For Educators

Dishonesty – Procedures For Teachers

PrepPreparing for the lesson
StepsConducting the lesson
ExtensionAdditional Activities


Media Components

Computer Resources:

  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAMMacintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM

Bookmarked Sites and Video Resources:


Teachers will need the following supplies:

  • A chalkboard, dry-erase board, or flip chart
  • Chalk, dry-erase markers, or Sharpie markers
  • A screen on which to project video clips
  • Internet access (if the students cannot access the Internet from their classroom, then handouts of Web resources will suffice)
  • Student Organizers 1, 2, and 3


Introductory Activity

What Does It Mean to Be Honest?

Students might be very familiar with the word “honesty;” but do they know what it truly means to be honest?

In this activity, students recognize that honesty is a value that is important in many areas of their lives. It is important that students realize the benefits of being truthful whether they are at home, at school, or spending time with their peers, and the how dishonesty can lead to punishment or fractured relationships. However, students will also ask the difficult question whether honesty is always the right policy. And if dishonesty is acceptable sometimes, they will examine under what conditions that might be true.

  1. Ask the students to visit and read “Honest Pays” by Ron Kurtus.
  2. Ask the students to visit and read “Being Trustworthy Shows Character” by Ron Kurtus.
  3. After thestudents have explored these two Web sites, distribute Student Organizer 1.
  4. Ask the students to form groups of four and discuss the ways they can exercise honesty in every facet of their lives. They should consider honesty at home, in school, at part-time jobs, in friendships, in sports and other activities, and whenever they’re out in public. As they complete their discussion, they should record examples of how they can practice honesty in their Student Organizer.
  5. When the students have finished their discussion, ask volunteers from each group to share the examples they brainstormed. Record these examples on a flip chart, dry-erase board, or chalkboard.
  6. After the students have shared their examples, ask them the following questions and any others that you feel are relevant to the discussion:
    • On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy would it be to follow the examples of honesty you identified in this activity? Why are some harder than others?
    • Can you think of occasions when it might be easier to lie than to tell the truth? Is it justifiable to be dishonest simply because it is easier than being honest? Is dishonesty ever justifiable?
    • Do you think there should be repercussions to dishonesty? How do you think dishonesty should be addressed at home, at school, in relationships, and in other areas of your life?

Activity 1: Survey Says!

In this activity, students conduct a survey to determine some of the most prevalent reasons for dishonesty among their peers. They will gather information regarding opinions toward dishonesty, including lying to someone or cheating on an exam, and will ask their peers to consider whether dishonesty is excusable under any circumstances. When students have completed their survey, they will compile a report of their findings.

  1. Distribute Student Organizer 2 to the students.
  2. Explain to the students that they will survey seven to 10 of their peers to determine their experiences with and opinions about honesty and dishonesty. Review the questions that appear on Student Organizer 2. Tell the students that the organizer is intended to serve as a guideline as they complete their survey. Encourage them to add questions as they see fit.
  3. When the students have completed their survey, ask them to form groups of four and discuss, compare, and contrast their findings.
  4. Ask each group to compile a presentation that summarizes their findings and provides the following information:
    • What are the most common reasons for dishonesty among your peers?
    • How do your peers feel about dishonesty overall? Do they feel that it is wrong to be dishonest? Do they think it is acceptable? Or are they indifferent?
    • How do your peers feel about honesty overall? Do they feel that it is ever wrong to be honest? Is being honest sometimes unacceptable? Or are they indifferent?
    • Did any of your survey participants feel that dishonesty is sometimes excusable? Did any feel that honesty is sometimes inexcusable? If so, under what circumstances?
    • Identify the most common lie(s) that are told by your peers.
    • How many survey participants experienced a situation where someone was dishonest to them?
  5. When the groups have finished their presentations, they will present their findings to the rest of the class. As key points are discussed, record them on a flip chart, dry-erase board, or chalkboard. Elaborate on discussion points and ask questions as necessary.

Activity 2: Little White Lies

In this activity, students form a collaborative discussion regarding white lies, or trivial lies that are generally told with the intention of protecting someone or sparing their feelings. They will consider whether a lie is ever truly harmless and if all lies, including white lies, should be avoided entirely.

  1. Ask the students to visit and read the article titled, “There’s No Such Thing as a Little White Lie” by Carolyn Ray.
  2. Ask the students to visit and read the article titled, “Yes, Virginia, Little White Lies Are OK” by Kimberly Austin.
  3. Ask the students to visit
    and read the article titled, “Relating: Dealing with Little White Lies.”
  4. After the students have reviewed these articles, form a collaborative discussion regarding the acceptability, as well as the pros and cons, of little white lies. The discussion should cover the following points and any additional points you would like to address:
    • After reading these three articles, what are your feelings about little white lies? Do you think they are harmless? Why or why not?
    • While there were some similarities between the articles, each held a unique point of view toward the acceptability of white lies. Which article do you agree with most? Why?
    • After reading these articles, do you have a different opinion about white lies? How so?
    • Can you give an example of a white lie that you think is excusable?
    • Do you think that white lies qualify as dishonesty? Are they as bad as cheating on an exam or lying to hurt someone’s feelings? Why or why not?
  5. As you carry on this discussion, record key points on a flip chart, dry-erase board, or chalkboard. Ask questions and ask students to elaborate on their discussion points as necessary.

Culminating Activity/Assessment

In this activity, students discover that dishonesty holds serious consequences not only for young people but also for adults.

  1. Distribute Student Organizer 3 to the students.
  2. Explain to the students that they will interview a parent, an adult family member, a teacher, a neighbor, or another adult regarding dishonesty. The objective of this interview is to help the students understand that the consequences of dishonesty are not limited to young people. Adults are also held accountable, and sometimes face very serious punishment, for their actions.
  3. Review the interview questions that appear on Student Organizer 3. Encourage the students to add additional questions to this list as they see fit.
  4. After the students have completed their interviews, ask them to share their findings with you and the rest of the class. Form a collaborative discussion based on the following points and any additional points that you would like to discuss:
    • What type of dishonesty occurs among adults? How does this compare to dishonesty that occurs among young people?
    • If an adult engages in dishonest behavior at work, what consequences might he or she face?
    • If an adult behaves dishonestly in a marriage or other serious relationship, what might happen?
    • If an adult lied to you, or if you witnessed dishonest behavior from an adult, would you have a high opinion of him or her? Why or why not?
    • Now that you’ve examined the risks dishonesty holds for everyone, including adults, do you have a different opinion about the importance of honesty?
    • What are some of the lessons that adults want young people to learn about the risk of dishonesty and the value of honesty?
  5. As you complete this discussion, record key points on a flip chart, dry-erase board, or chalkboard. Address questions and elaborate on key discussion points as necessary.

Extension Activities:

  • In this activity, the students investigate the ways in which acts of academic dishonesty, such as plagiarism and cheating, are disciplined in their school. They will speak with their teachers, guidance counselors, vice principal, and/or principal to determine how students are punished for these activities and will consider whether the repercussions of academic dishonesty are fair or unreasonable. The students will then prepare a presentation that reveals their findings and their opinions. They should also make recommendations to a school administrator regarding the pluses and minuses of the current policy, and possible changes if they feel changes are needed.
  • Ask the students to poll their peers to determine how their religious beliefs discourage dishonesty. The students should ask their peers to discuss what they have learned from religion about the value of honesty and how they apply these lessons in daily life. When the students have completed their poll, they will compile a report that identifies the similarities and differences between religions regarding dishonesty, and the ways young people are influenced by their religious beliefs to be honest.
  • Ask the students to write a journal entry regarding a personal experience with dishonesty. They may write about a lie they told or about an experience where someone lied to or about them. The students should describe how this experience made them feel. If they lied, did they feel remorse or guilt? Did they ever come forward with the truth? If they were lied to, were their feelings hurt? Did the experience encourage them to be honest, or was their opinion of dishonesty unaffected?
  • Ask the students to complete a journal entry that describes a personal experience with truthfulness. They should describe the situation and discuss whether it was difficult to be honest. Did the experience encourage them to be honest more often? Were they proud of their decision to be honest?
  • Ask the students to create a quiz that allows their peers to gauge how honest they truly are. The quiz should consist of 10 to 20 multiple-choice questions that encourage their peers to consider how they would react in a variety of scenarios, including taking an exam they’re unprepared for, returning a found item to its rightful owner, and relaying the details of an awkward or difficult story to their parents.
  • Provide the students with a transcript of Perspectives: The Ethics of Lying (Episode 126:
    ). Then, ask them to form a collaborative discussion about honesty in the government. The students should discuss why it’s important for elected officials to be honest with the public, and they should consider whether it is ever excusable for the president or other members of the government to be dishonest.