English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
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  • Grade 12 ELA
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    The New Colossus Poem By Emma Lazarus

    The New Colossus Poem By Emma Lazarus


    Is immigration reform necessary? In this lesson, students will revise their narratives for sentence variety and proofread them. They’ll read Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus” and discuss what the poem says about immigrants. They’ll write about current issues regarding immigration.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.

    Fear Narrative

    • Ask students to read through their essays for clarity and coherence of ideas.


    • Proofread your fear narrative.

    Fear Narrative Feedback

    • Give students around 15 minutes to work with the suggestions for editing their narratives for sentence lengths, sentence patterns, and variety and specificity of language.
      • SWD: Be sure that all SWDs are engaging in the activity successfully. If some students need support, consider grouping those who need extra help, since editorial feedback can be hard to give.
    • Let students know that their final essays, revised, edited, and proofread, must be submitted to you before Lesson 18.

    Work Time

    Share your revised narrative with your partner, and take some time to give editorial feedback for sentence variety.

    Sentence Lengths

    • Choose one long paragraph and count the words in each sentence. If the number of words is the same or close to the same in consecutive sentences, consider combining or breaking up sentences to give variety.

    Sentence Patterns

    • Use introductory adverb sentence starters such as “absolutely,” “anytime,” “evidently,” “frequently,” “generally,” “probably,” “surely,” “undoubtedly,” and “usually.”
    • If most of your sentences begin with the subject followed by the verb, try changing the word order. For example, the sentence “The huge dog bit me on the leg first, shaking his head to pull me down” could be rewritten “First, the huge dog . . .” or “Biting me first on the leg, the huge dog shook his head to pull me down.” Try different ways to rearrange the words to give your sentences a variety of patterns.

    Variety and Specificity of Language

    • Use vivid color words (for example, “cauldron black”).
    • Try replacing indefinite, abstract words with concrete nouns.
    • Make whatever changes you want, and then proofread your narrative carefully and submit it before Lesson 18.

    The New Colossus

    • Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus” is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Read it aloud for students so they can hear its effect.
    • Call on one or two students to read the poem aloud again.
    • Then ask students to read the poem silently and begin to annotate words or expressions they don’t know.
    • A model annotation of “The New Colossus” is provided.
    • Give students time to annotate before having a whole class discussion.
    • Facilitate a brief discussion about the poem.
      • ELL: Consider inviting ELLs to share their experiences in this country as immigrants (when applicable). Don’t force the discussion if students are not willing or don’t seem inclined to share their personal experiences.
    • Discuss the following questions:
      • ✓ What lines or phrases in the poem suggest a lack of xenophobia in the Statue of Liberty? (For example, “Mother of Exiles” suggests she nurtures people who have been rejected; “world-wide welcome” suggests everyone is acceptable.)
      • ✓ According to the poem, what does the statue say about immigrants coming to America? (According to the poem, all immigrants are welcomed. There are no restrictions or quotas mentioned.)

    Work Time

    Listen as “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus is read aloud.

    • Read and annotate the poem silently, identifying any words you don’t know or passages you don’t understand.

    Share your annotations of “The New Colossus” with your classmates, and then join in a discussion using the following questions:

    • What lines or phrases in the poem suggest a lack of xenophobia in the Statue of Liberty?
    • According to the poem, what does the statue say about immigrants coming to America?

    Immigration and Immigration Reform

    • Give students 3 minutes to write. They will share their responses during Lesson 18.


    Complete a Quick Write in response to the following question.

    • What are some current issues about immigration and immigration reform?

    Open Notebook

    You will share your response during Lesson 18.

    Independent Reading and Fear Narrative

    • Make sure you’ve received all of the narratives.


    Continue working on your assignments.

    • Read your Independent Reading book. Plan to finish the book by Lesson 22.
    • Revise, edit, and proofread your narrative, and submit it to your teacher.