Investigating Statistics

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners explore a government website to find statistics and facts about unemployment. They look for a correlation between education, income level, and employment. After gathering information, students propose ideas for encouraging people to get further education (or dropout prevention). They choose an audience and a format for sharing statistics in an interesting and motivating way.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree 50-Minute Class Periods, Plus time to carry out a service-learning project

The learner will:

  • read a scenario about a family in which both parents lose their jobs before the holidays.
  • write a personal reflection from the point of view of the parent who lost a job.
  • write a plan of action for finding employment after a layoff, including short-term and long-term plans.
  • explore a government website with up-to-date labor statistics.
  • find data and statistics that link education level with job stability and income.
  • translate data into ageneral statement.
  • propose a service-learning plan to promote education as a way to reduce unemployment.
  • Optional: the board game of Life
  • copy of Handout One: Student Scenario for each student
  • Internet access in a lab setting (if lab isn't available, see Day Two, bullets two and three to find charts to print out for student research)
  • printer
  • materials and tools for creating a piece of advocacy (poster, written piece, video presentation, or other technology)
Home Connection 

After Day Two, students complete their employment statistics research at home. Each student writes a summary statement based on the employment research about the value of staying in school and going on for post-high school education.


Scholastic. "Tech How To: Podcasts"

United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics.


  1. Day One

    Anticipatory Set:

    Say to the students, "I would like you to imagine you are the character I describe here." Read the following character sketch:

    You are married with a daughter who is five years old. You have a job, but your spouse has been laid off for six months. You are doing all right but are anxious for your spouse to either be called back or find another job. You and your spouse have both graduated from high school but did not attend college.

    Give the students a minute to imagine themselves in the above scenario. Then ask the following discussion questions to encourage reflection. Say, "If this were you: How would your life be different? What would your responsibilities be as a parent? As a spouse? What stresses might be added to your life with your spouse unemployed? How would the time of the year affect your life situation?"

  2. Give each student a copy of Handout One: Student Scenario. Remind them to imagine they are the person described above as they read the scenario on their own and write a reflection from the author's perspective.

  3. In the reflection, students try to imagine steps an unemployed person might take to get back to work.

  4. Collect the students' papers. Before the next class, read their responses to get an idea of how they problem-solve, what resources they are aware of, and their understanding of the situation.

  5. Day Two

    Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students to raise their hands if they have ever played the board game Life. For the students who raise their hands, ask them to recall the first decision you make as you enter the board (go to college or get a job). Ask students what they have found out about that decision as they play the game. (The college degree earns them more money in the long term.) Ask the class if this is true of real life. Optional: Bring in the game of Life and have students read the career choices (college and non-college options).

  6. Discuss different points of view related to education, income, and unemployment. Ask whether they think there is more stable employment for people who get a high school diploma than for people who drop out. Discuss whether they think people with a college degree have less unemployment than people who do not go to college. Let the students' personal views and observations guide the discussion.

  7. Tell the students that there is a website full of reports and statistics with facts about these issues. Describe the role of the US Department of Labor as the US Cabinet department responsible for occupational safety, wage standards, unemployment benefits, and economic statistics. Some states have Labor departments as well. Then connect to the Internet and display the monitor for all to see the website for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Show the students how to move around the site, do a search, explore statistics, and gather facts and data provided by the Department of Labor.

  8. In a lab setting, give students some time to explore the website and find relevant statistics related to employment, unemployment, income, and education level. A good start is to use the search box and input the phrase "link between education level and employment." Teacher Note: If you do not have access to the lab, print out for the students the charts available when you use this search term.

  9. Tell students to print out statistics, facts, charts, graphs, and other supporting data about the link between education level and income and unemployment. They may continue their research at home. They should bring all printouts to the next class.

  10. Homework: Tell students to write a summary statement based on the employment research about the value of staying in school and going on for post-high school education.

  11. Day Three

    Anticipatory Set:

    Have several students read aloud their summary statements from the research and homework on the previous day. Ask the students if they think everyone would stay in school at least through high school if they knew the statistics the class gathered. Ask the students if they think they can influence other people to stay in school. Discuss the benefits of advocating for further education--benefits to self, members of the community, and to society.(Define the term advocacy as writing, speaking,or acting in favor of someone or in support of something).

  12. Discuss possible service-learning projects they can do to encourage others to stay in school. Discuss a possible audience, message, and format (poster, letter, article for newspaper, blog, podcast, video presentation, other technology). Optional: Conduct a needs assessment by having students collect statistics about local education levels, dropout rates, income levels, and unemployment rate.

  13. Make a plan using the Action Plan and Planning Guide from Lesson One.

Cross Curriculum 

The learners use statistics about education level and employment to promote staying in school (dropout prevention or going to college). They determine their audience, objectives, and the best format for sharing the statistics and motivation.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Explain how economic systems encourage or discourage philanthropy and the civil society sector.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.