Emma Lazarus The New Colossus Statue of Liberty Poetry Analysis

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18 Ratings
Let's Cultivate Greatness
Grade Levels
8th - 11th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
6 pages
Let's Cultivate Greatness


Deeply analyze Emma Lazarus’s famous poem and connect to its larger historical context of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the “New” immigrants, and America’s melting pot with this everything's-included, no-prep lesson.


Greatness is appreciating the layers of poetic word in expressing a complex idea.

A poem written as a favor to raise money for a pedestal on which to display an unbelievable gift from France.

The iconic poem that almost wasn’t written.

Take your students to the backstory of Emma’s inspiration, the poetic lens on which she saw this gift, and the lasting legacy these simply lines have had on not just the Statue of Liberty, but also the meaning of America.

Introduce your students to an in-depth, yet easy way in which to examine poetry, using the DECODE method:



Change, continuity, contrast, compare

Outside information

Denotation, connotation


Included in this complete lesson:

  • Lesson overview and detailed step-by-step teacher plans
  • Statue of Liberty image handout for prior knowledge brainstorm
  • Statue of Liberty and Colossus of Rhodes image handout for comparison activity
  • “The New Colossus” text with ample annotating space
  • Suggested teacher key
  • -DECODE Poetry Source Analysis handout that works with ANY historical poem


Want to make this into a full unit?

Want more turn-of-the-century primary source analysis?

  • Gilded Age Labor: hear the voices of those who felt unheard in this age of wealth.
  • Progressive Era: learn how enough passion can turn anyone into an agent of change.
  • Gilded Age: debate if Carnegie’s gospel of wealth makes society better.
  • Civil Rights: compare Du Bois & Washington arguments for the same goal- equality.

Ready to upgrade your impact this year?

Purchase the U.S. History Thematic PBLBundle and teach this inquiry-driven and project-based semester course with confidence!


This listing is for one license for regular, non-commercial classroom use by a single teacher only. Commercial use like online teaching (ex. Outschool) or sharing with other teachers (ex. shared drive, in a Facebook group, in a professional development training) is strictly prohibited.

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Total Pages
6 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 hour
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
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 theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
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 theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail 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.


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