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Unit 2, Lesson 4: Yuki’s Study & the 5th Amendment

Featured Text for This Unit

Journey to Topaz

By Yoshiko Uchida

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The fourth lesson reviews the Bill of Rights through a Reader’s Theatre (Scene 1). Students have the opportunity to begin analyzing and evaluating the 5th Amendment as it relates to the Japanese Internment.

Materials & Resources Needed

Standards Addressed

History Social Science Content Standards (applicable grade level standards)

4.5.3: Describe the similarities (e.g., written documents, rule of law, consent of the governed, three separate branches) and differences….among federal state, and local governments.

5.7.5: Discuss the meaning of the American creed that calls on citizens to safeguard the liberty of individual Americans within a unified nation, to respect the rule of law, and to preserve the Constitution.

8.2.2: Students analyze the political principles underling the U.S. Constitution and compare the enumerated and implied powers of the federal government.

11.7.5: Students analyze American’s participation in World War II.  Discuss the constitutional issues and impact of events on the U.S. home front, including the internment of Japanese Americans (e.g., Fred Korematsu v. United States of America).

Suggested K-12 Pathway for College, Career, and Civic Readiness

Dimension 2, Participation and Deliberation

By the end of Grade 5:
By the end of Grade 8:
By the end of Grade 12:

Dimension 2, Processes, Rules, and Laws

By the end of Grade 5:
By the end of grade 8:
By the end of Grade 12:

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening K-12 *

*(See specific grade level CCSS within these subtitles that provide developmentally appropriate details)

Comprehension and Collaboration

  1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  1. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading K-12

Key Ideas and Details

  1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure

  1. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  1. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

Essential Questions


Through interpretation and analysis of reading, and inferences from primary sources, students will determine themes present within the period of time of the Japanese Interment.

Students will demonstrate their ability to collaborate and build on others ideas as they draw conclusions regarding the principles of the 5th Amendment, the role of the branches of government and the rights of citizens.

Students will stay in character as they perform a reader’s theatre that reviews the Bill of Rights.


These objectives will be assessed through teacher observation of small and large group discussion, notes showing analysis and evaluation, and interpretation of the 5th Amendment.


 Quality Criteria:  Absolutely Almost Not Yet
Student collaborates by listening to others ideas, analyzing and making inferences from discussion based on reading and understanding of the 5th amendment through written interpretation as well.
 Student understands the structure of the courts, as evidenced by statements and reasons for the Korematsu case to take place in the federal court.
Students will portray their part of the reader’s theatre in character with expression.

Learning Activities

Hook ( 2 minutes)

Today we will be actors, taking our story back to 1944 when Yuki returned to school following her family’s internment in Topaz. Please remember: When cases go to court, decisions are made by the courts based on the Rule of Law, which comes from the State Constitution or the Federal Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We will not review our entire Constitutions, but we will review the first ten Bill of Rights from the U.S. Constitution using Reader’s Theatre.

Reader’s Theatre: Scene 1 (15 minutes)

Yuki has just returned from the Internment Camp and is back at a school where they are studying the Bill of Rights. Note: You may have students write their own short summary of each amendment within the Bill of Rights, or use the script provided (PDF). Depending on your class size and abilities, you may group students in groups of 14 so that everyone has a part and they all perform their reader’s theatre at one time. Remind them to use expression, and to stay in *character.

*A lesson on character development is available in Unit 1: No, David!

Slide 11: Fifth Amendment (20 minutes)

(From Unit 2 PowerPoint)

Read this part of the 5th Amendment and discuss the meaning with the students — what does this mean? Note: Due process of law means that rules and laws must be followed so that everyone is treated equally, both when they have been accused of a crime, and when they go through the court procedures. People may not be locked up without being legally accused of a crime, with sufficient evidence against them.

Use the handout “In your own words” (PDF) and have students complete the meaning of the 5th Amendment independently or in pairs. Have them put this in their folders for the next lesson and use in their investigation. (Please remember: This PowerPoint is only part of the 5th Amendment — the part that most closely relates to the Korematsu case.)

Court Systems ( 5 minutes)

When finished with In Your Own Words, remind students that we have two court systems:  federal and state, and three levels within the courts … see what students can remember. Go back to PowerPoint Slide 8 which gives the visual of the Structure of the Courts and ask more leading questions, ie: which court did Korematsu begin with — why? (Federal court because the U.S. Government was taken to court, an Executive Order is from the President of the United States called for the internment, not the state.) You will learn more in your investigation about other reasons why this was a federal case in the next lesson. The first time Korematsu went to court, he began at the first level, the U.S. District Court.


Let your students know that they are to be very careful and thoughtful investigators; ask what they think an investigator does. In the next lesson, they will work to gain as much knowledge as they can — they must know the facts of the case. They will take their findings, write and present arguments as lawyers very soon…

So far, they do not know which side they must argue. Whichever side they are assigned, they must be able to back up the argument with important details and historical facts, and relate those facts to Constitutional law and important facts and details about the case.