Assuming Responsibility

6, 7, 8

Students create the definition of responsibility from their experience and gain insight into ways that 6th graders are responsible.

PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • define responsibility from a brainstormed list of ideas/adjectives.
  • examine his or her responsibilities through the lenses of assigned, assumed, automatic and reminded.
  • draw conclusions about sixth graders and responsibility.

Flip chart or board


  1. Teacher Note: Before class, create a table with four columns on the board or a flip chart with these headers: Assigned, Assumed, Automatic, and Reminded. This chart will be used in the second activity in this lesson, and the generated lists will be used as a reference in Day Two.

    Anticipatory Set:

    Say, "You've heard your mother, your grandmother, your dad, your aunt, your teacher, and/or your coach remind you of 'your responsibility!' What do we mean by that word responsibility?" Ask students to brainstorm their ideas of the definition of responsibility. Allow 2 minutes.

  2. Review the students' ideas. Underline the words that appear multiple times. Invite the students to determine which words are the most important words. Circle them. Given those words, work together to create a definition of responsibility (e.g., following tasks to completion and being dependable for doing what you say you will do). Allow 10 minutes

  3. Ask students to think about their current responsibilities. Tell them to keep these responsibilities in mind as you ask students the following questions:

    • In your life, have most of your responsibilities been assigned to you? Yes (show of hands) No (show of hands). Let's hear 2-3 examples of those responsibilities. (Write these examples under Assigned on the prepared chart.)
    • In your life, have you taken on a responsibility without being told? Yes (show of hands) No (show of hands). Let's hear 2-3 examples of these. (Write these examples under Assumed on the prepared chart.)
    • In your life, do you always follow through on your responsibilities without being reminded? Yes (show of hands) No (show of hands). Let's hear 2-3 three examples of following through. (Write these examples under Automatic on the prepared chart.)
  4. In the fourth column, have students give examples of responsibilities about which they always need reminding. (List 2-3 examples.)

  5. Lead a discussion about what types of responsibilities are always followed, never followed, or need reminders. Ask the students what role interest, fun, or payback play in taking responsibility.

  6. Teacher: By looking at these columns, what can we learn about 6th graders and responsibility? (Interested = do; less interested = maybe; somethings = always need reminding.) Allow 3 minutes. (Students may recognize a trend that sixth graders often wait until they are reminded to take responsibility or take personal responsibility only if they are very interested in the outcome. They may discuss how they feel about that observation.)

  7. Save the chart for the next lesson.

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

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.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.