Tag Archives: Diary

Perspective Taking: Internment Final Project

12 May

To wrap up our unit on the Internment Camps, I wanted students to write a diary from the perspective of a Japanese American child living during the WWII period.  The diary had four main events: the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when notices of relocation went up, life in the camps, and coming home.  We spent almost a month delving into what life was like during that period, and I wanted students to be able to take all they knew and put it into the final project.  At the same time, I recognize that any writing assignment adds an additional layer of challenge to students, and an assignment like this one requires students to use narrative skills, historical thinking and writing skills, and editing skills.  It’s a tall order.  How to support them?

We ended up brainstorming as a class for each section.  Students first talked in small groups about how a Japanese American might feel after an event like the Pearl Harbor bombing.  Then they shared out, and we created a group list of words such as, “Devastated, afraid, sad, uncertain.”  Working together, they then came up with thoughts someone might have, and finally they brainstormed facts they knew about Pearl Harbor, such as the fact that it was a military base and that it was in Hawaii.

The final notes looked something like this.

photo 1 copy

Armed with these brainstorming notes, students then wrote their entries independently.  Students shared their favorite parts each day, so they could hear each other’s work and get inspired.  It was fun to see ideas zoom through a classroom.  One student had the idea to quote from the radio announcer for the Pearl Harbor entry, “This just in, we have reports that Pearl Harbor has been bombed,” and I saw the impact reverberate through the room.  Quotes from radio announcers began to appear in other entries, followed by quotes from Roosevelt, quotes from parents, and so on.  Each piece was unique, but I could see how the group brainstorming and sharing sessions had supported them in including as much detail as possible.  Here are a few final products!

photo-30           photo 2   photo 4photo 5

photo 3


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