In this module, students will study Japanese-American relations during World War II. They will consider the question "How does war affect individuals and societies?" as they read case studies about the plight of Japanese-Americans interned on American soil and American prisoners of war held captive in Japan during World War II. The central texts are Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and a short biography of Mine Okubo, a Japanese-American interned during the war. As students read both of these pieces of literary nonfiction, they will consider how the narrative structure can communicate real events in a compelling manner. In Unit 1, students will build background knowledge as they consider the causes of Japanese and American involvement in World War II focusing on the war in the Pacific. They will begin by studying the attack on Pearl Harbor, considering conflicting accounts of this pivotal event.
In Unit 2, students will analyze case studies of Louie Zamperini (in Unbroken) and Mine Okubo to explore the thematic concept of resisting "invisibility" while being held captive. Students also will read primary source documents related to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Finally, in Unit 3, students will finish reading Unbroken and study a second thematic concept: the journey of the imprisoned or interned to becoming "visible" after release. Students will research Mine Okubo's life after internment; and for their final performance task, the will write a narrative in which they tell the story of how she went from being made "invisible" during internment to becoming "visible" post-internment. This module is content-rich; consider previewing the full module with a social studies colleague and finding ways to collaborate to provide an even richer experience.