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Teacher's Guide: The Bill of Rights and the Japanese American World War II Experience (curricula)

Creators: Rosalyn Tonai, Chizu Iiyama, Bess Ricketts, Christine Hiroshima


The forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II suspended their constitutional rights and civil liberties. This guide, for teachers of grades 4–12, focuses on this historical event to examine individual rights and the shared responsibility that students have to protect the rights of all individuals, even during times of national crisis.

The guide opens with an 11-page historical overview which provides brief information under the following subheadings: Japanese Communities in the 1930s, Racial Intolerance, World War II, Initial Government Action, Mass Removal, Temporary Detention Centers , Permanent W.R.A. Camps, Questions of Loyalty , Tule Lake Segregation , Resistance, Military Service , End of Exclusion, Post-War Resettlement, Empowered Citizens, and Challenges in the Courts. This is followed by an annotated timeline from 1868–1990. The majority of the guide is comprised of lesson plans, divided into elementary and intermediate-high school. Lesson plans specifically addressing Constitutional principles and the Bill of Rights are excerpted from another resource, Resources for Teachers on the Bill of Rights by John J. Patrick and Robert S. Leming, 1991. It should be noted that some lessons require materials (books, videos) that are not provided with the guide.

Elementary lesson plans:

How does the Constitution protect your right to be treated fairly by the government?

Photo Activities (analysis of historical photos featuring young children)

Letter From a Concentration Camp

Journey to Topaz , a literature based approach

Intermediate–High School lesson plans:

Building Awareness of the Japanese American Wartime Experience

Bill of Rights Cases

Understanding the Bill of Rights and the Japanese American Internment Experience

Zargonia, Internment and the Constitution (simulation with the fictional country, "Zargonia")

War Powers vs. The Bill of Rights: Research & Debate

A Court of Historical Review and Inquiry: Japanese American Internment during World War II

Application to Other Groups

Culminating Activities

Day of Remembrance

Story Quilt

The guide's appendix includes: a map of the camps, various primary source documents, and a summary of constitutional rights that were violated. In addition, the guide provides an annotated bibliography on Japanese Americans and World War II organized by curriculum materials, literature, reference, and audio visual materials.

This 90-page teacher's guide was published in 1992 for The Bill of Rights Education Collaborative Short Courses Project by the National Japanese American Historical Society, the San Francisco Unified School District—Department of Integration Staff Development, and the University of California—Hastings College of the Law. It was funded through a grant from the Bill of Rights Education Collaborative (BREC), Washington, D.C., a national project sponsored by the American Historical Association and the American Political Science Association and supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Authored by Janet Hayakawa , Densho
For More Information

For More Information

Select lesson plans from the guide: http://online.sfsu.edu/jaintern/lessonplans.html .

Several lesson plans in the guide are excerpted from Patrick, John J. and Robert S. Leming. Resources for Teachers on the Bill of Rights , ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education, 1991. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pur1.32754078038753;view=1up;seq=1 .