Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Cost of Life

Thomas Lucey


An adult needs to budget expenses. At some point, one must choose a career and determine the expenses one can manage. This lesson affords students an opportunity to discuss and discover the conditions and characteristics of different career choices.


The student constructs and interprets displays of data, (including circle, line, bar, and box-and-whisker graphs) and explains how different displays of data can lead to different interpretations.


-Sunday edition newspapers from metropolitan areas (See step 11 in procedures)
-Internet Browser
-Computer paper
-Notebook paper
-Think Sheet (see Associated File)


Prepare a resource center containing classified ads for employment.
Have computer lab organized
Prepare an overhead which may be used for graphing.
Download the Think Sheet from the associated file and make a copy for each student.


1.For this lesson, the students will choose a career and lifestyle. For example, the students will brain storm the idea: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Then the students will use the Internet to research incomes for their selected career. They will then graph their findings as a basis for discussing their search results

2.Review the need to manage money efficiently. Inform the students that the amount of money they may safely spend depends on their income levels.

3.Brainstorm with the class solutions to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up and what lifestyle will you have (e.g. house or apartment, car or truck)”

4.Separate the students into pairs. Each pair will decide who will be the secretary and who will be the computer operator

5. Instruct students to search for the following items on the internet:

a. Using the Internet, find incomes for two chosen careers

b. Using the Internet, find the qualifications one must have for those careers.

6. First team pair (or team of two) has 20 minutes at the computer.

7. Second team will be involved in the rotating activity. (see step 11)

8. The class should come back together and share their information as the teacher demonstrates putting the information into a bar graph. After completing this activity, the class should discuss why a bar graph might be a good way to show and compare the information about salaries.

9. The class will repeat step eight putting information into a line graph and following the same discussion. Check to make sure all students have correctly created the line graph before proceeding to the Think Sheet.

10. Every student will work on his or her respective think sheet.

Rotating Activity:

11. Students look at classified advertisements contained in the Sunday edition of a nearby major metropolitan newspaper and find and compare the incomes for the same positions which they researched online.

This lesson also meets the following national and Tennessee Standards:

National Council for Teachers of Mathematics

Problem Solving Standard for Grades 6–8
· Build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving;
· Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts;
· Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems;
· Monitor and reflect on the process of mathematical problem solving.

Connections Standard for Grades 6–8
· Recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas;
· Understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another to produce a coherent whole;
· Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics.

Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy
Income Standards
· 4-1. People can get income by earning wages and salaries or by receiving money gifts
·· 8-5. Generally, people earn higher incomes with higher levels of education.

Memphis City Schools:

· Mathematics Standard #3: Students should be able to use mathematical reasoning to analyze and answer theoretical and real-world questions and problems.

· Mathematics Standard #4: Students should be able to make connections between mathematics and their daily lives to answer questions, solve problems, and complete authentic projects.

· Mathematics Standard #5:Students should be able to use appropriate technology to solve problems and to communicate ideas and solutions.


Note: This lesson addresses only part of the standard. Students do not construct circle graphs or bar and whisker graphs.
Assess students' ability to create the graphs. This is a formative assessment since creating the graphs correctly is necessary for the next part of the assessment. Students should receive feedback sufficient for the correct creation of the graphs.
Students write a paragraph discussing the appropriateness of the type of graph to be used when visually comparing salaries.

The following assessment checklist may be used for this lesson.

____Discovered Income allowances via web search

___Created graphs

____Analyzed data with graphs

____ Composition demonstrated understanding of different types of graphs and their appropriateness to this activity.

Web Links

Web supplement for The Cost of Life
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2000-01 Edition

Attached Files

The Think Sheet.     File Extension: pdf

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