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A Question of Loyalty
By Dawniell Black



To review standards, see the California Department of Education’s website: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ .

Historical and Social Sciences Analytical Skills Standard:  Students will demonstrate an ability to use historical and social analysis skills.

  • Students will demonstrate the skills necessary for chronological and spatial thinking.
  • Students will demonstrate skills necessary for historical research, evidence and point of view
  • Students will demonstrate the skills necessary for historical interpretation.

Curriculum Standard 11.7.5:  Students will discuss the constitutional issues and impact of the internment of Japanese Americans

TIME REQUIRED: One block (94 minutes) or two 55 minute periods.



  • Students will collect, evaluate and employ information about the Japanese internment from internet based oral histories, primary sources and secondary sources.
  • Students will identify the social, economic and political consequences of Japanese Americans based on their responses to specific questions of the US Loyalty Questionnaire based on oral histories, primary sources and secondary sources.
  • Students will evaluate, analyze and describe the constitutional issues involved in the internment of Japanese Americans and the impact of internment on American history.



  • What were the constitutional issues involving the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II?
  • What was the impact of Japanese internment on the people, communities and country?

This lesson fits into a curriculum unit on World War II.  Prior to this lesson the students will have after discussing the significance of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Students also become familiar with Executive Order 9066 through a found poem activity.  I also had the students watch “Here in America” a 14-minute video that discusses the key events of Japanese Internment and also includes information about the treatment of Arab Americans after 9-11.  Finally, I did a mini-lecture overview of the events that led up to the internment of the Japanese providing a detailed Power Point timeline.  Students should have some basic historical knowledge about the internment-based lesson plan so be sure that you choose a location that can meet the needs of your students.  Most labs have fewer computers than students so you may want to have students do the first few activities with a partner and the final assessment individually

The students should receive the A Question of Loyalty Handout #1.  The Active Reading Activity presents a scenario for students set in the present day and requires the student to respond in writing.  The scenario follows what happened to the Japanese and leads them to the heart of the lesson, which is what do to when your loyalty is questioned.


  1. Complete the Anticipatory Set with your students.  Students can do a pair/share after they have written their responses and you might even conduct a class survey to determine who would sign the loyalty oath and who would burn the loyalty oath.
  2. The Question of Loyalty Activity requires a computer.  If you have access to computer lab, then students can complete the active alone at a terminal or with a partner, if you do not have access to a computer lab but have a computer and a projector in your class room the activities can be completed as a whole class.
  3. Distribute A Question of Loyalty Handout #2 to the students.  Depending on the class, you can determine how much scaffolding you would like to include with regards to directions and also whether or not students are working individually or as a class.
  4. After the students have finished the assignment, allow them time to debrief the assignment, either with a partner or with the whole class, to discuss their comments, questions and reflections about the oral histories.
  5. Distribute A Question of Loyalty Handout #3 to the students.  Read the background as a class, the activity can be completed as homework, in the computer lab or in a one classroom computer with a projector.  Allow time for students to verbally debrief the activity when it is completed.
  6. Distribute A Question of Loyalty Handout #4 to the students.  This activity does not require a computer.  Students will analyze two documents related to Nisei draft resistors. 
  7. As a concluding piece, revisit the guiding questions and have the students orally or in writing answer the two questions presented, using evidence from the previous four activities.


Extension activities are listed on the reflection paper format and include:

  • Write a letter 3-5 paragraph letter of support as a non-Japanese American in 1944 to those who are resisting the draft.
  • Using the interviews and photos available on the website www.bestnetsacramento.org/tor write a one-page biography of one of the interviewees.
  • Using the interviews and photos available on the website www.bestnetsacramento.org/tor write ten questions that you would have liked to ask the survivors of internment camps in order to learn more about their experience.
  • Using the interviews and photos available on the website www.bestnetsacramento.org/tor create an 8X11 illustration of one of the events that took place during evacuation, relocation or in the camps.

Differentiation Activities:

  • Students can work in pairs.
  • Allow students with internet access to complete portions of the assignment at home if they need more time to take notes.
  • Allow students who may have difficulty with the writing assessment to turn in one of the extension activities as an alternative assignment.


  • Students will be evaluated based on the completion of the activities and participation in class discussions.


© 2005 Elk Grove Unified School District