology from Infobase's Learn360 platform have been purchased by INFOhio and added to the Digital Video Collection (DVC). Learn360 videos are standards-aligned, segmented, and downloadable. Videos can be shared with others, or added to a learning management system using the URL in the address bar. Search the DVC for videos on in-demand careers and learn more about the workplace, training, and skills from interviews with industry professionals. 

 Career6 8DVCandInfobase

ScienceFlix: Careers in Science

STEM is one of the fastest-growing career fields. Experts estimate that careers in STEM will grow more than 11% over the next 10 years. Bridge the gap between literacy and career exploration and use Careers in Science articles with free read Friday. Devote one Friday each month to foster an interest in STEM careers and ask students to select a career article from the alphabetized list from Careers in Science in ScienceFlix. Each article provides an overview of the career along with quick facts providing entry-level education requirements, job outlook, and median pay. 

Career6 8CareerInScience

STEM & Career eBooks (Gale)

Gale eBooks offer unlimited, simultaneous use ensuring each student in your class can use eBooks from this collection to explore careers and develop greater self-awareness. Middle school is an ideal time to engage students in self-awareness activities. Check out the eBook titles below to consider using to help students imagine future career opportunities and chart a course to accomplish their career goals. 

Engage students as they read each eBook with reflection questions and activities. Use the Gale eBooks Independent Book Study document to begin implementing eBooks in your classroom. 

Career6 8eBookGale 

Looking for Career Exploration Lesson Plans?

Open Space: Career Connections Collection

Discover freely available lesson plans, tools, and resources for bringing career exploration into the classroom with the Career Connections Collection from INFOhio's Open Space. The resources in this collection encourage students to research careers, develop employability skills, enlist in the service, or develop a plan for post-secondary employment. The learning material in this collection has been reviewed by the Ohio Department of Education's Office of Graduate Success and supports career-connected education for K-12 students. These resources have been grouped together to help educators locate materials for instruction, but this collection does not constitute an endorsement by the Ohio Department of Education. 


Middle school can be challenging for students as new learning environments and changes in relationships with peers can leave many feeling isolated, frustrated, and disengaged. However with focused career exploration, instruction, and intervention, students can become empowered and connected to their learning experience. A growing sense of empowerment builds self-awareness and confidence to pursue career goals in high school.

About the Author

Posted by: Mary Rowland

Mary Rowland is a Senior Instructional Specialist with INFOhio. A former high school English teacher with 14 years of teaching experience, Mary is an accomplished leader who facilitated professional development in her previous district on integrating web-based tools into the classroom, Google Apps for Education, and writing across the curriculum. During her career, Mary mentored student teachers and served on both the district and building leadership committees. She has earned a BA in English, an MS in Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, and is a Google Certified Educator Level 2. Mary is passionate about supporting INFOhio’s mission to help Ohio’s educators integrate the tools and resources to strengthen education for Ohio’s students.

Mary Rowland
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