Beauty Behind Barbed Wire: The Relocation Camp Experience of Estelle Ishigo

Plan Outline:

Click on links below to go directly to lesson plan for indicated day.

Time Required:

Four days (lessons may be done individually).

Materials Needed:

Objectives and Assessment Criteria:

  1. Students will learn to analyze and interpret information from a variety of primary sources.
  2. Students will develop a sense of historical empathy with the internees' experiences during and after the internment.
  3. Students will describe the conditions of the Japanese American internment during World War II, through discussion and writing.
  4. Students will relate the themes of tolerance and prejudice to the era.
  5. Students will understand that media plays a part in propaganda.
  6. Students will learn that the artist conveys thoughts and emotions through art.

Standards Correlation:

The teaching activities in this lesson plan correlate to the National Standards for History.

California History-Social Science Standards 11.7 "Students analyze the American participation in World War II, in terms of: 5. the constitutional issues and impact of events on the U.S. home front, including the internment of Japanese Americans. . ."

The National Standards for the United States and World History encourages students to develop a sense of historical thinking. Middle school students should engage in activities in the following five areas:

  1. Chronological Thinking
  2. Historical Comprehension
  3. Historical Analysis and Interpretation
  4. Historical Research Capabilities
  5. Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making

Conceptual Links to Prior Understanding and Knowledge:

These lessons are designed for use in a high school U.S. History class as part of the study of World War II. Students should be aware of the history of Japanese immigration to the United States and the general antipathy toward Asian immigrants on the West Coast as exemplified by numerous laws that targeted Asians. Students should have studied the causes and beginning of World War II including the Japanese invasion of China and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Students should know that shortly after Pearl Harbor many Japanese Americans were arrested by FBI agents because of their jobs or membership in various organizations with ties to Japan. After Executive Order 9066 was signed, the internment of anyone of Japanese ancestry began on the West Coast.

Cross-curricular Connections:

Teachers may use these lessons with an art history class and to accompany the study of literature about Japanese-American Internment in an English class. Three suggested novels are Farewell to Manzanar, Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family and Journey to Topaz.


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