Illustrative Examples of Units of Practice

Virtually in Business


Some of our high school students think about having their own small business; however, most have not considered the practicality of doing so. In this unit, students will use data found online to create charts and graphs in a spreadsheet to support starting a fictional small business in a community of their choice. They will be able to see if their choices of business and community make sense and, if not, change one of them. In Canada, this can be done in English or French with the use of the Statistics Canada site.

Subjects:                 Math, Social Studies, Career/Technology

Learning Levels:    Grades 10-12

Author(s):               Donna Brunton



Have a great idea for a small business? Want to know where it makes sense to locate it? Don't just pick a business and locate it in cyberspace. This unit will direct the student to find the data to back up her choice of business and a community where it is likely to be successful.

Mathematics 6-8

Mathematics 9-12



This unit requires access to the Internet in a computer lab or in a classroom, as well as a word processor, a spreadsheet and possibly Power Point. (The graphs can also be done on graph paper). It is useful to have covered the use of the spreadsheet to create graphs/charts before starting this unit.

Students can do this exercise individually or in pairs depending on computer access and your numbers. The whole unit takes 4 to 6 hours with the use of a computer lab and one student per computer. It could take longer with shared computers, depending on the detail you want and how much time you spend on the discussion in task# 1.

If whole class, simultaneous access is not available, you might alternate the computer reliant tasks with


1. Before I start this unit, I have the students think about a type of small business that would be of interest to them, and to select a community where they might like to have this business. Since I use this activity as a lead-in to creating a web page, I ask them to consider clip art and other resources we have looked at that they might be able to use without copyright infringement.

2. Begin with a class discussion to identify the types of information one might need to consider before starting a business in a community. For example:

I ask for suggestions of businesses to create and have the students brainstorm to come up with factors to consider when creating the business. I find student are usually inventive. These factors are written on the board or on chart paper for ongoing reference. Remember (and remind the class) that each type of business could have a different set of requirements.  

3. Next I direct students to sources of business and community data on the Internet. I use the Statistics Canada site and show them several of the options there.

4. I pick a community and “walk” them through an example of finding information about that community in the various parts of the StatsCan site. I also print out all the graphs I make in this process and put them up in the room to remind the students of the types of information they can find and the kinds of formatting required.  

5. After that, the students are sent to find the data they need to prove that their location and business are viable. Some students will choose a business and find a suitable location. Others will pick the location and think up a business that fits there. Some students may need some help to come up with a reasonable business. I have them use small businesses so that more communities will be reasonable locations. (I do this in Nova Scotia, Canada and we do not have many large centres).  

6. Their next task is to search the data and create at least 2 graphs/charts using a spreadsheet of that data which supports their choices (This could be done on paper). I also encourage students to find a map to show the location of the chosen community and to support the identification of community factors, which will help to ensure business success.  

7. These graphs and the map are to be saved in the spreadsheet for further use in a word document and as jpgs for a Power Point presentation or web page. My rationale for this exercise is to begin the process of teaching how to create a web page. Each student creates a web page for a fictional business. One page of their web page uses the graphs and map.

8. Each student is to write a brief description of the business and state its location in a word document. This must also include the graphs (and map) and statements of how the graphs support the choices. The URL(s) of the pages where they found the information must also be given. Alternately, the information could be presented using Power Point.


This activity involves whole class presentation as well as individual work or working in pairs. A pathway through the data site or specific URLs needs to be provided for the students. A pathway could be placed on the board or URLs made available electronically.


Consider the following in assessing the finished product:



This unit could also be done in French since the Statistics Canada site ( has both and an English and a French branch.

The StatCan site (see address below) has many places to find useful information for this assignment. From the site’s introductory page choose Learning Resources and then Students.

There are 3 places where you can go from here.



If you want to see population pyramids for Canada, see these pages: