Honest Communication

6, 7, 8

In this lesson, students learn about communicating honestly. They explore different ways communication can be changed through interpretation and intentionally misleading.

Lesson Rating 
One 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • define eschew and obfuscation.
  • brainstorm andidentify ways to be honest or dishonest in verbal communication.

copy of the list of six statements (See Teacher Preparation) on the board or on a handout

Teacher Preparation 

Before class, write the following six statements/questions on the board:

  1. Don't you love those dandelions?
  2. Are you ready yet?
  3. What are you doing?
  4. We were gone for three hours.
  5. The pencil was on my desk.
  6. It is my turn to do that.


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Tell the students that your goal for them in their writing and all communication is that they eschew obfuscation. Ask them what they think of that goal. Most students will not understand the phrase. Tell them the phrase eschew obfuscation means "to avoid purposely concealing the meaning of the communication." (Eschew means "to avoid"; obfuscation is "making meaning unclear.") (This is an example of irony because the phrase itself is an example of obfuscation.)

  2. Ask the students to brainstorm what it means to be honest in communication. Make sure their definitions include being straightforward, telling the truth, giving complete information, showing intent to be understood, and being sincere. Honesty in communication means that in writing and in speech and other nonverbal communication, you are straightforward in expressing the truth without misleading.

  3. Tell the students to pair up. Give them a list of statementsand questions to read to each other. Tell them totake turns readingthe statements in different ways in order to communicate different meanings. They may use tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, and other means to change the meaning, intent, or sincerity of the sentences. Give the students five minutes to experiment with this.

    1. Don't you love those dandelions?
    2. Are you ready yet?
    3. What are you doing?
    4. We were gone for three hours.
    5. The pencil was on my desk.
    6. It is my turn to do that.
  4. Meet as a whole group. Discuss how facial expressions and body language and tone change meaning.

  5. Review obfuscation. Ask what can make the meaning unclear when they are communicating verbally. Lead students to recognize that tone might not match body language and make meaning unclear. Ask students what they can do to make their meaning clear and honest when communicating with others.

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.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.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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