ALEX Learning Activity


Japanese Americans' Internment Experience

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Hannah Bradley
System:Dothan City
School:Carver Magnet School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 1942
Japanese Americans' Internment Experience
Digital Tool/Resource:
WWII Japanese American Internment Propaganda Film YouTube Video
Web Address – URL:

While teaching a unit on WWII, the teacher will show two video clips to help students understand how the United States government's portrayal of Japanese American internment camps differed from the experience of the Japanese Americans living in these camps. The students will compare and contrast using a Venn diagram graphic organizer.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 6
United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
7 ) Identify changes on the American home front during World War II.

Example: rationing

•  Recognizing the retooling of factories from consumer to military production
•  Identifying new roles of women and African Americans in the workforce
•  Describing increased demand on the Birmingham steel industry and Port of Mobile facilities (Alabama)
•  Describing the experience of African Americans and Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II, including the Tuskegee Airmen and occupants of internment camps (Alabama)
Unpacked Content
Strand: Economics, Geography, History, Civics and Government
Course Title: United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Describe the types of rationing implemented and the reasons rationing was necessary.
  • Describe the shift in factory production from consumer to military during WWII.
  • Describe the changing role of women and ethnic minorities in the workplace.
  • Describe the industrial contributions of Alabama during WWII, including ports and facilities.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • internment camp
  • rationing
  • Birmingham steel industry
  • Port of Mobile
  • Tuskegee Airmen
  • retooling
Students know:
  • The types of rationing that occurred in the United States during WWII.
Students are able to:
  • Cite evidence to support changes on the home front using primary and secondary sources.
  • Evaluate the contributions of significant individuals and/or groups in the US during WWII.
Students understand that:
  • Many changes occurred in the United States during WWII.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.6.7- Recognize that war often requires sacrifices from the civilian population; identify minority and female contributions to World War II, including the Tuskegee Airmen, code talkers, and Rosie the Riveter; identify changes that happen when resources are transferred from civilian to military use in time of war.

Learning Objectives:

Students will describe the experience of the Japanese American occupants of internment camps in the United States during World War II. 

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

This activity would be best utilized during a unit on World War II so that students will have background knowledge about the causes for the United States' entry into World War II.

1. Ask student volunteers to share what they know about the country of Japan's involvement in World War II. 

This video, Japanese-American Internment During WWII from the History Channel, provides a brief background and overview of the historical context of the internment of Japanese Americans. You may wish to show this video first to help students activate their prior knowledge and understand how the internment of Japanese Americans correlates to other events of WWII. 

2. Have students draw a Venn diagram on a sheet of notebook paper (two overlapping circles). Have students label the left side of the diagram as "U.S. Government Portrayal" and the right side "Japanese American Experience". Tell students they are going to watch two video clips, one is a propaganda video that was created by the United States government to explain to citizens the internment of Japanese Americans; the other is a video of Japanese American actor George Takei's experience as a young boy in a Japanese internment camp. Direct students to write down at least four facts from each video in the corresponding circle. Tell students they should look for how the experience of living in these camps was portrayed or discussed in each video.

3. Show the digital tool, WWII Japanese American Internment Propaganda Film (9:42 minutes), and allow students to write down four facts in the graphic organizer. Next, show the other video clip, "George Takei's Life in an Internment Camp"  (2:48 minutes) and remind students to write down four facts from this video clip. 

Note: The propaganda video portrays the internment camps as positive places, where the Japanese American families were served healthy, nourishing food and lived in nice homes. It is portrayed that the Japanese Americans willingly chose to go to the internment camps. George Takei describes being terrified as U.S. soldiers stormed into his family's home to remove them to the internment camp. He also describes living in a horse stable in the camp surrounded by a high barbed wire fence.

4. Tell students they will now meet with a partner to complete the middle section of their graphic organizer. The students will need to discuss the facts they already wrote down during the viewing, and develop at least two things that both videos had in common, as far as the portrayal of the Japanese Americans' experience in the internment camps.

 5. You may choose to lead a whole class discussion on each students' responses on the graphic organizer.

Assessment Strategies:

Collect each student's graphic organizer to ensure they were able to describe the experience of Japanese Americans in internment camps.

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher will need the ability to play internet videos with sound.

Each student will need a sheet of paper and a pencil or pen.

Variation Tips (optional):

You may wish to complete the first part of the graphic organizer with students to model how to take notes from a video viewing. 

Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: