Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston’s Farewell to Manzanar Grade 7 Lesson Objectives



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Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston’s Farewell to Manzanar - Grade 7
Lesson Objectives: As students will have previous exposure to the historical themes and factual information about the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the United States involvement in WWII, and the internment of Japanese in camps throughout the western United States, this lesson exemplar will allow students to participate in critical discussion of two stories that illuminate important, yet divergent, experiences of war and conflict. This lesson exemplar will push students to think critically about the experience of wartime as felt by both soldiers and civilians as they navigated specific trials that were a part of their direct or peripheral involvement in WWII.
Within the construct of this lesson, students will use stories of imprisonment and internment during WWII to both further their understanding of history and their application of critical literacy skills embedded in the Common Core State Standards. Students will practice existing skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening as they apply them to new understandings about overarching historical themes. As part of their participation, students will also compare and contrast different people's wartime experiences, while being deliberate in their use of textual evidence when stating claims and establishing conclusions.
Throughout this short unit of study, students will use the text selections to derive a more specific understanding of larger, more overarching historical themes including (1) the military and civilian experience of WWII, (2) human resilience during times of historical conflict, and (3) how people and communities can potentially heal from the horror of wartime experiences. In conjunction with discussion and peer and teacher feedback, students will use close reading activities to participate in discourse focused on how people existed within different contexts of the same world events.
Reading Task: Students will silently read the passage, first while listening to the instructor read aloud, and then independently. The teacher will then lead students through a set of concise, text-dependent questions that compel students to reread specific sentences and paragraphs in order to extract and discuss themes present in Hillenbrand and Wakatsuki Houston’s discussion of divergent experiences in WWII.
Vocabulary Task: Most of the meanings of words in this selection can be discovered from careful reading of the context in which they appear. The practice is both called for by the standards and is vital. Teachers must be prepared to reinforce it constantly by modeling and holding students accountable for looking in the context for meaning as well.
Sentence Syntax Task: On occasion students will encounter particularly difficult sentences to decode. Teachers should engage in a close examination of such sentences to help students discover how they are built and how they convey meaning. While many questions addressing important aspects of the text double as questions about syntax, students should receive regular supported practice in deciphering complex sentences. It is crucial that the help they receive in unpacking text complexity focuses both on the precise meaning of what the author is saying and why the author might have constructed the sentence in this particular fashion. That practice will in turn support students’ ability to unpack meaning from syntactically complex sentences they encounter in future reading.
Discussion Task: Students will discuss the passages in depth with their teacher and classmates, performing activities that result in a close reading of passages from both the Hillenbrand non-fiction memoir and the Wakatsuki-Houston novel. The goal of this exemplar is to reinforce the skills students have acquired regarding how to extend their understanding and interaction with multiple texts when investigating a set of focused historical themes.
Writing Task: Students will compare and contrast two perspectives on WWII and use strong evidence to establish and defend their conclusions about several important historical themes.
Text Selection: Students often encapsulate their learning of World War II in the context of the Pearl Harbor attacks, light coverage of Japanese internment, and discussion of important battles and turning points between 1941 and 1945; however, this piece challenges students to understand the power of personal experience and perspective, each from a person touched by WWII in specific and meaningful ways. These passages also help students to build an awareness of how governments potentially act in times of war.
Outline of Lesson Plan: This lesson is designed for a four or five-day course of instruction. This exemplar can be executed in different ways to support two alternatives for student learning. The first involves students' close reading of short, specific excerpts and is structured for teachers and students to use these shorter text selections to develop, discuss, and write about important historical themes. The second possibility, involving student reading of the full texts, will allow students to read longer passages of text in order to extract meaningful excerpts for discussing and writing about relevant historical themes. Please see Appendix A for a detailed discussion of how to use this lesson in a classroom where students will be reading the full text of either work. Despite the learning pathway chosen, each day will follow a similar structure. Additionally, there is great possibility for more student involvement through open debate of text-based ideas, extensions with historical themes, peer review of the culminating writing piece, and potential connections to future units of study in an eighth grade history course.
Standards Addressed: The following Common Core State Standards are the focus of this exemplar: RL.7-8.1, RL.7-8.2, RL.7-8.5, RL.7-8.6; RI.7-8.1, RI.7-8.2, RI.7-8.3, RI.7-8.6, RI.7-8.7; W.7-8.1; RH.7-8.1, RH.7-8.2, RH.7-8.4, RH.7-8.5, RH.7-8.6, RH.7-8.7, RH.7-8.9; L.7-8.4.
Text #1: Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken


Part 1:

“The men had been adrift for twenty-seven days. Borne by an equatorial current, they had floated at least one thousand miles, deep into Japanese-controlled waters. The rafts were beginning to deteriorate into jelly, and gave of a sour, burning odor. The men’s bodies were pocked with salt sores, and their lips were so swollen that they pressed into their nostrils and chins. They spent their days with their eyes fixed on the sky, singing “White Christmas,” muttering about food. No one was even looking for them any more. They were alone on sixty-four million square miles of ocean. A month earlier, twenty-six-year-old [Louie] Zamperini had been one of the greatest runners in the world, expected by many to be the first to break the four-minute mile, one of the most celebrated barriers in sport. Now his Olympian’s body had wasted to less than one hundred pounds and his famous legs could no longer lift him. Almost everyone outside his family had given him up for dead.”


Part 2:

“Every man in camp was thin, many emaciated, but Louie and Phil were thinner than anyone else. The rations weren’t nearly enough and Louie was plagued by dysentery. He couldn’t get warm and he was racked by a cough. He teetered through the exercise sessions, trying to keep his legs from buckling. At night, he folded his paper blankets to create loft, but it barely helped; the unheated, drafty rooms were only a few degrees warmer than the frigid outside air.”




Borne – (verb) to bear the weight of Equatorial Current – (noun) ocean currents flowing westward near the equator, controlled by the winds

Pocked – (adjective) small marks on the face similar to pimples

Emaciated – (adjective) state of abnormal thinness caused by lack of nutrition or disease

Dysentery – (noun) a disease marked by inflamed bowels, diarrhea that becomes life-threatening

“The guards were fascinated to learn that the sick, emaciated man in the first barracks had been an Olympic runner. They quickly found a Japanese runner and brought him in for a match race against the American. Hauled out and forced to run, Louie was trounced, and the guards made a tittering mockery out of him. Louie was angry and shaken, and his growing weakness scared him. POWs were dying by the thousands in camps all over Japan and its captured territories, and winter was coming.”


Part 3:

Invasion seemed inevitable and imminent, both to the POWs and to the Japanese. Having been warned of the kill-all order, the POWs were terrified. At Borneo’s Batu Lintang POW camp, which held two thousand POWs and civilian captives, Allied fighters circled the camp every day. A civilian warned POW G. W. Pringle that “the Japanese have orders no prisoners are to be recaptured by Allied forces. All must be killed.” Villagers told of having seen hundreds of bodies of POWs in the jungle. “This then is a forerunner of a fate which must be ours,” wrote Pringle in his diary. A notoriously sadistic camp official began speaking of his empathy for the POWs, and how a new camp was being prepared where there was ample food, medical care, and no more forced labor. The POWs knew it was a lie, surely designed to lure them into obeying an order to march that would, as Pringle wrote, “afford the Japs a wonderful opportunity to carry out the Japanese Government order to ‘Kill them All.’”


Part 4:

“As bad as were the physical consequences of captivity, the emotional injuries were much more insidious, widespread, and enduring. In the first six postwar years, one of the most common diagnoses given to hospitalized former Pacific POWs was psychoneurosis. Nearly forty years after the war, more than 85 percent of former Pacific POWs in one study



Barracks – (noun) a group of buildings used to accommodate military personnel or in this case prisoners

Tittering – (adjective) a kind of laughing that accompanies cruel ridicule

Mockery – (noun) ridicule, contempt
Inevitable – (adjective) unavoidable

Imminent – (adjective) likely to occur at any moment

Notoriously – (adjective) widely and unfavorably known; famous in a negative or bad way

Sadistic – (adjective) deriving pleasure from extreme cruelty

Empathy – (noun) the identification with or experiencing of feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another
Insidious – (adjective) damaging in a way that cannot be immediately seen

Diagnoses – (noun) the determination of the nature and circumstances of a disease

Psychoneurosis – (noun) a serious mental illness

Part 4 (cont'd):

suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), characterized by flashbacks, anxiety and nightmares. Flashbacks, in which men re-experienced their traumas and were unable to distinguish the illusion from reality, were common. Intense nightmares were almost ubiquitous. Men walked in their sleep, acting out prison camp ordeals, and woke screaming, sobbing, or lashing out. Some slept on their floors because they couldn’t sleep on mattresses, ducked in terror when airliners flew over, or hoarded food. One man had a recurrent hallucination of seeing his dead POW friends walking past. Another was unable to remember the war. Milton McMullen couldn’t stop using Japanese terms, a habit that had been pounded into him. Dr. Alfred Weinstien . . . was dogged by urges to scavenge in garbage cans. Huge numbers of men escaped by drinking. In one study of former Pacific POWs, more than a quarter had been diagnosed with alcoholism. “For these men, the central struggle of post-war life was to restore their dignity and find a way to see the world as something other than menacing blackness. There was no right way to peace; every man had to find his own path, according to his own history. Some succeeded, for others, the war would never really end.”


Anxiety – (noun) being nervous or scared almost all the time, even when nothing bad is happening

Traumas – (noun) body wounds or psychological injuries caused by violence or accident
Ubiquitous – (adjective) found everywhere

Hoarded – (verb) to accumulate for preservation, future use

Recurrent – (adjective) occurring or appearing again, especially repeatedly

Dogged – (adjective) persistent in effort, stubbornly tenacious
Menacing – (adjective) posing the threat of evil, harm, or injury





TEXT #2: Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki, and Houston, James D. Farewell to Manzanar

Part 1:

“They got him two weeks later, when we were staying overnight at Woody’s place, on Terminal Island. Five hundred Japanese families lived there then, and FBI deputies had been questioning everyone, ransacking houses for anything that could conceivably be used for signaling planes or ships or that indicated loyalty to the Emperor. Most of the houses had radios with a short-wave band and a high aerial on the roof so that wives could make contact with the fishing boats during these long cruises. To the FBI every radio owner was a potential saboteur. The confiscators were often deputies sworn in hastily during the turbulent days right after Pearl Harbor, and these men seemed to be acting out the general panic, seeing sinister possibilities in the most ordinary household items: flashlights, kitchen knives, cameras, lanterns, toy swords.”


“The next morning two FBI men in fedora hats and trench coats—like out of a thirties movie—knocked on Woody’s door, and when they left, Papa was between them. He didn’t struggle. There was no point to it. He had become a man without a country. The land of his birth was at war with America; yet after thirty-five years here he was still prevented by law from becoming an American citizen. He was suddenly a man with no rights who looked exactly like the enemy.”
Part 2:

“The American Friends Service helped us find a small house in Boyle Heights, another minority ghetto, in downtown Los Angeles, now inhabited briefly by a few hundred Terminal Island refugees. Executive Order 9066 had been signed by President Roosevelt, giving the War Department authority to define military areas in the western states and to exclude from them anyone who might threaten the war effort. There was a lot of talk about internment, or moving inland, or something like that in store for all Japanese Americans . . .




Short-wave band – (noun) radio frequency typically used to communicate with boats at sea

Saboteur – (noun) a person who commits sabotage; trying to destroy or harm a government

Sinister – (adjective) scary and evil


American Friends Service – (noun) a Quaker group that works to help people in times of extreme need

Ghetto – (noun) a section of a city, especially a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of similar minority or ethnic groups

Internment – (noun) the state of being confined
They had seen how quickly Papa was removed, and they knew now that he would not be back for quite a while.”
“Then Papa stepped out, wearing a fedora hat and a wilted white shirt. This was September 1942. He had been gone nine months. He had aged ten years. He looked over sixty, gaunt, wilted as his shirt, underweight, leaning on that cane and favoring his right leg . . . He kept that cane for years and it served him well. I see it now as a sad homemade version of the samurai sword his great-great grandfather carried in the land around Hiroshima, at a time when such warriors weren’t much needed anymore, when their swords were both their virtue and their burden. It helps me understand how Papa’s life could end at a place like Manzanar. He didn’t die there, but things finished for him there, whereas for me, it was like a birthplace. The camp was where our life lines intersected.”
“Papa never said more than three or four sentences about his nine months at Fort Lincoln. Few men who spent time there will talk about it more than that. Not because of the physical hardship: he had been through worse times on fishing trips down the coast of Mexico. It was the charge of disloyalty. For a man raised in Japan, there was no greater disgrace. And it was the humiliation. It brought him face to face with his own vulnerability, his own powerlessness. He had no rights, no home, no control over his own life. This kind of emasculation was suffered, in one form or another, by all the men interned at Manzanar.”

Gaunt – (adjective) extremely thin and bony; haggard and drawn, as from great hunger or torture, emaciated.

Disloyalty – (noun) violation of allegiance or duty

Vulnerability – (noun) being susceptible to being wounded or hurt, open to attack or criticism

Emasculation – (noun) deprivation or loss of strength or vigor

Part 3:

“If I had been told, the next morning, that I could stay outside the fence as long as I wanted, that I was free to go, it would have sent me sprinting for the compound. Lovely as they were to look at, the Sierras were frightening to think about, an icy barricade. If you took off in the opposite direction and made it past the Inyos, you’d hit Death Valley, while to the south there loomed a range of brown sculpted hills everyone said were full of rattlesnakes. Camp One was about as far as I cared to venture. What’s more, Block 28 was “where I lived” now.”


“In our family the response to this news [the closing of Manzanar] was hardly joyful. For one thing we had no home to return to. Worse, the very thought of going back to the west coast filled us with dread. What will they think of us, those who sent us here? How will they look at us? Three years of wartime propaganda—racist headlines, atrocity movies, hate slogans, and fright mask posters—had turned the Japanese face into something despicable and grotesque . . . What’s more, our years of isolation at Manzanar had widened the already spacious gap between races, and it is not hard to understand why so many preferred to stay where they were.”

Part 4:

“‘Gee, I didn’t know you could speak English.’ She was genuinely amazed. I was stunned . . . This girl’s guileless remark came as an illumination, an instant knowledge that brought with it the first buds of true shame.”


“From that day on, part of me yearned to be invisible. In a way, nothing would

Compound – (noun) consisting of two or more parts. In this case a group of housing structures within the Manzanar internment camp


Propaganda – (noun) information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm and person, group, or movement

Atrocity – (noun) an act of extreme wickedness, cruelty, or brutality

Fright Mask – (noun)originally a prop in Japanese Kabuki theaters meant to scare. Used as anti-Japanese images meant to scare Americans during WWII.
Guileless – (adjective) “Guile” means tricky and not honest; guileless means the opposite, honest and sincere

have been nicer than for no one to see me . . . They wouldn’t see me, they would see the slant-eyed face, the Oriental. This is what accounts, in part, for the entire evacuation. You cannot deport 110,000 people unless you have stopped seeing individuals. Of course, for such a thing to happen, there has to be a kind of acquiescence on the part of the victims, some submerged belief that this treatment is deserved, or at least allowable. It’s an attitude easy for non-whites to acquire in America. I had inherited it. Manzanar had confirmed it.”



Oriental – (adjective) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the geographic East; Eastern.

Deport – (verb) to send or carry off; transport, especially forcibly

Acquiescence – (noun) consent by silence or without objection, compliance, giving in

Submerged – (adjective) hidden, covered, or unknown




Instructional Exemplar – Perspectives of WWII: Imprisonment, Internment, Hope and Humanity
Each day, students will follow a similar agenda that will guide the lesson from start to finish. It is important to recognize that each day of this lesson is not finite; they are a fluid set of learning experiences that can be timed according to the specific needs of divergent classroom structures and daily school schedules.
1. Introduce the text and students read independently

Other than giving an initial brief definition to words students would likely not be able to define from context (bolded in the text), avoid giving any background context or instructional guidance at the outset. This close reading approach forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge. It is critical to cultivating independence and creating a culture of close reading that students initially grapple with rich texts without the aid of prefatory material, extensive notes, or even teacher explanations.


2. Read the passage out loud as students follow along

Asking students to read along with the text selections from Unbroken and Farewell to Manzanar exposes them a second time to the ideas before they begin their close reading of the text. Speaking clearly and carefully will allow students to follow the text, and reading out loud with students following along improves fluency while offering all students access to this complex text. Accurate and skillful modeling of the reading provides students who may be dysfluent with accurate pronunciations and syntactic patterns of English. Though these readings may not seem complex, even accomplished readers will benefit from this kind of repetition.


3. Guide discussion of the passage with a series of specific text-dependent questions and tasks.

As students move through these questions, be sure to check for and reinforce their understanding of academic vocabulary in the corresponding text (which will be boldfaced the first time it appears in the text). At times, the questions may focus on academic vocabulary.



Day 1: Establishing Perspectives on WWII


  1. Student silent Reading of Text Selection #1 Unbroken

  2. Read Aloud

  3. Writing Prompt

  4. Discussion Questions

  5. Student Silent Reading of Text Selection #1 Manzanar

  6. Read Aloud




  1. Discussion Questions

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