ALEX Learning Activity


Voices From the Past

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: Asia Hester
System:Huntsville City
School:Academy For Academics & Arts
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2052
Voices From the Past
Digital Tool/Resource:
A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S Constitution - Smithsonian Website
Web Address – URL:

Students will research and analyze a variety of sources related to the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Students will then write dramatic monologues that testify to some of the injustices of this period. Students will use the digital resource provided as part of their research.

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit.

  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.

Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 6
3) Explore a scripted or improvised character by imagining the given circumstances in a drama/theatre work.

Unpacked Content
Artistic Process: Creating
Anchor Standards:
Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Process Components: Develop
Essential Questions:
EU: Theatre artists work to discover different ways of communicating meaning.
EQ: How, when, and why do theatre artists' choices change?
Concepts & Vocabulary:

Skills Assessed
  • Sixth graders work collaboratively to plan a dramatization, take part in its production, and discuss the results. They project movement and improvise dialogue in dramas. No prop, sets, or costumes used at this point.
  • The focus for this age group is to expand body awareness and sensory perceptions. Students incorporate their life experiences into dramatic play by creating environments, analyzing characters, and inventing actions to depict chosen life experiences.
Skill Examples:
Ways to Explore Imagination: Ways to Create Body Movement with Storytelling:
  • Students can incorporate group storytelling with using the concept of a living pop-up book. Students work in groups of three to five to write an original story and are prepared to act it out with the use of the concept of the Pop Up Book. See the link below:
Way to Explore Artistic Choices:
  • For the idea to create their own understanding and opinion of artistic choices, students view live and recorded presentations, identifying dramatic elements such as plot, dialogue, movement, set, costume, and props. Students demonstrate, describe, and illustrate, with examples from the performance(s), a variety of ways a specific character communicates with the audience. Students should be able to articulate these opinions in oral and written form. Below is a great link to comparing acting choices in theatre vs. film. This is a great starting point:
Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 6
22) Identify universal themes or common social issues and express them through a drama/theatre work.

Unpacked Content
Artistic Process: Connecting
Anchor Standards:
Anchor Standard 11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.
Process Components: Interrelate
Essential Questions:
EU: Theatre artists understand and can communicate their creative process as they analyze the way the world may be understood.
EQ: What happens when theatre artists allow an understanding of themselves and the world to inform perceptions about theatre and the purpose of their work?
Concepts & Vocabulary:
Skills Assessed
  • Through theatre history research, a student can articulate connections between past theatre practices and their contemporary counterparts.

  • Students will use the knowledge of the relationships between historical elements of theatre and contemporary theatre practice can inform and influence a production concept.
Skill Examples:
  • Students explore dramatizations and scenes from a variety of historical periods and cultures.
  • Specific examples of theatrical productions stimulate understanding of the impact of society on theatre, and theatre's impact on society.
Resources for Research and Analysis Using History to Compare
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of the historical practice of commedia dell 'arte by preparing a short presentation to include: Aspects of commedia dell 'arte: lazzi, scenarios, plot, specific stances and mannerisms of commedia dell 'arte characters. Character examples with their identified commedia dell 'arte counterparts: straight (young lovers); exaggerated (masters (Pantalone, Dottore, Capitano) and servants (Harlequin, Pulcinello, Brighella) Basic beginning, middle, end storyline of scene. Students will then apply the stock characters and scenarios to their favorite TV show or a well-known nursery rhyme. Students will complete both a written script and oral performance.
Learning Objectives:

  • Students will identify the experience of Japanese-Americans on the American home front during WWII.
  • Students will create a monologue to reveal the inner thoughts of a character from this time period.
  • Students will express the injustice of this period through their presentation of their work. 
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. Show students an example of the posters placed around Northern California and other areas where Japanese-Americans had settled in early 1942 explaining the relocation of all persons of Japanese descent.  (

Ask the students: What would you think if you found this poster in your neighborhood and what emotions do you think you would experience? Review and connect to information learned previously about WWII, Pearl Harbor, and Executive Order 9066 signed by President F.D.R.

2. Have students research more information about the Japanese Internment camps and record their findings using a learning log. Direct students to the A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the Constitution website to conduct their research.

Students should keep the following focus questions in mind as they research: What was this experience like? How did Japanese Americans deal with their situation? What did they feel?

Japanese Americans in WWII: Learning Log

3.  Distribute copies of the Bill of Rights and allow time for students to read and decipher the meaning of each of the first ten amendments.

Have students answer the following questions about the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments.

  • In your opinion, was the treatment of the Japanese American citizens during WWII a violation of their First Amendment rights?
  • Why or why not? Cite specific examples.

4. Distribute Monologue Planning Worksheets. Tell students about the differences between writing monologues and writing essays. Teach students how to use the monologue planning guide to develop their character whose point of view they will be assuming for their monologue. Allow students time to complete planning guides and to write monologues. Have students switch monologues with another student for peer revisions.

5. Have students practice portraying the emotion of the time period through the presentation of their monologues. Allow students time to practice performing their monologues. Have students perform their monologues for the class. Students should complete a Peer Evaluation Form for each monologue performance. 

Assessment Strategies:

  • Students will complete a learning log to document their research. 
  • Students will be assessed based on their answers to teacher directed questions throughout the lesson. (Steps one and three in the activity.)
  • Students will complete a monologue planning worksheet to document their planning. 
  • Final projects will be assessed using a rubric.
  • Students will complete a Performance Peer Evaluation form during presentations.

Japanese Americans in WWII: Learning Log

Monologue Planning Worksheet

Monologue Script Writing and Performance Rubric

Performance Peer Evaluation Form

Advanced Preparation:

This learning activity should be done after a lesson about WWII, Pearl Harbor, and Executive Order 9066 signed by President F.D.R.

Students will need access to computers and internet to explore the digital resource and conduct research. The teacher will need access to a computer and a digital projector to show students images of the evacuation order.

The teacher will need to make copies of the learning logs, Bill of Rights, monologue planning worksheets, rubrics and peer notes for each student.

Variation Tips (optional):
Notes or Recommendations (optional):

The inspiration for this learning activity came from The Kennedy Center ArtsEdge lesson Giving Voice to History and can be found at the following website: 


  Keywords and Search Tags  
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