Create a Great Future: STEM Career Research Using Close Reading

6 - 12
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
Two 60-minute sessions
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In this lesson, teachers scaffold student reading of websites that highlight science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Before choosing a text for close reading, the teacher models how to “read” the variety of texts and features on different websites, including images and interactives. Then the teacher models a close reading with students, setting a purpose and asking text-dependent questions before, during, and after to help students find evidence, use inferencing skills, and peer edit. These questions help students gather the necessary evidence to create their own poems and trading cards using career-specific language.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Fisher and Frey define text-dependent questions as "effective questions about literature and nonfiction texts [that] require students to delve into a text to find answers" (p. 70).

  • Six categories of text-dependent questions that move a reader from finding evidence to making inferences are identified; they include general understanding; key details; vocabulary and text structure; purposes; inferences; and opinions, arguments, and intertextual connections.
  • Hinchman and Moore discuss close reading as a deep, probing analysis of texts.

  • Reading and rereading is necessary to obtain deep understandings of texts.

  • Educators design different points of entry and scaffolding to accommodate individual differences while reading.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Materials and Technology

  • Computer with Internet access and LCD projector

  • Computers or tablet devices for students to use to create their trading cards and word mover poems





  1. Familiarize yourself with some of the websites that contain information about STEM careers by using Career Cornerstone Center, and bookmark whatever other sites you’d like to use with your students. Note that in this lesson, we use iOnFuture: The STEM Career Exploration Game as an example. (If your students need assistance in how to read and evaluate websites, please refer to the ReadWriteThink lesson on evaluating websites, Hoax or No Hoax: Strategies for Online Comprehension and Evaluation and use the Online Comprehension Strategies Diagram to help students read the websites.)

  2. Familiarize yourself with the Word Mover Planning Sheet, and plan to use it with the Word Mover.

  3. Familiarize yourself with the Trading Card Creator. In this lesson, questions relate to the Real Person card. Use the Career Trading Card Planning Sheet; these questions have been modified to fit the activity, so students should use the prompts and questions on this sheet rather than those included on the trading card prompts.


Student Objectives

Students will

  • Examine websites in order to find evidence to answer questions

  • Evaluate informational text to find, comprehend, and use discipline-specific language

  • Present information in new ways by creating career trading cards and word mover poems about their chosen STEM career

  • Evaluate a presentation of information by conducting peer evaluations of trading cards

Session 1

Note: If students are highly literate with websites, one session is sufficient. However, if you wish to include more instruction on website reading and evaluation, you may want to break this into two separate sessions, especially if you decide to extend the amount of time students spend learning to comprehend websites. The directions in this session are modeled on the iOnFuture: The STEM Career Exploration Game. The first session involves students choosing important words, phrases, and quotes that describe a particular career. Students then use these words, phrases, and quotes when they create their career word mover poems using the Word Mover Planning Sheet.

  1. Bring up iOnFuture: The STEM Career Exploration Game on your computer, and project it using your LCD projector. Model for students how you "read" the website. As you illustrate how to use the site, conduct a screen walk; like a picture walk through a book, use think-alouds to guide the students through the various screens. For example, discuss how students can find careers listed across the top row under "Explore STEM Careers."

  2. In order to introduce STEM careers to students, scroll down to the "Play Games" section and project the "STEM is Everywhere" game. Tell students that while you are playing the game together, they should pay attention to any STEM careers that interest them.

  3. Model playing the game for students. Choose one of the careers and conduct a read-aloud and think-aloud. While displaying and reading through the chosen career, do the following:

    • Pause on any discipline-specific words that are important to the career. Ask students to decode the words using clues in the text.

    • Ask students to examine the text for any important or significant words and phrases the author uses to describe the position.

    • Ask students to search for important words, phrases, and quotes that describe the chosen career as you read. Record their answers. Ask questions about their choices, such as those listed on the Word Mover Planning Sheet.
  4. Hand out copies of the Word Mover Planning Sheet. Have each student choose a career and record their discipline-specific words, quotes, and phrases on their sheet.

  5. Ask students to use the Word Mover to create their own informational poems using the words, phrases, and quotes they've found. The goal is to make the poem reflect the career. Follow these steps:

    • Have students create a blank poem page.

    • Have students record their words, phrases, and quotes on word mover cards.

    • Tell students to move the cards around to create their poems. They can add or take away words as necessary.

    • Ask students to print their poems. If you'd like, they can share the poems with a peer, who should read it and reflect on his or her understanding of the career based on the information presented.

Have students hand in their completed Word Mover Planning Sheets and word mover poems for your review.

Session 2

Note: This session may be broken up into two sessions in order to provide more time for students to create their own trading cards and evaluate the trading cards of their peers. During this session, students once again research their careers. Use the Career Trading Card Planning Sheet for the first part of the session, and have students fill in their own trading cards in the second part of the session. Then they can trade cards and evaluate the card of one of their peers.

  1. During this session, students gather the information they need to create their career trading cards. (Note that the questions included in the Real Person Trading Cards don't exactly fit the requirements of this activity. Therefore, the questions and prompts are modified on the Career Trading Card Planning Sheet.) Explain this to students, and model how to fill in the questions as you research one position. Conduct this as a shared research activity where students help you pick out information to fill in on the planning sheet.

  2. After you research a particular position, model the use of the Trading Card Creator by creating your own card using your information. Show students how you also use the words, phrases, and quotes from your word mover poem to enrich the information you have collected on your Career Trading Card Planning Sheet.

  3. Have students create their own cards, first filling out their own Career Trading Card Planning Sheets. Then, after each student completes his or her own career trading card, have students trade with a partner and complete a peer evaluation using the Peer Evaluation Rubric. After trading with a classmate and peer editing, each student should take back his or her card and evaluation. Students may then choose to edit their current card or complete a new card.

  4. At the end of the session, ask students to hand in their Career Trading Card Planning Sheets and their trading cards for you to evaluate using the Trading Card Evaluation Rubric.


  • Using the research they collected while creating their Word Mover poems and career Trading cards, students can create a persuasive podcast about their chosen career.
  • In order to extend learning about specific careers, have students create informational essays about their chosen career. Using the information they collected through their research, they can use the interactive Essay Map.

  • After students trade cards with a partner, ask them to compare and contrast different careers. They can use the interactive Compare and Contrast Map to plan their essays.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  1. Review students' Word Mover Planning Sheets and Career Trading Card Planning Sheets to see if they were able to read websites and gather information about their chosen careers effectively.

  2. Read students' word mover poems with an eye to whether they've presented the information about their chosen career well and completely.

  3. Use the Trading Card Evaluation Rubric to assess student understanding of the careers and to ensure that they used and understood the disciplinary language of their chosen careers in creating their final career trading cards.

  4. Monitor students while they trade cards and use the Peer Evaluation Rubric to peer review each other's work and learn about different careers. Review their final trading cards to make sure they incorporated the feedback they were given into a good final presentation of their careers.
K-12 Teacher
Awesome work put into this. Thank you!
K-12 Teacher
Awesome work put into this. Thank you!
K-12 Teacher
Awesome work put into this. Thank you!

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