Monday, December 16, 2013

How To Teach Integrity??

When I started this career, I knew certain character traits would be more difficult to teach than others. How to Respect others, taking care of our Responsibilities, and Caring for others were some I knew would be easy. 

But Harmony- yea that one was harder. 

Excellence- hard to teach how to be Excellent.

But our Character Trait this month is Integrity- and one of the more difficult concepts to teach. It's really hard for students to understand the concept of doing the right thing for no specific reason other than it's the right thing to do. Why should I "do the right thing even when no one is looking". They can spout it off verbatim but do they really live it? It took a lot of searching but I found some awesome activities to use. Plus, since our district just finished with Math and Science Nights, I made my activities focus on Integrity through a science viewpoint... And two of my favorites (so far) are these:

My First graders got to read The Empty Pot by Demi. 
An AWESOME book that teaches the importance of telling the truth and doing the right thing even when no one else is.
After discussing key concepts from the book, students wrote a sentence about Integrity on a napkin, folded it and placed it in a small Ziploc. The kids then got to place a magic seed (a Pinto Bean) in their bag and we watered it. We talked about how the Integrity washes off the napkin and onto the bean and the kids get to watch other the next few days the bean sprout roots (and how we all grow with Integrity)! The kids love doing it and they think it's cool how the seeds germinate almost overnight!

Next, our Third Graders learned that when we do the right thing (even if no one is directly impacted), it changes the atmosphere, the composition, and the makeup of the entire school. We read The Principal's New Clothes by Stephanie Calmenson.

It's a funny school-related take on The Emperor's New Clothes and it's an older book but for some reason my Third Graders really like it. We talk about how the entire school learns to do the right thing no matter who sees or what others think. But then we talk about Invisible Cloth... and Invisible Ink. :)

"But Mr. Allen, there's no such thing!"

Oh yea?! Well I love science. So here's what we do. I give them all a piece of paper, have them write their name on it, and then flip it over to the blank side. Every student then gets a new writing tool...
Wax makes an awesome writing medium... :) EWWW
Students get so defensive that it's not a writing tool. So I ask for an example of a writing tool... and I get "a pencil!"

I ask them what a pencil is made of and they respond "wood". But does it write with the wood or need something else. Well duh, it needs something else- The lead graphite! So then they all get a small cup of liquid to write with (much like our Forefathers used quills and ink, my students used Q-Tips and an acidic liquid- either lemon juice, orange juice, or vinegar... whichever I have in my house).

I then ask them to dip their Q-Tip and write on their paper HOW they show Integrity in school (a specific example). And slowly students realize they can't se what's written. Neither can I. Neither can their neighbors. Neither can their teachers.
Their papers done and dried "blank"
However, we show Integrity everyday EVEN IF NO ONE CAN SEE IT! Why? Because it's still there and it still affects other students, teachers, parents, etc. And sometimes, a little change can reveal that Integrity and can show how much we care about others.

I take the papers home that night and place them four-at-a-time in my oven set to Low Broil.

And something amazing happens...

The writing burns quicker (because of the acid) and their little acts of Integrity show through!

The next day I hang them in the hall so EVERYONE can see how Third Grade is showing Integrity (even if they THINK no one can see!)

Science meets Counseling! New twist on an old concept. Gets them thinking and engaged. I LOVE IT!



  1. I ADORE this intervention!!!! I follow you on instagram (kat5886), and I am SO glad that I found your blog through insta...I was having such a hard time coming up with a way to teach this! So fantastic! Thanks for a fun and creative idea!!

  2. Thanks! I love finding new ways to teach older topics and it really gets the kids thinking. Thanks for the comment. I've followed you on Instagram too. I love how Social Media has linked together so many School Counselors!

  3. Do you recommend a certain type of paper? Regular printer paper or construction paper?

  4. Hi! The invisible ink is great. "Low Broil"- what temp might that be? Thanks