Choices and Achieving Goals

Career Education - Grade 10

This unit of inquiry is not a recipe book but rather a launchpad to inspire new BIG IDEAS. We encourage you to use and/or modify one, or several of the BIG IDEAS below. Adapt it to the grade/ ability level of your students.


Enduring Understandings

Proactive decision making aids in achieving life goals.


Guiding Questions

How do the values that we hold influence our decisions? How does our diverse community influence our values?


Mind Opening

Choose or devise practices to encourage students to be open to new experiences and ways of thinking in your classroom. For example, the MindUP in-school program.


Discovery and Inspiration:

Launch the Project

Introduce the Theme: Present the Enduring Understanding and Guiding Questions using vocabulary that is appropriate for your grade level.

About Vancouver Biennale: Play a short video.

Create Project Space: Brainstorm ideas to make the project theme visual and visible using bulletin boards, and/or a project corner to share relevant materials and inquiry questions and processes.

Reference Resources:

  Introduction to Sculpture and Public Art Unit Plan for information on how art has evolved over time and the unique experience sculptures and/or public art brings.

Vancouver Biennale 2014-2016 Exhibition Theme: Open Borders / Crossroads Vancouver

  Hold That Thought (Kelly Mark, Canada) from Vancouver Biennale 2009 – 2011 Exhibition

•  What if Money Didn’t Matter – Narration by Alan Watts video


Learning to Learn:

Art Inquiry

Project images of Hold that Thought and encourage students to freely explore and interact with the art pieces individually and in groups. This Art Inquiry process enables the students to practice observing, describing, interpreting, and sharing visual information and personal experiences. Use the Art Inquiry Worksheet to guide and capture their ideas and impressions. Customize or create your own Art Inquiry Worksheet as appropriate for your project and class needs.

Imagine encountering this New Media installation at a street intersection, will it encourage the viewers to pause or just keep on going? Relate the experience to a junction in life where important decisions need to be made.


Shared Insights

Sharing Art Inquiry Experience: Ask students to share the Art Inquiry Worksheet responses in class.

Artist Themes – Research: In small groups students rotate between information stations detailing the artist’s life and work. Station topics include: (1) education and training; (2) lifetime of artwork; (2) materials and processes; (3) beliefs and values. At each station, students answer questions and complete a task. For example, at the station “life’s work” students might plot the artist’s various installations on a map of the world.

Artist Themes – Making Decisions: Have students contemplate Hold That Thought. Is this art? What makes this statement provocative? Are there other work by Kelly Mark that has a similar theme? Have the students read the guiding question and review their ‘thought’ throughout the project, making a decision regarding the above questions. Introduce different decision making styles: inactive, reactive, and proactive. Ask students to reflect on their personal decision making styles.

• Group Video Discussion: Watch Alan Watt’s narration on What if money didn’t matter? video. Have students break off into smaller groups to discuss their thoughts and/or emotions towards what they just witnessed and heard on the video. Have students come back together as a class and engage in class discussions on some of the topics they talked about in their smaller groups.


Inquiry Challenges

• Job Inquiry: Ask students which professions they would choose if money and wages were not a factor given their current state of passion towards any given field. How do their current passions in life factor into their decision making, and all the things they’ve been told they can’t do due to the lack of monetary value gained. What borders (skill development, language, space, psychological) need to be crossed in order to succeed at the chosen field? What borders do new arrivals to Vancouver need to cross in order to succeed in their chosen field?

• Tracking one’s own thought pattern: Ask students to track and write down their thoughts when they encounter a situation during the day, when their own thoughts prevents them from completing an activity due to self-confidence or any external factors confirming their inabilities.

Example: Use an app on the phone to track these negative thought patterns, or use a visible clue and give oneself a check mark on their arm with a pen every time they feel as though they lack ability to complete a task.

• The story of practice: Ask students to research how many hours their favorite celebrity, athlete, or someone they look up to had to work/practice in order for them to reach ‘success’ in their profession (e.g. Gladwell’s 10,000hr rule).


Student Creations and Taking Action

Ask students to communicate their story through a chosen medium – poetry, spoken word, visual art, dance. Students may present to their class, a career fair or younger classes. Visual art may be exhibited in the Career Centre or cafeteria to share the message to peers.

Have students interview adults and ask questions that dive into the roots of their choice of profession. This will open up the students’ minds on different professions and stories of real people, the challenges and what sustains their passions, and what role money plays in their decision to pursue and continue with their current career.



• Teacher and students can reflect on their entire learning process by revisiting the Enduring Understanding and relevant Guiding Questions.

• How did the unit of study open inquiry, create cross–curricular learning opportunities and/or apply learning to real life situations? Has this unit of inquiry changed your opinions, values and world view? In what ways, if any, has it helped you grow as a learner?


Ideas for Cross-Curricular Access

• Arts Education: Ask students to convey an interpretation of money, lifestyle and passion through an artistic creation, using recycled material found in their household (as a reflection of lifestyle and consumerism) to create artwork that represents the effect of money on art and how art is influenced by money and passion.

• Language Arts: Have students focus on at least three different passions they currently enjoy in their lives, and have them write a timeline or a list of objectives they need to complete in order for them to further their passions into a career.

Have students research the biography of an individual who has excelled due to their dedication to their passion. Write a paper on the characteristics of these individuals and how did they acquire them over the years that brought them to their success.

• Social Studies: Ask students to continue research of notable individuals in history who had advanced their skills through practice, performing, and motivation, including Canadian who followed their passion to success.


Written by: Frank Lo, 2013 UBC Secondary School Teacher Candidate

Edited by: Jennifer Massoud, Secondary School Teacher

©2013 Vancouver Biennale