Six Pillars of Character Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Sometimes making ethical decisions can be tough. Simplify the process with this lesson plan to help you instruct students on the six pillars of character. A video lesson explains key concepts, which students will then apply to real-life and personal situations.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'ethics'
  • describe the process of making ethical decisions
  • explain the six pillars of character and explore how they apply to real-life situations


1 - 1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


Key Vocabulary

  • Ethics
  • Character
  • Six pillars of character
  • Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring
  • Citizenship

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Write the quote 'Each person must live their life as a model for others' on the board and give students five to ten minutes to reflect and journal their responses to it.
    • What does it mean to be a model?
    • What characteristics does someone who is a 'model' have?
    • Who is a model for the students? Why?
  • When they are finished journaling, break students into small groups and have them share their answers. What do they consider a model? What characteristics do these people have?
  • Ask students to guess who said this quote, then explain it was Rosa Parks. Ask:
    • Do you consider Parks a model? Why or why not?
  • Now ask students to consider the term 'ethical.' Start by having groups discuss the meaning of the term, then lead a class-wide discussion on the term.
    • What does it mean?
    • What actions are ethical?
    • What does it mean to be unethical?
  • Ask groups to choose one person they consider to have upstanding character and write the name of that person down for later.
  • Have students title their notebooks 'Six Pillars of Character' and make a two-column chart with the titles 'Character Trait' and 'Meaning.' They will then number six lines for the six pillars they'll learn about. Instruct students to take notes in this chart as the lesson video plays.

Direct Instruction

  • Start the video lesson Business Ethics: The Six Pillars of Character and pause at 1:06. How does the video's definition and explanation of ethics match the class discussion? Do students agree?
  • Restart the lesson video, pausing at the following times to review characters and definitions:
    • 2:00 - Trustworthiness
    • 2:57 - Respect and Responsibility
    • 3:40 - Fairness
    • 5:15 - Caring and Citizenship
  • After reviewing and defining these six pillars of character, ask groups to return to the person they choose as a model of character from the warm-up and write the name on a piece of chart paper.
  • Ask groups to go through the six pillars and decide if the person meets the criteria, writing each trait on the chart paper and reasoning the trait the person exhibits.
    • For example, if students chose Atticus Finch, is he trustworthy? What are some examples? How does he show trustworthiness?
  • As students prepare their charts, circulate the room to guide and support.
  • When finished, have each group share as classmates offer their feedback and opinions. Do they agree? Why or why not?
  • Post charts in the classroom, then play the remainder of the lesson.
  • Have groups take the quiz together, then review as a class.

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