Literary Analysis & Immigration Lesson: Emma Lazarus "The New Colossus"

Grade Levels
9th - 12th
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Google Apps™
  • Internet Activities
8 pages
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Includes Google Apps™
The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).


Do you want to deepen your students' understanding of the immigration experience?

Questions on two poems about immigration and the America dream will get your students doing close reading and literary analysis of poetic elements, as well as deeper thinking and discussion about the themes and big ideas of the poems.

In these two poems, Emma Lazarus and Adrienne Rich present parallel views of the immigrant experience. Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” has the well-known quote that is associated with the Statue of Liberty: "“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” In fact, a plaque engraved with this poem has been placed inside the famous statue. Rich’s modern poem “Prospective Immigrants Please Note” is more ambivalent in its portrayal of the immigrant experience.

Included in this resource:

--6 pre-reading writing prompts to get students thinking about big ideas and issues

--four full pages of questions for close reading and analysis on both poems

--an answer key to all questions

--the text of the first poem

-- ready-to-go instructions, links, handouts, and forms all optimized for Google Classroom

Rich's poem is not included because of copyright.

Pairings: These poems could be used with many texts that deal with the American Dream or immigration. Suggestions include: My Antonia, The Joy Luck Club, The Fortunate Pilgrim, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Warrior Woman, and The Namesake.

Total Pages
8 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 hour
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.
Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.


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