Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Honest Communication
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


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


One 20-minute lesson


The learner will:

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


Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

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.


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.

Instructional Procedure(s):

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.)

  • 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.
  • Tell the students to pair up. Give them a list of statements and questions to read to each other. Tell them to take turns reading the 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.
  • Meet as a whole group. Discuss how facial expressions and body language and tone change meaning.
  • 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.

Lesson Developed By:

Betsy Flikkema
Associate Director
Learning to Give

Barbara Dillbeck
Learning to Give


Philanthropy Framework:

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