Oral History, Political Cartoons, and Literacy
Oral Histories, Poltical Cartoon Analysis, & Literacy Strategies
"We are what we pretend to be, therefore we must be careful what we pretend to be." - Kurt Vonnegut

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An Oral History: A WWII Japanese Interment Camp Survivor (Camp Minidoka, Idaho)
Library of Congress: Japanese Immigration to USA
Commodore Perry's account of Japan
Overview of Meiji Era Japan
Primary Source: Kuma Kinatake visit to San Francisco
Battle of Port Arthur
Sino-Russo War
The Gentleman's Agreement
Theodore Roosevelt and the threat of Japanese Imperialism
Japanese-American relations: Early 20th Century
Library of Congress: Oral Histories of the Great Depression
December 7th, 1941: The attack on Pearl Harbor
USS Arizona National Memorial
Executive Order #9066
Tacoma, Washington Evacuation Order
Harry Cain (Mayor of Tacoma)
Earl Warren & the Japanese Internment Camps
PBS: Korematsu vs. United States
NY Times: The Aftermath of WWII and the lessons of Fear
Camp Harmony (Puyallup, Washington)
Camp Minidoka (Idaho) Japanese Iternment Camp
Camp Rupert (German POW camp WWII)
442 Regimental Combat Team
President Ford proclaims an end to #9066
National Japanese-American Memorial to Patriotism: Our story
Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory
Web Archive & Digital History
Photo Archive of Internment Camps

                Using Oral Histories, Political Cartoons, and Literacy Strategies
                                            in support of Social Studies Instruction

Website mission: The purpose of this web-page is to facilitate the integration of hands-on critical thinking activities within the Social Studies classroom.  The site has direct links to historical resources such as The National Archives and The Library of Congress.  The main, or the middle, section of the site is an actual classroom lesson that integrates the Oral History of a survivor of Camp Minidoka, a WWII Japanese internment camp, with primary sources and political cartoons.  The lesson walks the instructor through the process, from the research phase and the Interview to the final assessment - the creation of a political cartoon, or position paper, that answers an essential or compelling question.

Table of Contents:
I) Instructional overview: This section provides an overview of the process for an instructor utilizing an Oral History within the classroom setting
II) Model Lesson: An interview with a survivor of Camp Minidoka, a World War Two Japanese-American internment camp
        a) Opening Lesson: A Snippet of History...Creating a transcript of an Oral History
        b) Main Activity: From December 6th, 1941 to Camp Minidoka
III) Assessing the Instructional and Learning Process:  Creating a Political Cartoon Assessment or Position Paper       

Lesson Plan/Instructional Overview:
From the Interview to the Classroom
1) Identifying the Interview topic/subject
  • ensure that the Interview relates to the GPS Standards
  • aim to connect the Interview with relevant content from the student's daily life & current events
2) The Student Researcher
  • have the students generate questions for the interview
  • Homework (front-loading), Bell Ringer, Group Brain Storming, and Class List
3) How to Conduct the Interivew
  • conduct pre-Interview research, communication with the subject (discuss audio and/or video interview), and prioritize Questions
  • Provide overview of the interview with Herb Ueda (WWII Japanese internment camp survivor of Camp Minidoka, Idaho) & historical connections/background
  • Always have more questions than time allows
  • Allow the subject of the interview to guide the discussion - follow their lead
  • Stay on track
4) Breaking down and anlayzing the Interview (can be conducted in either individual or collaborative instructional settings)
  • Privacy concerns (permissions needed to protect privacy of the interview subject)
  • Create a transcript & note log of the interview
  • Record times of moments in the interview that "peaked your interest"
  • Connect segments of the interview to GPS standards and historical content (utilize US Gen History vocab list)
  • Presentation of the Interview as an Instructional Tool: Snippets vs. Full Interview
Modeling an Oral History
An Interview with a Japanese Internment Camp Survivor

Georgia Performance Standards
United States History (SSUSH): 6e; 7a & 7b;  11a & 11b; 14 a & c; 15c; 17a + 17c; 19b, & 19f
World History (SSWH): 11a; 15c + d; 16a; 17c + f; 18a + d; & 21a

Compelling Question:
“How can students use the study of a historical character, such as Mr. Herb Ueda, to enhance their ability to critically assess their connections
between the past and today's life stories?”

1) Opening Activity: A Snippet of History....Creating a Transcript of an Oral History
  • How to identify "what was said"
  • Class-wide activity: listen to a 2 - 4 minute clip and create a transcription of the interview segment
        Step #1: Listen to the interview clip (8:49 to 11:45)

        Segment #1: Dad, WWI, and his citizenship
        Herb Ueda Interview: June 29th, 2016

        Step #2: Create written transcript of questions and answers
        Step #3: Create a list of outside historical information that is connected to the interview segment
  • Review as a class and assess the preparedness of the students for the main transciption session
        Step #4: Review as a class and discuss (work through inconsistent transcriptions & discuss historical connections)
        Step #5: Create an official class transcript of interview segment #1

2) Main Activity: From December 6th, 1941 to Camp Minidoka
        Step #1: Create groups for transcription activity (groups of 3 - 4 students per group)
        Step #2: Create roles for each member of the group (group leader; researcher, & main scribe)
        Step #3: Distribute Historical artifacts & Analysis Tools
                        - Analyzing Oral History
                        - Analyzing Political Cartoons
                        - Executive Order #9066
                        - Evacuation Order for Tacoma, Washington residents
                        - Dr. Seuss Poltical Cartoon: Japanese internment camp
        Step #4: Distribute Oral History & Literacy Activity
                        - Each student must identify the phrase or historical term from the interview segment
                        - Students must create a 30 - 50 word written description that identifies
                                a) The role that the term or the phrase plays within the interview
                                b) The historical context of the term or phrase as related to the larger historical setting (connection to GPS standards)
        Step #5: Listen to Interview Clip #2 (From Tacoma to Camp Minidoka)

        Herb Ueda interview June 29th, 2016

        Step #6: Create Transcript of Segment #2
                - Students work as a group to create rough outline of the Interview segment
                - Students use the transcription of the interview segment to complete Historical Analysis & Historical Literacy activity
        Step #7: Creating Historical Literacy
                Key Historical Phrases and terms from Interview:
                - That's the way it was back then...
                - Truck farm....
                - Executive Order #9066
                - crystal set
                - Harry Cain, Mayor of Tacoma 1941 - 1942
                - The Governor of California and future Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court
                - Bainbridge Island camp
                - It was our turn...
                - Camp Harmony
                - incarceration & concentration camp
                - My father had a stroke...
        Step #8: Groups present transcription & written descriptions
                - utilize the Promothean board & Document camera to have each group write out/present their descriptions
                - review and discuss as a class
        Step #9: Create class set of historical descriptions
                - combine the individual group descriptions to create a Final set of class descriptions for each term & phrase
        Step #10: De-brief

Assessing Learning:
Creating an authentic assessment via a Political Cartoon or 1 page Position Paper
        Step #1: How to Analyze a political cartoon
                - provide a sample political catoon (pick one that is relevant, or near a recent focus on instruction)
                - have the students follow a 3 step process to analyzing the cartoon and determing its intended meaning/message
                        a) Items/Objects: have the students write down every Item/Object that they see in the image
                        b) Symbols: identify potential symbols in the cartoon ( Flag = USA; tuxedo = wealthy; strong arm = power)
                        c) Meaning: the students are to generate a 30 - 40 word written description that analyzes the meaning/message
        Step 2: Creating a political Cartoon that answers an Essential or Compelling Question


Library of Congress: Analyzing Oral Histories
This guide can be utilized to teach students K - 12 how to interpret and understand Oral Histories.
Analyzing Oral Histories Teacher's Guide
Story Corps
This site provides a provide free tool for teachers to create their own Oral Histories and to upload them directly to the Library of Congress.
Story Corps website
Lesson: Analyzing Political Cartoons
This lesson guides you throught the integration of political cartoons in a Standards Based/Common Core classroom.
Lesson: Analyzing Political Cartoons
The National Archives: Analyzing Political Cartoons Worksheet
This worksheet can be utilized to teach students K - 12 how to interpret and understand political cartoons and historical documents.
The National Archives: Analyzing Political Cartoons Worksheet
Political Cartoon Interpretation: Terror or Terrible?
This document discusses the importance of fair and balanced instruction of political cartoons.
Political Cartoon Interpretation: Terror or Terrible?
Political Cartoon Assignment Rubric
This rubric was created by Dougas L. Dakin. It is designed to assess and analyze the effectiveness and historical accuracy of a political cartoon. If you have any questions or comments please email:
Rubric: Grading a Political Cartoon
National Park Service: Camp Minidoka & Constitutional Issues Lesson Plan
This link direct an instructor to a complete Unit Plan that will link the history of Camp Minidoka with real world Constitutional issues and concerns.
Constitutional Issues: Civil liberties, Individuals, and the Common Good Unit Plan

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 Last Modified: 3 August,2016