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Integrity and the Power of Words

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School Social Studies, Language Arts, Leadership

One Class Session

Students will:

  • explain the importance of integrity in reporting and the danger of rumors and misinformation
  • explore the process of verifying sources

Medal of Honor Focus: Charles Hagemeister, U.S. Army, Vietnam War

Introduction Activity:
The teacher will have several students line up and play the “Telephone Game.” The teacher will whisper a three to four sentence story into the ear of the first student. That story is then whispered to the next student, continuing down the line until the last student receives the message. Once the last student has the message, he or she will recite the story for the class. The teacher will then compare what the student said to the original story and discuss what happened during the process of the game and how misinformation is disseminated in this example and in real life.

Whole Group Activity:
The teacher will pass out the activity sheet and then show Charles Hagemeister’s video for the class. After watching the video, students will answer questions 1-4 on the activity sheet. The teacher will lead a discussion on the responses the students provide, being sure to point out what rumors, misinformation, and lies can cause.

Small Group/Individual Activity:
The teacher will give students Handout 1 and Handout 2. Students will answer questions 5-7 on the activity sheet using those handouts. The teacher will make sure the students find and locate the discrepancy between Citation 1 and Citation 2 (Hagemeister killed in action). The teacher will then point out that Handout 2 is the official paperwork from the recommendation packet. Specifically, this document is the one in which General Westmoreland corrects the error that Charles Hagemeister was killed in action.

Concluding Activity:
Students answer the Final Question. The teacher leads a discussion with the class about the power of words have in our social media, news, and relationships.


Worksheet, handouts, Charles Hagemeister Living History video

Extended Activity:
The teachers will direct students to explore and discuss various media outlets regarding fake news and on-line bullying.

Living History Video

Portrait of Valor - Charles Hagemeister

Additional Resources