‘Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’

These words were penned by the American poet Emma Lazarus in her sonnet “The New Colossus.” Did you know that Lazarus wrote this poem in 1883 to raise funds for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty? In 1903, a bronze plaque with the poem was mounted inside the pedestal––it’s still there to this day!

What do these words mean to students in their understanding of the United States’ attitude toward immigration? How have our collective ideas about immigrants changed since the statue was raised?

Download the sample lesson plans to deeply explore “The New Colossus” with your students. The lesson plans are appropriate for students in grades 6 and up. This rich resource contains:

  • Introduction to Shared Inquiry
  • A full suite of interpretive activities you can conduct with your students, including:
    • Prereading
    • First reading with sharing questions
    • Rereading activities with two options
    • Shared Inquiry discussion instructions with interpretive questions
    • Discussion and argumentative writing extensions
  • Research questions with suggested sources
  • The full text of the poem

We invite you to conduct as many of the activities as you feel comfortable leading in your classroom. This resource is especially suited for US history, civics, and social studies units, as well as English language arts. You will hear many interesting ideas from your students as you explore this well-known, but sometimes overlooked, poem!

For more information on using Great Books texts with your history, civics, and social studies classes, visit our web page here to learn more! If you’d like more information about Junior Great Books programs and additional anthologies for grades 6 and above, please get in touch with your Great Books K–12 partnership manager!