"Standing Up for Our Neighbors" Student Writing Lesson

Are you willing and brave enough to stand up against injustice? Describe what you would do, and how your actions might make a difference.
Japanese American Internment.jpg

How exactly do we “let it not happen again” when federal agents come for our neighbors? What can a community really do to guard civil liberties and lives?

Photo by by Dorothea Lange via NARA / Flickr

Students will read and respond to Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz’s article, “What Japanese Internment Taught Us About Standing Up for Our Neighbors.”

In this article, Tracy reflects on the meaning of the Japanese saying, nidoto nai yoni: “Let it not happen again,” and wonders what communities might do differently to protect the civil liberties of our vulnerable neighbors. Tracy is part of the Japanese American community on Bainbridge Island, Washington—the first community in the nation to be rounded up and sent to concentration camps during World War II.

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YES! Magazine Article and Writing Prompt

Read the YES! Magazine article by Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz, “What Japanese Internment Taught Us About Standing Up for Our Neighbors.”

 

Writing Prompt:

Think about someone in your school or community who is vulnerable and may need protection or support. This person may be a neighbor or a classmate— it may even be you. Are you willing and brave enough to stand up against injustice? Describe what you would do, and how your actions might make a difference.

 

Writing Guidelines

The writing guidelines below are intended to be just that—a guide. Please adapt to fit your curriculum.

· Provide an original essay title

· Reference the article

· Limit the essay to no more than 700 words

· Pay attention to grammar and organization

· Be original. provide personal examples and insights

· Demonstrate clarity of content and ideas

· This writing exercise meets several Common Core State Standards for grades 6-12, including W. 9-10.3 and W. 9-10.14 for Writing, and RI. 9-10 and RI. 9-10.2 for Reading: Informational Text.*

*This standard applies to other grade levels. "9-10" is used as an examples.

Evaluation Rubric

 

Sample Essays

The essays below were selected as winners for the Fall 2017 Student Writing Competition. Please use them as sample essays or mentor text. The ideas, structure, and writing style of these essays may provide inspiration for your own students' writing—and an excellent platform for analysis and discussion.

 

"It Would Mean the World to Me," by Ruby Rose Coney Wynne-Jones, grade 7. Read Ruby's essay about about not labeling students with dyslexia as stupid, and instead getting them the help they need.

"An Unanswered Cry for Help," by Alexandria Lutinski, grade 8. Read Alexandria’s essay about about living her own life after her snow globe world shatters.

"Bringing a Voice Back to Life," by Logan Bailey Crews, grade 11. Read Logan’s essay about about being pushed to the edge of the skyscraper in his head in the recent past, but focusing now on shattering the stigma of depression and mental illness at his school.

"Highs and Lows," by Aly Terry, grade 11. Read Aly’s essay about about how everyone can support people with bipolar disorder by helping them see not just the ups and downs, but all things beautiful in-between.

"Escaping the ‘Other’ Side," by Adithi Ramakrishnan, grade 12. Read Adithi’s essay about about embracing both her Indian and American roots—and how to get beyond unfriendly stares in public.

"To Know Her is to Love Her," by Amber Huff, university. Read Amber’s essay about what she found beneath the hoodie and ink-stained knuckles of a new library visitor.

 

We Want to Hear From You!

How do you see this lesson fitting in your curriculum? Already tried it? Tell us—and other teachers—how the lesson worked for you and your students.

Please leave your comments below, including what grade you teach.

 

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