A Teacher’s Journey to Increasing Student Knowledge and Comprehension About the Japanese American World War II Experience

Author: Diane L. Ball

Suggested Grade Level(s): 11

Suggested Subject Area(s): U.S. History, Advanced Placement U.S. History, or can be adapted for a Special Education Core class

Number of Class Periods Required: 6 to 7 class periods for full project (60 minutes per period); can also be used as 5 one-day units of instruction depending on the focus of the teacher

Essential Question:

  • Content-Related: How did the U.S. government treat Japanese Americans during World War II? Why were American citizens seen as the enemy?
  • Pedagogical: How do my students respond when they encounter material about which they have no previous knowledge?

Teacher Overview:
[Note: This unit, unlike the others created for the Enduring Communities project, is written as a journal, capturing one teacher’s journey as she creates and teaches curriculum about a little-known topic: the Japanese American World War II experience. The emphasis of this unit is on the reflections of the teacher and her students as they explore this content; the instructional strategies have been de-emphasized.]

While there are comprehensive curriculum units on the Japanese American experience during World War II, the New Mexico experience is vastly different from those states with War Relocation Authority camps. The focus of this unit is for an eleventh-grade U.S. History class and is connected to the belief in using primary source documents. This was a natural fit given that there are only four sentences about the Japanese American World War II experience in the textbooks used in the Gallup-McKinley County School District.

Download the entire “A Teacher’s Journey to Increasing Student Knowledge and Comprehension About the Japanese American World War II Experience” unit (8.9 MB)

Lessons

Resources and References