Was the internment of Japanese Americans an abuse of power by FDR or an essential act to protect America?

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
2 - 45 minute class periods
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
This lesson is designed for a high school level United States History Class but can be modified for a middle level classroom as well. This lesson combines partner/group work with an individual assignment. The students will be examining both primary and secondary sources in this lesson.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Students will be expected to have an understanding of the impact of World War II on American citizens and how the rights of Americans have been limited during times of conflict.

Essential Question: Should the government take away Americans rights during times of war?

Lesson Objectives - the student will

Students will be able to Explain the historical context that led to the Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Assess the reasons for and against the internment of Japanese Americans and evaluate the decision made by FDR by analyzing primary and secondary sources and writing a complete paragraph that argues their position.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Conceptual Understandings (From NYS Framework) 11.8B | United States entry into World War II had a significant impact on American society.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1, 12.5, & 12.6

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed

• Historical Context for Japanese Internment and Korematsu v. US;

Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed

• Constitution Center
• Pearl Harbor Images: Library of Congress
• Executive Order for Japanese Internment and Korematsu v. US;

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

• The teacher will begin the lesson by reviewing the powers of the executive branch of government. The teacher may wish to have the students use to review the powers first. The students can then brainstorm using a Think or Write/Pair/Share. Students will think of or write as many of the powers of the executive, compare them with a partner or group, then share out what they came up with the class.

• Next the teacher will contextualize Japanese internment with the American reaction to Pearl Harbor. The teacher will remind the students of the circumstances of the attack on Pearl Harbor and review the American reaction with a brief discussion.

• The students will review Order for Japanese Internment by having the students/class read the historical context of Japanese Internment. The students will close read the excerpt of the Executive Order for the Internment of Japanese Americans and answer the close read guided questions. The teacher can assess the student answers by having the students share and compare then have teacher review answers as a class.

Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

Document set and activity questions

Documnent set and activities