How to Teach Integrity Activities in High School

Smiling teacher standing in front of high school classroom.
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Challenge your students to do the right thing by exposing them to activities that dig deeper into the concept of integrity. The classroom presents many examples of ethical dilemmas that test students' integrity. Most students, for example, have considered an easy way around an assignment or test. Activities that raise consciousness of personal responsibility can help students become more aware of right and wrong choices. Emphasizing the importance of integrity communicates expectations for behavior.

1 Create a Top 10 List

Students will learn more about the importance of integrity if they have an opportunity to help define the concept and identify its purpose. Break students into small groups and ask them to brainstorm 10 ways that personal integrity makes a difference in the classroom. Bring the class back together and have groups share their results. Tell the class to work together to create a unified top 10 list. Facilitate a discussion about what happens when integrity is compromised in an academic classroom. Create a large banner with the results and post it in the front of the classroom.

2 Develop an Honor Code

Involve students in developing standards for classroom behavior that is rooted in integrity. Write questions on large sheets of paper that help students consider what it means to have academic integrity. Use questions about cheating, texting during tests, types of plagiarism and copying answers on study guides and exams. Have students write their responses to the questions and then read the results to the class. Ask the class to use the information to develop an honor code that outlines behavioral rules for the classroom. Post the honor code in the classroom and encourage students to help enforce the new rules.

3 Use Case Studies

Applying principles of integrity to real-life situations help students develop skills, learn strategies and develop a deeper of understanding of integrity. Break your class into small groups and provide varying scenarios that prompt discussion. Cover topics like unethical behavior in sports, the relationship between morality and character, dishonesty between friends or bullying. For example, describe a student who witnesses a friend being bullied. Have groups discuss how they would respond to the situation and share their results with the class for a broader discussion. Emphasize the idea that permitting something essentially means promoting it.

4 Create an Integrity Journal

Identifying unethical behavior and determining a better course of action helps students become more aware of how to practice integrity. Give students a notebook and ask them to write down the unethical behavior of others they observe in the course of a week. They should not identify individuals but rather give anonymous examples of anything they considered dishonest. Collect the journals and create a master list of examples. Share the list with the class and in advance, and select five examples to discuss further. Ask the class to discuss the implications of the behavior documented in the examples and offer ideas of how the situations could've been handled differently than they were. Finish the activity by having students determine what they can do to be more ethical in their own behavior.

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.