In 1-to-1 classroom settings (with iPad or iPhone), East of the Rockies offers a way for students to connect with and reflect on the internment of Japanese Canadian residents and citizens during World War II. It can offer an introduction to the history of internment or add an additional layer to a previous lesson. Due to the user-friendly design, students can and should proceed and progress at their own pace. This will take some time -- well over 30 minutes from start to finish, depending on how quickly students click through. Also note that the story addresses tough topics like racism, death (including a miscarriage), and discrimination.
Here are some ideas for how to support students' learning:
- To assess learning and encourage reflection, provide quick-write or small group discussion prompts at the end of each of the three stages.
- Use double-entry journaling to get students to pause and reflect on powerful or meaningful quotes they come across, and better process the content.
- Get students to more deeply analyze primary source documents they find using a graphic organizer.
- If your students have already -- or will later -- learn about Japanese American internment, have them use a concept map -- like a Venn diagram or double bubble -- to process the similarities and differences between the two events.
In addition to ideas above, the East of the Rockies website offers downloadable lesson plans and supplemental resources.Continue reading Show less
East of the Rockies is a story-driven iOS app about Japanese Canadian internment camps during WWII. It uses augmented reality (AR) to bring the story and journal of Yuki, a 17-year-old second-generation Japanese Canadian (or Nisei), to life. Yuki's story was written by author and activist Joy Kogawa, a former internee.
The experience is told from the perspective of Yuki's journal (via voice and text-based narration), as the player looks down on diorama-like settings from before, during, and after her family's forced relocation to Slocan internment camp. It may feel slow for some students, since it's guided by the methodical and poetic narration of Yuki's journal. However, this pace allows students to reflect and process the meaning of the scenes. As the story progresses, players interact with various objects in the world -- for example, playing a record or packing a suitcase. To supplement the journal, students unlock access to primary source photos, letters, newspaper clippings, and more. These provide more in-depth historical information and context.
This is a excellent choice for educators wanting to give their students a deeper perspective on WWII internment camps. Teachers can trust that Joy Kogawa's writing, which comes from personal experience, offers a sensitive perspective on this tragic and shameful event in Canadian (and U.S.) history. While it's slow and deliberate -- and could challenge kids' attention spans -- it's also highly accessible due to the AR interactivity, captioned voice narration, and pause feature. The story offers compelling and touching details that will hopefully help students relate. Still, while Yuki's story is interesting (and relatable, given that she's 17), it would've been nice to get a little more insight into the other characters' perspectives. However, it's ultimately understandable, given the focus on Yuki's journal.
The learning feels multidimensional, as every interaction uncovers new layers of learning: from just interacting with an object and learning about it to completing mini-activities like packing a suitcase, tending to crops on a farm, or chopping carrots. While these things might seem trivial, they help build empathy and provide variety. This style of light interactivity serves the story well (keeping it from getting too game-like and undermining the message), but some students might think it's too simplistic and yearn for a bit more. With teacher support, however, they'll hopefully respect what the experience is trying to accomplish and why it's designed the way it is.
Key Standards Supported
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Use parallel structure.*
Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
Use a semicolon (and perhaps a conjunctive adverb) to link two or more closely related independent clauses.
Use a colon to introduce a list or quotation.
Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
Write and edit work so that it conforms to the guidelines in a style manual (e.g., MLA Handbook, Turabian’s Manual for Writers) appropriate for the discipline and writing type.
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9–10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or text; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
Identify and correctly use patterns of word changes that indicate different meanings or parts of speech (e.g., analyze, analysis, analytical; advocate, advocacy).
Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning, its part of speech, or its etymology.
Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Interpret figures of speech (e.g., euphemism, oxymoron) in context and analyze their role in the text.
Analyze nuances in the meaning of words with similar denotations.
Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
Reading Informational Text
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
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.
Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
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.
Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept.
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.
Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
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.
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.
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.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington’s Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”), including how they address related themes and concepts.
By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
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