What Is Honesty?

6, 7, 8

Learners dissect the trait of honesty by describing what it feels and looks like, defining it, and giving examples and nonexamples.

Lesson Rating 
One 20-minute class period

The learner will:

  • define honesty from the dictionary and give examples and synonyms.
  • reflect on the value of honesty.
  • chart paper for brainstorming (save for next lesson)
  • copy of Attachment One: Honesty Dissection for each group of four
Home Connection 

Students ask family members why it is important to them (and the community) that people are honest.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Have a student recall the dictionary definition of honesty from the previous lesson (fairness and straightforwardness in conduct). Have the students rate on a scale of one to five how honest they feel different people or institutions are. Tell them you are going to name some people orgroupsand they are to rate their perceived honesty by holding up one to five fingers. Tell themto hold upfive fingers ifthey think someone is extremely honest and one finger if they are not honest at all. They can hold up two, three, or four fingers to show levels of honesty.
    Teacher may choose from the following people and institutions for students to rate: How honest do you think your best friend is? [students hold up one to five fingers] How honest do you think your teachers are? Middle school students in general? A major corporation, such as BP? Your parents? The local weather reporter? Politicians in general?

  2. Move the students into groups of four. Each group discusses and brainstorms what it means to be honest. Give the groups five to ten minutes to describe what honesty sounds like, looks like, and feels like. They will come up with examples and nonexamples of honest behavior and words that describe a straightforward honest person (a person of honor). Have each group select a representative who will report the group's discussion to the rest of the class. Use Attachment One: Honesty Dissection to guide the brainstorming.

  3. Have each group report to the whole class the examples and descriptions of honesty. Keep a list on a chart of key words and descriptions from the group discussions (reliable, integrity, trustworthy, good reputation, not deceiving, doing the right thing, doing what you say you'll do, keeping promises, etc.). Add to the chart over thenext three class periods.

  4. Tell the students that in the next class period, they will explore ways the trait of honesty has value to self and community. Encourage them to think about this and discuss with their families, asking the question, "Why is it important to you that people are honest?"

Cross Curriculum 

This character education mini-lesson is not intended to be a service learning lesson or to meet the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. The character education units will be most effective when taught in conjunction with a student-designed service project that provides a real world setting in which students can develop and practice good character and leadership skills. For ideas and suggestions for organizing service events go to generationon.org.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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