Academic Innovations

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Frequently Asked Questions

What if the students I work with are still struggling with basic skills?
Career Choices is academically based, providing basic skill practice disguised as self-discovery. What was once viewed as "drill and skill" is now camouflaged by meaningful personal exercises and activities. By the end of the class, attitudes about education drastically change because students understand how being able to read, write, and compute directly impacts their futures.

Is it really possible to get the average 14-year-old to write a comprehensive 10-year plan for their future?
Absolutely! When taught in sequence, Career Choices leads students through a step-by-step process (up to 100 active-learning exercises) that enables them to articulate who they are and what they want their lives to look like after high school. Each of the activities builds on the ones before. When documented in the Workbook and Portfolio, students can easily compile their plan and store it online to reassess, review, modify, or update later.

What is the reading level of the texts?
Career Choices has been evaluated at a 9th grade reading level. Possibilities has selections that are included in the English "canon" for middle school and high school, primarily at 9th grade.

My students have low reading levels (two to three grades below). Can the curriculum work for them as well?
More than 17,500 JTPA participants used the Career Choices curriculum during the summers of 1994 and 1995. The JTPA population includes a high percentage of students with reading levels well below grade level. Because the material covered in the curriculum is so relevant to the adolescents, the motivation is present to try harder to read, understand and comprehend the written word. Instructors report that the unique design of the text is also "friendlier" to the students. Because students feel less threatened by Career Choices than by more traditional textbooks, they are more willing to struggle with their reading.

Will Career Choices work with my special population?
San Gabriel High School, an East Los Angeles High School, combines Career Choices with Speech to introduce cooperative learning skills vastly needed in the world of work. This class population is 85% students of color, bringing to the table many different values and dreams. For greater detail see Career Guidance: Helping Students Make Smart Choices.

In Minnesota, the English department teams up with On-the-Job (OTJ) to create Transitions, a comprehensive class for Special Education seniors headed for the workplace right after graduation. The innovative teachers used Career Choices to help these special students overcome their fears and start envisioning their future. For more detail see Vocational Guidance for the Special Education Classroom.

In the Medina County Ohio School District, the School-to-Work Coordinator overcame the challenge of reviving a failed training and employment program for at-risk youth. These students were mainly fifth year seniors who were not expected to graduate. The educators integrated Career Choices with Possibilities and Lifestyle Math to create a very successful, very real-life experience for these students that gave them a sense of hope. For additional information see Life 101: Career Guidance for At-Risk Youth

How can we implement Career Choices in our Tech Prep program?
If Tech Prep programs are to succeed, students must come to them willingly and with enthusiasm. And to do that, they must understand what's in it for them, what impact it will have on their future life satisfaction. The Career Choices program was specifically designed to give the guidance experience in an academic setting that will produce motivated learners.

Young people today have more choices about how to structure their lives than any other generation before them. And because of the complexity of today's technological world, it is imperative that students make more and more sophisticated choices at a younger and younger age (for many states, as early as the 10th or 11th grade).

We can no longer afford to leave the career planning and guidance tasks to "time and experience." Students need to focus on their educational options early, as they will be asked to make a choice of Tech Prep versus college prep.

It is imperative today that young people receive 45 to 180 hours of in-classroom guidance curriculum that teaches them a process for dealing with the various changes and choices they will face over their lifetime. The ideal age for this is between 13 and 15 years old, just prior to them being asked to make important educational decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.

This can be accomplished in the English/language arts classroom while at the same time meeting the learning objects of the traditional English classroom.
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