Manipulating Literature to Teach History: A Reflection


For my DBQ, I chose the topic of Anne Frank. Her story has reached so many people, young and old. In my opinion, it is a story of youth, resilience, and re-imagining the world for the better. I think that I chose this because I was curious to see how the diary could be used as a primary source material in place of a piece of literature. I look forward to adapting it for a lesson.

It became difficult to find corresponding images for her diary entries that gave students enough information to consider the questions. I found that attaching some sort of outside historical source would perhaps be more helpful. I look forward to finishing our iBook.

One of things that I learned while creating this DBQ is making sure the purpose for students is clearly defined. There are times when we teach that that bright light shines down from above to us teachers in the middle of a lesson and, suddenly, we get a marvelous idea. Then, there are times that we kick ourselves for not planning or reflecting more before the lesson takes place. Knowing your purpose ahead of time may lead to more marvelous ideas; therefore, more fun and excitement for students while learning.

This DBQ is intended for students to be able to use this set of images, concepts, and questions in addition to a Holocaust study or, perhaps, a The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank. It should be used as a supplement resource to any social studies classroom.

This DBQ is part of our class-produced multi-touch iBook. Available free at iTunes.

Image Source

Nikkei Legacy Center – The Japanese-American Incarceration: Was it Constitutional?

For the Museum in a Suitcase project for the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, I wanted to create a lesson plan that encompassed the cultural experience during the time of Pearl Harbor and Incarceration of Japanese-Americans as well as discussing the question of whether it was Constitutional or not. It is a unique story that lends itself well to the study of marginalized communities throughout American History. This lesson is adapted primarily from OPB’s The Fillmore Neighborhoods and Japanese-American Internment Lesson. The following lesson plan can be utilized in any social studies classroom studying the Constitution for a lively role-play or those American Studies classrooms investigating what really happened to the Japanese-Americans after the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Enjoy!

For a PDF of the whole lesson plan, click here (File size 161 KB).
Japanese Ancestry Internment Order

Overview of the Japanese-American Incarceration Experience: What would it feel like to have family and friends rounded up and ‘deported’ because of their race? In this lesson, students will gain a sense of what the experience may have been like for Japanese-Americans from Portland, Oregon’s Japantown during World War II. This lesson would fit it reasonably well with students who have already studied WWII, the bombing at Pearl Harbor, and constitutional history.

Goal: To analyze the Japanese-American experience of leaving their homes for years of incarceration. To observe and analyze the photographs and newspaper articles that describe this experience. To interpret the incarceration policy as constitutional or not.


  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.8 Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.



  1. Students will be able to analyze photographs and newspaper clippings from the time period in which Japanese-Americans were incarcerated.
  2. Students will be able to write a reflection that explains the experience of these Americans making connections from prior knowledge, experience, images analyzed.
  3. Students will be able to interpret the U.S. Constitution to uphold or reject the incarceration policy; discuss the constitutional issues in conflict during this time (habeas corpus, treason, equality before the law, citizen rights, search and seizure).

Time: Approximately 2 hours

A Reflective Lesson

This week, our class focused on creating a ‘lesson study.’ Each lesson was supposed to relate to a possible topic that we might be teaching in the near future. After meeting with a partner that had a similar topic, we discussed strengths and weaknesses of the potential lessons. Everyone seemed to have put a lot of thought into the general idea of their lesson which spawned a great classroom discussion.

Throughout the discussion process, I took so many notes about awesome future projects that I could tweak to meet my class’s needs. For example, I really like the idea of Levels of Questioning which gets students involved in creating their content objectives. (Level 1- basic content such as who, what, when; Level 2- How or why questions; Level 3- the generative question or “In your opinion…” question that asks students to reason and provide evidence.) Another idea that I want to think more about for American history was the Mock Congress idea. It seems daunting to deal with those logistics but that’s what colleagues are for!


Image from Mr. Volk’s Mad Science Website at Drake Middle School

This class is full of awesome ideas as well as some great future social studies teachers. I feel confident in others’ opinions and advice. Everyone is so willing to listen and contribute to the conversation. In terms of this last assignment, my partner definitely helped me think about some futures issues with my lesson study but, at the same time, delivered constructive criticism.

Overall, this project let me think about the more important components of putting together a lesson. I think this assignment worked well so that the class could generate new thoughts and ideas about what is necessary for student learning. I look forward to doing this when we have actual lesson plans to come up with.