Being Made Invisible: Imprisoned and Interned | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M3A:U2

Being Made Invisible: Imprisoned and Interned

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In this second unit, students will continue to closely examine the case study of imprisoned Louie Zamperini as they read Unbroken. They will expand their study as they learn about interned Japanese-American Mine Okubo in a separate biographical account. As students read both Zamperini's and Okubo's stories, they will focus on the theme of resisting forced "invisibility" while being imprisoned or interned. This theme concept will be analyzed through a dual lens: the internal struggle to maintain dignity, identity, and self-worth against dehumanizing efforts; and the external isolation of being closed off from the outside world while in captivity.

In the mid-unit assessment, students will build on the background knowledge they have gained about the Pacific Theater in World War II and the plight of Japanese-Americas as they classify various mediums used to convey information about World War II. Students will also evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums to communicate during this mid-unit assessment. For the end of unit assessment, students will write an informational essay in which they use the strongest evidence from both texts to show how captors forced "invisibility" upon those imprisoned or interned.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How does war (and conflict) affect individuals and societies?
  • How does captivity make the captive invisible?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums?
  • There are important yet divergent experiences in war and conflict.

Content Connections

NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum:

3. Time, Continuity, and Change

  • Reading, reconstructing, and interpreting events
  • Analyzing causes and consequences of events and developments
  • Considering competing interpretations of events

6. Power, Authority, and Governance

  • Origins, uses, and abuses of power
  • Conflict, diplomacy, and war

10. Global Connections and Exchange

  • Past, current, and likely future global connections and interactions
  • Cultural diffusion, the spread of ideas, beliefs, technology, and goods
  • Benefits/consequences of global interdependence (social, political, economic)
  • Tension between national interests and global priorities


  • N/A


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand
One per student
ISBN: ​9780812974492


Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • Consider collaborating with the Social Studies teacher during this unit, as students build background knowledge about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, read and study primary source documents, and study social and cultural influences of Japan on the Japanese soldier.
  • Invite World War II historians, veterans, or previously interned Japanese-Americans to visit and provide students with compelling and interesting stories and experiences about the Pacific Theater in World War II and Japanese-American interment.

Students may study the local monuments, the service of local community members who were involved in World War II, and any local connections to the internment of Japanese-Americans.

Students may organize a community benefit or event to recognize the service and sacrifice of veterans in their community.

Consider using the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources as a resource for World War II and Japanese Internment.

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