Mrs. Zink’s classes impress as they demonstrate knowledge of Japanese American internment during World War II

By Victoria Tsygan
FMS Dragon News reporter


FMS Dragon News reporter Victoria Tsygan heard that Mrs. Zink’s 8th grade GT Language Arts class did some impressive research to better understand their reading of the memoir Farewell to Manzanar. Victoria sat with Mrs. Zink to get the details.


Mrs. Zink, I heard your class did a really cool project. Tell us about it.

Some of the groups in my GT Language Arts class did jigsaw research necessary to understand the setting of the historical nonfiction novel Farewell to Manzanar.  The different groups within the classes developed PowerPoints, and then supplemented them with things like their own skits, radio announcements, a memory quilt, handouts, musical accompaniment, and videos to provide needed information for the understanding of World War II internment camps and their impact on the culture of Japanese Americans.


Can you tell us more about some of the examples of what they did?

(A group) had an FDR speech and they all wore FDR masks as they each read a portion of his “Day of Infamy” speech, which was his declaration of war to congress on December 8th, 1941. That one was very powerful because each group member had a portion of the speech, and was very focused on it, so the right emphasis was placed. You got some of the power of that speech.

We had some who did Executive Order 9066. This was the creation of the Japanese American internment camps, which was a sad chapter, and it resulted in the internment of actual US citizens – Japanese Americans who were perceived as possible threats on the basis of passing information to Japan based on ancestry and loyalty. None of this proved to be true. They were confined – 121, 000 (people) in the 1940’s in the course of World War II.

One of the groups made a memory quilt. They used a fabric background. They put different portions on it – the actual executive order that was signed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing it, pictures from Ansel Adams, as taken in some of these internment camps, along with the actual posting of mandatory evacuation with the noted dates.


Another group used audio?

A speech was done by those who used Pearl Harbor. I broke them into five groups. One was Pearl Harbor, which was an unprovoked attack by the Japanese on the naval base at Pearl Harbor.  It resulted in a high level of public sentiment and emotion. In turn, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which created the Internment camps.

A group looked at internment camps in general – boundaries, restrictions, etc. The fourth group zeroed in on one camp in particular, Manzanar, the camp that is featured in the memoire of Jeanne Wakatsuki  Houston.

The fifth group focused on culture because the values of this group of people were tremendously impacted by the confinement and internment experience. It resulted in the deterioration of some family values and customs which were really essential to their culture. Within culture, we learned about the importance of nature and simplicity. Some students did lanterns. They made origami lanterns.  We all did it. We used the Japanese alphabet that was also presented to put certain words such as good fortune, beautiful, laughter, friendship and life.  We’ve got them all around the room.

We also had an origami demonstration. They made a samurai helmet.  The Samurai was a very prestigious class within ancient Japan.  Actually, it wasn’t that ancient because the main character (in the book), his father’s family came from the Samurai class. We also had swans and lotus flowers.

We also had pictures from the National Archives that the kids researched. These pictures were taken by Ansel Adams. They’re black and white photos of life within the camps. The kids went through the National Archives files and were able to access these pictures, and they presented them.


It sounds like a lot of work.

All the groups did a PowerPoint, but then they supplemented it with all this added information and extended effort. The entire project, all the pieces of the jigsaw, really gave a complete picture of that time and that group, and the affect on that group.


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