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Japanese-American Relations during World War II

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The version of ​Unbroken that ​EL Education referenced when writing the original module lessons (in 201​3​) has been replaced by the less expensive paperback edition. This chart provides a lesson-by-lesson cross walk between the pagination in the original module lessons (based on the ​hardcover version of the text) and the pagination based on the ​paperback edition​ of the text (ISB​N​ #​9780812974492).​

If you would like to update the pagination on the "Reading Calendar" in the Module Overview, please refer to the repagination chart ​found here.

In this module, students will study Japanese-American relations during World War II. They will consider the question “How does war affect individuals and societies?” as they read case studies about the plight of Japanese-Americans interned on American soil and American prisoners of war held captive in Japan during World War II. The central texts are Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and a short biography of Miné Okubo, a Japanese-American interned during the war. As students read both of these pieces of literary nonfiction, they will consider how the narrative structure can communicate real events in a compelling manner. In Unit 1, students will build background knowledge as they consider the causes of Japanese and American involvement in World War II focusing on the war in the Pacific. They will begin by studying the attack on Pearl Harbor, considering conflicting accounts of this pivotal event.

In Unit 2, students will analyze case studies of Louie Zamperini (in Unbroken) and Miné Okubo to explore the thematic concept of resisting “invisibility” while being held captive. Students also will read primary source documents related to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Finally, in Unit 3, students will finish reading Unbroken and study a second thematic concept: the journey of the imprisoned or interned to becoming “visible” after release. Students will research Miné Okubo’s life after internment; and for their final performance task, the will write a narrative in which they tell the story of how she went from being made “invisible” during internment to becoming “visible” post-internment. This module is content-rich; consider previewing the full module with a social studies colleague and finding ways to collaborate to provide an even richer experience.


Each module is approximately 8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How does war and conflict affect individuals and societies?
  • How do historians/readers reconcile multiple accounts of the same event?
  • How can narrative be used to communicate real events?
  • How does captivity make the captive invisible?
  • How can individuals become visible again?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using different media?
  • The war affected both ordinary Japanese-Americans and American prisoners of war in life-changing ways.
  • War and conflict bring important yet divergent experiences to individuals and societies.
  • There are important yet divergent experiences in war and conflict.

Content Connections

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


Texts to Buy

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

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

Texts included in the module

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
“Riverside’s Miné Okubo,”
by Mary H. Curtin
Splinters-Splinters (blog), 2011
“Miné Okubo,” Voices from the Gaps,
by Chelsie Hanstad, Louann Huebsch, Danny Kantar, and Kathryn Siewert
University of Minnesota, 2004
“The Life of Miné Okubo,” written by Expeditionary Learning for instructional purposes.
by Expeditionary Learning
Expeditionary Learning,
Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Executive Order No. 9066,” Feb. 19, 1942.
by Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The Fifth Column on the Coast,” The Washington Post, Feb. 12, 1942.
by Walter Lippmann
The Washington Post, 1942
The Report on Japanese on the West Coast of the United States (“the Munson Report”), Oct. 7, 1941.
by Curtis B. Munson
the Munson Report, 1941
“Day of Infamy” speech, delivered Dec. 8, 1941, as found at
by Franklin D. Roosevelt
“War in the Pacific”
by Edison McIntyre
Cobblestone (Vol. 15, Issue 1), 1994
“Fourteen-Part Message”
by Japanese Foreign Ministry


CCS Standards: Reading—LiteratureLong-Term Learning Targets
  • RL.8.3. Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
  • I can analyze how specific dialogue or incidents in a plot propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
CCS Standards: Informational TextLong-Term Learning Targets
  • RI.8.1. Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • I can cite text-based evidence that provides the strongest support for an analysis of literary text.
  • RI.8.2. Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • I can determine a theme or the central ideas of an informational text.
  • I can analyze the development of a theme or central idea throughout the text (including its relationship to supporting ideas).
  • I can objectively summarize informational text.
  • RI.8.3. Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
  • I can analyze the connections and distinctions between individuals, ideas or events in a text.
  • RI.8.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
  • I can determine the meaning of words and phrases in text (figurative, connotative, and technical meanings).
  • I can analyze the impact of word choice on meaning and tone (analogies or allusions).
  • RI.8.6. Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
  • I can determine an author’s point of view or purpose in informational text.
  • I can analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
  • RI.8.7. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different media (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
  • I can evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different media to present an idea. 
  • RI.8.9. Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.
  • I can analyze texts for disagreement on facts or interpretation.
  • RI.8.10. By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • I can read grade-level informational texts proficiently and independently.
  • I can read above-grade informational texts with scaffolding and support.
CCS Standards: WritingLong-Term Learning Targets
  • W.8.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

a. Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
b. Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
c. Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
e. Establish and maintain a formal style.
f. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.

  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • W.8.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

a. Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
c. Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.
d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
e. Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.

  • I can write narrative texts about real or imagined experiences using relevant details and event sequences that make sense.
  • W.8.9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

a. Apply grade 8 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new”).
b. Apply grade 8 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., “Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced”).

  • I can use evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • W.8.11a Create a presentation, artwork, or text in response to a literary work, with a commentary that identifies and explains divergences from the original.

a. Make well-supported personal, cultural, textual, and thematic connections across genres. (W.8.11a)
b. Create poetry, stories, plays, and other literary forms (e.g. videos, art work

  • I can support the personal, cultural, textual, and thematic connections I make across genres.
CCS Standards: Speaking & ListeningLong-Term Learning Targets
  • SL.8.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
b. Follow rules for collegial discussions and decision-making, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
c. Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.
d. Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.

  • I can effectively engage in discussions with diverse partners about eighth-grade topics, texts, and issues.
  • I can express my own ideas clearly during discussions.
  • I can build on others’ ideas during discussions.
CCS Standards: LanguageLong-Term Learning Targets
  • L.8.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

a. Explain the function of verbals (gerunds, participles, infinitives) in general and their function in particular sentences.
b. Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice.
c. Form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood.
d.Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood.*

  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • L.8.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

a. Use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break.
b. Use an ellipsis to indicate an omission.
c. Spell correctly.

  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling to send a clear message to my reader.
  • L.8.3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

a. Use verbs in the active and passive voice and in the conditional and subjunctive mood to achieve particular effects (e.g., emphasizing the actor or the action; expressing uncertainty or describing a state contrary to fact).

  • I can intentionally use verbs in active and passive voice and in the conditional and subjunctive mood.
  • L.8.5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

a. Interpret figures of speech (e.g., verbal irony, puns) in context.
b. Use the relationship between particular words to better understand each of the words.
c. Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions) (e.g., bullheaded, willful, firm, persistent, resolute).

  • I can analyze figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

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