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Unit 2, Lesson 5: Investigators at Work

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Journey to Topaz

By Yoshiko Uchida

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The fifth lesson involves students in the investigative portion of their work. Either through written materials provided by you or recommended websites (below), students collect the fact and details necessary for them to be able to analyze and then create solid arguments in a future lesson.

Materials & Resources Needed

Additional online resources

Recommended book

Fred Korematsu All American Hero
By Chandler and Sunder
ISBN 978-1-61163-00-8
Carolina Academic Press
Durham, North Carolina

Standards Addressed

History Social Science Content Standards (applicable grade level standards)

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.

Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Theatre, Creative Expression

Development of Theatrical Skills

Essential Questions


Through research and reading (materials provided from Korematsu Institute or the websites mentioned), students will understand the history of the internment and understand the decision made by Fred Korematsu and the tension presented due to his decision and the actions of the U.S. Government.

Students will analyze and categorize and evaluate their findings from research, and organize these facts and details and concepts on a handout


These objectives will be assessed through teacher observation of small and large group discussion, notes showing analysis and evaluation, interpretation of the investigation, and ability to see the tension between two sides of the case.  Students will be assessed by their ability to verbalize and categorize abstract and concrete thoughts on paper.


Quality Criteria:  Absolutely Almost Not Yet
Through research and reading (materials provided from Korematsu Institute or the websites mentioned), students will write notes demonstrating their understanding of the history of the internment.

Details will include facts about the decision made by Fred Korematsu and the tension presented due to his decision and the actions of the U.S. Government.

Dialogue and written notes will reflect this understanding of reading and research.

 Student uses analysis and evaluation from their research findings, synthesizing with facts from the case and seeing connection between the government’s actions and this part of the 5th Amendment.

Learning Activities (One or two 40–50 minute sessions)

Hook (5–10 minutes)

Review question: What is the 5th Amendment – at least the part of it that relates to the Korematsu case? Turn to a partner and discuss it. Share out. Prize: The most accurate sharing out gets to wear the “founders wig, Patriots hat and/or Kings Crown during this lesson. (You can use slide 12 to review with entire group)

Slides 12 & 13 (20 minutes, or more if necessary)

Hand out the Investigation Questions (PDF) that begin on Slide 12 and continue to Slide 13. Together you have already answered the first question.

Have students read the questions in pairs, and then research using reading materials you have given them, and/or recommended websites (under Materials & Resources above). Be sure they take notes with details for each question. Give them plenty of research and note-taking time for this. Hold a class discussion following the completion of these questions.

Slide 14 (20 minutes)

Following this research, discuss the questions on this slide:

What would Korematsu’s lawyers argue based on the law and the 5th Amendment?

What would the government argue based on the law and the fifth Amendment?

Have them turn to their “In Your Own Words” completed handout (PDF from lesson 4), to remind themselves of their understanding of this part of the 5th Amendment. After this analysis discuss the answers in small groups. And then share out with entire group and fill in a T-Chart, or use the Analysis Handout (PDF) with students that look at both sides of the issue. Have students write notes in preparation for their argument writing.

Some examples of arguments in support of the legality and need for Executive Order 9066:

5th Amendment: Exception in “time of war”, “military necessity”, “public danger”, claim of espionage and sabotage, government claimed there had been acts of espionage …some even argued public danger to the Japanese due to the fear and hysteria. Other facts not dealing with the amendment: Public pressure, General DeWitt’s insistence.

Some examples of arguments against the need for Executive Order 9066:

5th amendment: The right of “life, liberty, and property”, due process not observed. Others found arguments in the 4th amendment, illegal search and seizure, right to a trial by jury. Some students discover that the 14th amendment (even though not part of the Bill of Rights) calls for equal protection under the law. Korematsu was never questioned regarding his loyalty to the US. claim that this is an over reaction and has to do with racial prejudice. Korematsu was an American citizen, born on American soil.

Closure (5 minutes)

They will be assigned clients soon, either representing the defendants, the government, or Fred Korematsu, the plaintiff; they must have strong facts and details to write their arguments to present in “court”.