Nikkei Suitcase Lesson Plan – Legalities of the Incarceration

Reading evacuation orders on bulletin board at Maryknoll missionReading evacuation orders on bulletin board at Maryknoll mission

This project was really interesting to work on, because we had to take the images from the suitcase and then build lesson plans around them. We looked at the images to decide what point they were trying to make, and then we took those images and included them in our lesson plans. Making the lessons was a very educational experience, as I thought that it forced us to think more critically about the images – what does it say? How can a teacher use this? What would a elementary/middle/high school student take away from this image?

My lesson, titled Legalities of the Incarceration, is designed to be used with a travelling collection of artifacts from the Nikkei Legacy center. It is also intended to be used in a legal or government class or unit – for example, a unit on Japanese-Americans in World War II that concentrates on the legal question of incarceration, or a unit on the Bill of Rights with an examination of the Japanese-American incarceration as it relates to the Constitution, etc. I deliberately made this lesson extra-long, so that teachers can pick and choose what aspects they want to focus on in their classes. Continue scrolling down to find the lesson:

1. Identifying Information

Teacher: Location:
Class/Topic:   Social Studies/Japanese-American Incarceration Legal Study Time: 50 minutes
Grade Level: Middle School Date:

2. Overview:

This lesson is meant to be used as an overview of the legal aspects of the Japanese-American incarceration in concentration camps during World War II. The lesson can be used to introduce the history of the Japanese-American incarceration, or as a lesson meant to challenge students to think critically about the legal aspects of the incarceration. In this lesson, the students will be asked to think about the various legalities of interning people based on race and ethnicity, particularly how it relates to the incarceration of Japanese-Americans. This lesson is meant to complement a unit on either the Constitution/Bill Rights or World War II.

Note: Teachers, please use your discretion on what material you wish to cover. If your classroom is studying World War II, please feel free to just cover the vocabulary from WWII – make the lesson fit your needs!

3a. Goal:

Unit Goals:

  • TSW: develop an understanding of the Japanese-American incarceration.
  • TSW: be familiar with various legal terms (internment, incarceration, detain, lawsuit, civil rights, etc).
  • TSW: be familiar with the social, legal, and ethical arguments surrounding the Japanese-American incarceration.

Lesson Goals:

  • TSW: be familiar with the causes and effects of the Japanese incarceration.
  • TSW: be able to give definitions for the legal terms used in this unit.
  • TSW: describe the importance of the Japanese-American incarceration in its historical context.
  • TSW: describe the similarities and differences of the Japanese-American concentration camps to the concentration camps used by Nazi Germany.

More: Incarceration Lesson Download PDF version of the complete lesson (81kb)

Image credit: Library of Congress  LC-USF3301-013292-M2
Title: Los Angeles, California. Japanese-American evacuation from West Coast areas under U.S. Army war emergency order. Reading evacuation orders on bulletin board at Maryknoll mission
Creator(s): Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer
Date Created/Published: 1942 Apr.

Women’s Suffrage DBQ Reflection

Torch BearerIn our DBQ on women’s suffrage, we wanted the students to learn how image propaganda is used to make an argument or portray a side. Our generative questions were:

  1. What is the role of image media in the suffrage movement?
  2. How are pro-and anti-suffrage movements depicted in media?
  3. What are the biases that are found in image media?
  4. How are political, social, and economic factors portrayed in image media?

After doing this unit, the students should be able to look at a women’s suffrage image and answer the following questions (which connect back to the generative questions):

  1. What side is this image from? (Pro-suffrage or anti-suffrage?)
  2. What argument is the image making? How do you know?
  3. What does this image say about the society at the time this image was printed?

Making the DBQ was a challenging assignment, mainly because we needed to find the best images that represented exactly the argument that we wanted. One of the problems was that, because there are so many images from the suffrage movement, there are often images that have different pictures but that make the same argument. We tried to be careful to choose images that did not just show a repeat of an argument, but that depicted a new suffrage position.

Our final project met all of the generative goals and objectives quite well. Each image asks the students to make a decision on the image’s argument and back up their answer with evidence, or it asks the students to compare the images to make a decision on how society had changed between the picture publications. The final DBQ is a great tool that can be used in conjunction with a social studies or communications class that is studying the suffrage movement in the United States. It can be found on the website Learnist, and soon in an iBook.

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

Lesson Plan Reflection

Well, apparently “preview post” = crash the computer…so here this goes, for the second time.

I did not see the benefit of the lesson plan outline before class. Even though I had done the outline, it felt like I was just putting into words the ideas that I had already thought about while making my lesson plan. Maybe it was different for me, because I had already given my lesson so I knew how it went over with the students, and I knew how all of the goals were met during the lesson. However, during the peer partner/share time, I found myself needing to explain in better detail parts of my lesson plan – what had seemed clear to me were not as clear to other people. I also noticed that the peer share was really beneficial, as it gave me a chance to bounce ideas off another person, and to hear their ideas for a similar lesson and a similar class. I think that, for next time, I’ll try to use a lesson plan that I’ll be giving in the future, so that the outcomes are not as definite and there is a better place for peer feedback.

My one suggestion for the lesson plan outlines is to shorten the classroom share aspect. It seemed a bit too long, especially because a lot of the components were the same or very similar. I’d like to try the “speed dating” share, so we all get to hear about each others’ lessons, but we are all keeping actively busy throughout the time. Then, if there are a couple really really really good lesson plans (new technique, challenging unit, etc.), have just those 2-3 people present their lesson to the class. I think that that would cut down on repeated information, but it’s just a suggestion.