AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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All Grades

  • Encourage your students to enter the Valentine’s Day Card contest.
  • Ask your students to recommend a book, poem, lyric, movie, painting, etc. that they feel illustrates honesty and explain why they recommended it.
  • Have students keep a journal to reflect on what they think honesty is, what they learned about honesty in their class and whether their original thinking changed and in what way.
  • Profile those who give back. After learning about honesty, have students work in small groups or independently to nominate someone that they believe is honest and share their story with the class.
  • Partner different classes where older students can mentor younger students. Older students will have an opportunity to model the values and behaviors they've learned and younger students will have an opportunity to experience the values firsthand.

Early Elementary School

  • Share the story The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf and ask students what the moral of the story is. What do they think of the statement: "There is no believing a liar even when he speaks the truth"? Ask them to provide examples to help illustrate their thinking.
  • Read The Emperor's New Clothes and ask your students: why do you think everyone was afraid to tell the emperor that they couldn’t see the clothes? What message do you get from this story?
  • Read an excerpt from Pinocchio to your students. Ask them the moral of the reading. Ask: If we are dishonest or lie, does our nose grow? What does happen to us?
  • Introduce students to key historical figures or heroes who worked to improve the lives of those living in poverty or who didn’t have the same opportunities as others (Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Abraham Lincoln). Have students think about heroes they know and why they are a hero.

Late Elementary to Middle School

  • Have students read an excerpt from The Life of George Washington . What do you think of Pa's reaction to what George told him about the cherry tree? Do you agree with his reaction? Why or why not?
  • Have students look for unsung or lesser-known heroes (historical and contemporary) who helped better lives of others. Students will share their hero and why they selected him/her.

Middle to High School

  • Using the well-known puzzle The Island of Knights and Knaves , have students try to answer the riddle about who is the knight (the honest person), and who is the knave (the dishonest person). Numerous versions of this puzzle can also be found through a simple search on the Internet.
  • Revisit the childhood story The Emperor's New Clothes and ask students to find historical examples where groups of individuals have not been honest due to peer pressure or a feeling of insecurity. Ask students if they think there is a way to eliminate such a phenomenon. How?
  • Have students read the Ann Landers column from a high school student and the account from Elena Balovlenkov. Both stories offer different aspects of truth and dishonesty. Ask students to discuss in pairs or small groups the difference between the dishonesty that disturbs the student in the column and the "necessary lie" described in the article about Balovlenkov.
  • Introduce students to key events and activists who have fought to improve living conditions across the country. Events/activists could include: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, the role of labor unions.

High School

  • Read Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons. Ask students to reflect on the following quote from Sir Thomas:

    "If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make up saintly. And we’d live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice, and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all…why then perhaps we must stand fast a little—even at the risk of being heroes."

    What does the quote mean? What implications does it have for their daily lives?