Incarceration and the Bill of Rights


I’ve always enjoyed creating lessons. While they are difficult at times, there are few other feelings akin to creating something with the express purpose of educating others. While this lesson is no different, and I am excited to have it be used in classrooms, I still have some reservations. The chances of me seeing any other educator using this lesson is incredibly close to zero, and while this is not a major hang up I feel as the creator of this lesson that I should observe each of its uses in order to modify it.

This lesson is created for high school classes. While this lesson can be used in its own solo lesson, it would be much more effective if this lesson was part of a larger unit on either World War II or a unit that focuses on the Bill of Rights.

Note: While it is possible to do this as a stand-alone lesson, it would be much more efficient if paired with another lesson educating about Japanese Incarceration. As another note: the times given for note taking etc. are not hard set, change them to best fit your classroom.

Grade Level: High School

Overview: Students will focus on the Japanese incarceration and its constitutionality in terms of the United States of America’s Bill of Rights.

Goals: Students should be able to think critically as well as discuss and support a chosen point of view.

Standard: Core Standards

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.11-12.3 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.11-12.5 Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

Objectives: To better understand Japanese incarceration and the Bill of Rights.

Resources: Suitcase, writing utensils, Bill of Rights handout, blank paper.


  • Ask students if they have prior knowledge on the Japanese incarceration during World War II, if students have no knowledge of this event quickly go over the basics of what happened.
  • Pass out Bill of Rights worksheet and have students read through the sheet.
  • As students are reading the Bill of Rights, number them between one and three. Students numbered one will be debating that the Japanese incarceration WAS constitutional while the students numbered two will be arguing that it was NOT constitutional. Students numbered three will be the judges.
  • Give students ten minutes to construct an argument that defends their assigned side. Judges should be monitoring other two students making sure they are on task and creating arguments. Students should be writing down their notes and arguments on a blank sheet of paper.
  • Break the students into groups of three, making sure to have one student of each number in the group. Students will then, in five-minute turns, argue their viewpoint. In the next five-minute turn students will both defend their argument while attempting to undermine their opponents’ argument. At this time the teacher should be walking around taking notes on students’ activities.
  • Judges should be taking careful notes as to both of the debater’s arguments. At the end of the assigned time the judge should write down which debater they believe had a stronger argument and why they believe this person was right.

Formative Assessment: Students will turn in their completed notes on the Bill of Rights

Summative Assessment: Students will be required to write a short essay on the unit test arguing for one viewpoint or the other.

Bill of Rights photo from:

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