Anna Hamilton

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Anna Hamilton

Grade Level – 7 & 8


Lesson Overview:

This lesson will be implemented in my class following the completion of historical fiction about Japanese internment. The lesson introduces the topic of Japanese American incarceration during World War II and places it in the context of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration. It also examines President Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech through Norman Rockwell’s painting of the “Four Freedoms”. Lastly, it requires students to determine whether Japanese Americans were or were not guaranteed the four freedoms promised to all American citizens during World War II.

Standards Addressed:
History/Social Science:

11.7 Students analyze America's participation in World War II.

Analyze content and context of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s foreign policy during World War II (e.g., Four Freedoms speech).

• Students will apply the concept of the “Four Freedoms” to the Japanese American

experience during World War II.

10.8 Students analyze the causes and consequences of World War II

Describe the political, diplomatic and military leaders during the war (e.g., Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

Language Arts:

(Writing Strategies 1.1 & 2.3) Establish coherent thesis, gather evidence in support.

(Reading Comprehension 2.2) Generate relevant questions, which can be researched.

English Language Learner (ELL) Strategies:

Use of Supplementary material:

This lesson uses visual image analysis and writing assignments (such as writing a speech and a news article). It utilizes visual arts analysis of Norman Rockwell’s painting of the Four Freedoms to enable students to process historical and political concepts through art.

Adaptation of Content:
Have students write down the following vocabulary words or phrases and look up the definitions:

  • concentration camp

  • incarceration

  • armaments

  • inhabitants

  • prevail

  • explicitly

  • metropolis

  • Nisei

Negative Libert

Engaging Scenario:

  1. This lesson begins with a homework assignment in which students respond in two to three well written paragraphs to the following question, written on the board or overhead projector:

“Write an inaugural speech you would give if you were elected President of the United States of America in the year 1941.” Take into consideration the financial hardships of The Depression, and World War II events. Include four essential freedoms in your speech that you would guarantee for the citizens of the United States of America.

  1. Choose a student to read the speech that is most similar in content to that of Franklin D.Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms”speech.

Task Summary:


1. Read aloud the excerpt from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms”

speech (reprinted following the lesson plan - you may reproduce this excerpt on an overhead transparency or write on the board). Show the students the accompanying Norman Rockwell “Four Freedoms” paintings (copy onto overhead transparency). Discuss the four freedoms and have students write down the vocabulary term “Four Freedoms” and the following definition.

Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom of Worship, Freedom

from Want, Freedom from Fear – the freedoms that should prevail everywhere in the world as stated in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s January 6, 1941 speech.

Discuss with the students the relationship between each freedom and its corresponding

painting. Ask students why President Roosevelt would have listed these Four Freedoms as those which were most important. Briefly discuss the context of the Great Depression, the looming threat of World War II, and the problems facing the United States in 1941.

Point out that two of FDR's four freedoms are framed as freedom to do something: freedom to speak one's mind and freedom to worship as one sees fit. The other two freedoms are framed in terms of freedom from something: freedom from want and freedom from fear. Freedom from is a negative liberty. Copy the following definition of negative liberty and discuss example.
Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints… Positive liberty is the possibility of acting—or the fact of acting—in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes.
EXAMPLE : Teenagers tend to enjoy the freedom that comes with being able to drive. But when they ask their parents for the keys to the car, are they enjoying the freedom from parental interference or are they enjoying the freedom to go out and see their friends whenever they wish? Try asking your students which idea of freedom most closely resembles their way of thinking. Does the class agree, or does it depend on the individual?

2. Using the student activity sheet “Excerpts from the Diary of an Evacuee” have students

read the excerpt from the diary aloud or silently, then answer the questions. Tell them that this diary excerpt was written in one of America’s concentration camps in

Arkansas where Japanese Americans were held during World War II. A buddy read format may be used to allow one student to read while the other listens or takes notes. They stop periodically to discuss and create a graphic organizer for study.


At the end of this lesson, students will be able to write a news article addressing ways in which the U.S. government failed to protect the Four Freedoms for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II.
Resources/Materials Needed:


Excerpts of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” Speech (reproduced following the

lesson plan)

Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms Paintings

Student Activity Sheet #1 — Excerpts from the Diary of an Evacuee and questions



The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum.

Four Freedom Painting, Norman Rockwell

Four Freedoms – FDR Memorial, Washington D.C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Defines the “Four Freedoms”
“In the future days which we seek to make secure,

we look forward to a world founded upon four essential

human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and

expression — everywhere in the world. The second is

freedom of every person to worship God in his own way

—everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from

want, which, translated into world terms, means economic

understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy

peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the

world. The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated

into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of

armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion

that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of

physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in

the world.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

State of the Union Speech

January 6, 1941


Read these diary excerpts and then answer the questions that follow.
October 31-42. 11:45 or 12 we had arrived at our destination – could see the points of the barbed wire fences with droplets of rain stuck no them. Camp looked like some regimented metropolis – orderly rows of lights, quite a sprawling village…

We were brought to a brightly lighted mess hall – ah, food, we thought – Nothin’ doin’.

Registration and induction at 2:30 a.m. Went forward to desk as “head” of the family (of

two). Received assignment to quarters...

Well, we were led into our quarters wading through mud. We initiated our new home by

spattering mud all over it. We struggled with cots only to discover that one was torn and

terribly underslung. Sneaked into next unit and did a quick exchange job. Had to wait for


February 8. A call for Nisei volunteers into U.S. Army issued. A special combat unit is to be organized. Boy, how suddenly they put things like that before us. Propaganda will be to good purpose – isn’t that making us stomach all the sacrifices and no breaks? What of post war status? Where do Nisei soldiers “go home” – suppose enough don’t volunteer – they sure put us on the spot….Mrs. T. was already expressing anxiety for sons. Two are eligible.

March 16. Rain is nice – keeps the dust down. Victory gardens progressing, snakes are coming out of hibernation in woods. It’s a Rohwer custom to walk about with your nose to the ground – it may not improve your posture but you might find an agate, or some stone suitable for polishing. Other people with leisure time go cray-fishing with nets along the ditches.

March 18. Mr. M. and Mr. Y have made garden furniture of crooked limbs of trees. Don’t suppose it’s very comfortable. They look like the stuff in the “little crooked man” story. Some residents are attempting ponds and rockeries.

April 9. W.O. visited from Wyoming camp – he is a volunteer and is now making a round of some of the camps. He’s an idealistic sort of lad. A church go-er, whose father has been able to provide him with all advantages of an “American” life.

April 19. Received Norman Rockwell’s series “4 Freedoms” reprint in mail today….Went to canteen 3 times for some cake – missed out – only a little came in.

April 20. Appointment for work in Columbus came in today! Too elated to speak properly

Name: __________________________

Date: ___________________________

Teacher & Class: __________________

1. Who do you think wrote this diary entry?

Where was it written?
To what kind of “camp” do you think the author was referring?
2. What were the Four Freedoms to which President Roosevelt referred?

Why were these freedoms so important to the United States in the 1940s?

3. Use evidence from the “Diary of an Evacuee” to support or reject the statement, “Japanese Americans enjoyed the freedoms listed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his ‘Four Freedoms’speech.”

4. Do you think all Americans today have all of the freedoms that Roosevelt guaranteed?

Please give examples to support your answer.

Excerpt # 2

World War II reading: Japanese-Americans

'I was 10 years old and wearing my Cub Scout uniform when we were packed onto a train in San Jose,' recalls California Democratic Congressman Norman Mineta. 'People had to just padlock and walk away from their businesses-- they lost millions. After six months in a barracks at the Santa Anita Racetrack, we were sent to Heart Mountain, Wyo. We arrived in the middle of a blinding snowstorm, five of us children in our California clothes. When we got to our tar-paper barracks, we found sand coming in through the walls, around the windows, up through the floor.'

'The camp was surrounded by barbed wire. Guards with machine guns were posted at watchtowers, with orders to shoot anyone who tried to escape. Our own government put a yoke of disloyalty around our shoulders. But throughout our ordeal, we cooperated with the government because we felt that in the long run, we could prove our citizenship.'

Otto Frederick, "A Time of Agony for Japanese Americans," Time, vol. 138, no. 22 (December 2, 1991), p. 69.

Guidelines for Writing a News Article

A well-written news article should contain the following items:

  • Headline - Your headline should be a "hook" to grab the reader's attention

  • Byline - That's you!

  • Lead-in sentence for opening paragraph - Just like your headline, your lead-in sentence needs to be a "grabber."

  • Opening paragraph - Besides an interesting lead-in sentence, be sure to answer the following basic questions:

    • Who?

    • What happened?

    • When?

    • Where?

    • Why?

  • Supporting paragraphs - You will need one to three paragraphs that explain the details surrounding your photograph. What events lead up to the picture? Your details should be interesting and logically connected. What evidence can you add to support your statements? Quotations?

  • Effective closing paragraph - End with a summary of your main idea.
Remember: a news article is different from an essay. Report on what actually was happening . Be objective. Do not give the reader your personal opinions.


At the end of this lesson, students will be able to write a news article addressing ways in which the U.S. government failed to protect the Four Freedoms for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II.

Scoring Guide

Task: Write a speech for the 1941 presidential inauguration. Utilize Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” painting to examine and analyze President Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech. Using the student activity sheet “Excerpts from the Diary of an Evacuee” students must read the first excerpt from the diary and answer the questions.

Write a news article addressing the application of the four freedoms to Japanese Americans during WWII.

Standard Component: (H/SS 11.7) Analyze America's participation in World War II

Analyze content and context of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech.

(H/SS 10.8) Students analyze the causes and consequences of World War II

Describe the political, diplomatic and military leaders during the war (e.g., Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

(Reading Comprehension 2.2) Generate relevant questions, which can be researched.

(Writing Strategies 1.1 & 2.3) Establish coherent thesis, gather evidence in support.

Exemplary (Exceeds the Standard) 45-50 points:

  • All proficient criteria are met, plus:

  • Article explains what connections were important between the topic and the “Four Freedoms”.

  • Article contains multiple perspectives on the topic

Proficient (Meets the Standard) 40-44 points:

  • Article sets the context (explains background) for the topic

  • Article explains the significance of the topic to the “Four Freedoms”

  • Article format is correct

  • Few or no errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation

Progressing (Progressing Toward the Standard) 30-39 points:

  • At least 3 of the proficient criteria are met

  • Work contains numerous spelling and/or legibility errors

  • More work is needed

Not Yet Meeting the Standard 0-29 points:

  • Fewer than 2 of the proficient criteria are met

  • More work is needed

Peer Evaluation (Optional)

Teacher Evaluation

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