How to Teach a 7th Grade JAG Program Blog Feature
Bri Stauffer

By: Bri Stauffer on June 6th, 2019

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How to Teach a 7th Grade JAG Program

Career Readiness | Middle School | Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG)

Middle schools across the United States have started implementing career readiness as an integral part of education.

In many states, schools work with the national non-profit organization Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) to prepare students for their future careers.jag-logo

The JAG national network works to decrease dropout rates and help students become college and career ready. They also aim to improve academic performance and develop every student’s basic career skills.

To accomplish this, JAG has built more than 1,250 programs across 34 states, many of which start at the middle school level!

Specifically, the 7th grade JAG curriculum includes seven topic areas:

  1. Self-Understanding
  2. Communication
  3. Organizational Skills
  4. Study Skills
  5. Decision Making
  6. Character Development
  7. Team Building

That’s quite a variety of skills to teach middle school students!

So how can you actually start to teach these topics in your classroom?

We find it’s best to tackle one skill at a time, starting with self-understanding!

1. Self-Understanding


Self-understanding, often referred to as self-awareness, involves exploring personal interests, abilities, and aptitudes in order to set goals for future schooling and careers.

It can be difficult to teach self-understanding because many middle school students are still discovering themselves and don’t know how their interests relate to career options.

That’s why you need to incorporate classroom lessons that teach your students the concepts of self-understanding and tie it in with career awareness!

So, where can you find lessons that fit the bill?

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) answers this question with their Educator’s Toolkit, which teaches college and career readiness skills.

In the toolkit, you’ll find a section that has four self-awareness lesson plans:

Each of these lesson plans includes all the information you need to incorporate them into your classroom. You’ll find an overview, lesson objectives, a material list, activity instructions, and more.

In total, if you use all of the lessons from start to finish, these lessons will fill seven 45-minute class periods.

Depending on how much time you want to spend on self-understanding you can pick different pieces of the lessons based on what works best in your class!

2. Communication


Communication is a necessary skill, no matter what career path your students take!

Your students may think they communicate effectively, at least through digital means.

But texting apps don’t help students learn about key concepts like vocal tone, listening skills, and non-verbal communication.

Because of this, your communication lessons should include all of these aspects and more!

It can take a lot of time and effort to build great communication lessons and activities.

Fortunately, it’s much easier when you have the right communication lesson plans for middle school students!

In general, it’s important to teach:

  • Listening skills
  • Verbal communication
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Collaboration

Each item on the list can help you teach any middle school student how to hone their skills to communicate more effectively!

3. Organizational Skills


Organizational skills are often overlooked as part of middle school career readiness.

Sometimes, teachers expect students to know how to stay organized before they enter middle school. But the truth is, organization isn’t usually taught in elementary school -- at least not at the level that’s needed in middle school and beyond!

That’s why students need to be taught how to organize their lives.

Surprisingly, it’s easy to teach these skills when you have lessons that resonate with your students, including:

  • Providing students with an agenda and teaching them how to use it
  • Giving students a “take home folder”
  • Modeling organization in the classroom
  • Teaching students to use dividers
  • And more!

Once you’ve tackled how to stay organized in school, wrap up your lesson with a learning scenario to help your students understand the context of organization skills in a variety of jobs.

4. Study Skills


Study skills are one of the only areas in the JAG middle school curriculum that’s specifically designed to help your students perform better academically.

However, these skills are just as important as career-related ones.

In the end, good study skills will ultimately help your students learn the other skills in your JAG curriculum!04-study-skills-tpt

The lesson and activity bundle from Teachers Pay Teachers called Study Like a BOSS {Secondary Study Skills} is one of the best resources to teach study skills to your students.

This collection will help you cover study skills in a variety of ways by providing classroom activities, student handouts, and more!

5. Decision Making


To the surprise of many, decision making is actually a skill that middle school students can learn.

 Students respond best to decision making lessons when they’re presented as relatable activities or scenarios.

The “In A Pickle” activity from Teachers Pay Teachers is a popular resource that middle school science teachers use to teach decision making.05-decision-making-tpt

This activity provides a number of resources, including:

  • 32 scenario-based question cards
  • Instructions for the teacher
  • Classroom posters
  • Questions for class discussion
  • A student worksheet

After this introduction, it’s smart to use a second resource to relate these skills to the workplace.

We recommend you head back to the Florida DOE’s toolkit and use their lesson plan on informed decision making!

This activity-based lesson will help your students apply what they’ve learned about making decisions in a career-related context.

With both of these resources, you’ll cover decision making thoroughly enough for any student!

6. Character Development


Character development is the action of intentionally working on self-growth. This can include characteristics such as perseverance, optimism, and self-control, among others.

Because character development doesn’t have a specific definition, it’s tough to know how to teach it -- especially to middle schoolers!

Luckily, Edutopia has a “5-minute film festival” for teaching students about character that you can use to mix things up in the classroom.

The page includes a number of video-based resources that illustrate different aspects of character.

In addition to the videos, you’ll find some bonus resources that Edutopia recommends to help you teach more about character development!

To go even more in-depth, you could extend your unit to cover the six pillars of character!

7. Team Building


Team building, or teamwork, is a crucial skill for middle schoolers both in and out of the classroom.

No matter what career they choose, students will likely work with others to accomplish certain tasks or projects.

And while there are a ton of resources out there that talk about teamwork in general, there are only a few for middle school!

That includes lessons from:

  • The US Department of Labor
  • Teachers Pay Teachers
  • Business&ITCenter21

Each resource can easily help you teach team building in your classroom, and you could even use more than one to really hit it home!

Start Teaching Your 7th Grade JAG Program Today!

For many teachers, mixing and matching different resources takes a ton of time.

In addition, it can be tough to provide a consistent learning experience for your students from one day to the next.

That’s why middle school JAG teachers have started using a system that covers most of their requirements and does the time-consuming work for them!

The AES digital curriculum system is designed to make your life easier when teaching soft skills like communication, teamwork, and leadership.

In fact, it has specific career readiness modules that will help you meet your JAG requirements!

Specifically, we recommend teachers use these modules to teach 7th grade JAG classes:

  • Career Development
  • Business Communication
  • Written Communication
  • Professionalism
  • How to Ace This Class

Want to learn more? Click below to see the full career readiness curriculum catalog!

View the Career Readiness Curriclum Catalog


About Bri Stauffer

Bri collaborates with others at AES to create content that answers your questions about teaching classes, preparing students for certifications, and making the most of the AES digital curriculum.

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