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The New Colossus

Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs, astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

Reader’s Theatre-Irish Immigrant’s Experience on Ellis Island (8.0)

  • Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island Story by Eve Bunting

  • Reader’s Theatre instructions

  • Script for Two Readers/Dreaming of America

  • Copies of “A Mill Worker’s Grievances,” “The Forefather Arrives,” “The New Colossus,” “You, Whatever You Are,” and Grandfather’s Journey


This activity introduces the concept of immigrants’ feelings and thoughts upon seeing Lady Liberty and America for the first time. The book is about Annie Moore, the first immigrant to actually be processed through Ellis Island on January 1, 1892, her fifteenth birthday. She and her two brothers had made the journey to America to be reunited with their parents, Matt and Mary Moore, in New York City. A statue of Annie and her brothers stands on the quay at Cobh (Cove), Ireland, where their journey began. Another stands on Ellis Island, where their journey ended. This activity uses the strategy called “Reader’s Theatre” to introduce students to Annie Moore. This strategy reinforces oral reading fluency and allows students to make connections with historical text in a variety of ways.


  • Use overhead transparencies to tell the story of Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island Story to class. (book is a little long too read in entirety)

  • Refer to Preparing Your Own Scripts. Go over instructions for preparing a script and point out example from As Far As Mill Springs.

  • Look at Dreaming of America’s Script for Two Readers. Talk with the class about how the narrative was changed into a Script.

  • Perform the Script for Two Readers for the class.

  • Divide the room into cooperative learning groups.

  • Give out different works to class to prepare a Reader’s Theatre Script for homework. Class will have some time to prepare, but will be given time the next morning to finish. These will be “A Mill Worker’s Grievances”, “The Forefather Arrives”*, “The New Colossus”, “You, Whoever You Are”, and Grandfather’s Journey.

  • Have groups perform the Reader’s Theatre scripts for the class.

*Copyright laws prevent including the text of the poem on this cd; however, information for locating it is provided below.
The poem, “The Forefather Arrives” by Norbert Krapf is available at the following web address:

Grade Level Expectations

  • GLE 0601.8.1 Read and comprehend a variety of works from various forms of literature.

  • GLE 0801.8.2 Understand the characteristics of various literary genres (e.g. poetry, novel, biography, short story, essay, drama)

Language Arts Indicators

  • SPI 0601.8.1 Distinguish among various literary genres (e.g. fiction, drama, nonfiction, poetry)

  • SPI 0601.8.2 Identify the setting and conflict of a passage.

  • SPI 0801.8.10 Identify the kind (s) of conflict present in a literary plot (i.e. person vs. person, person vs. self, person vs. environment. person vs. technology)

Materials needed:

Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island Story by Eve Bunting; Reader’s Theatre instructions; rubric for assessment of radio play

Assessment activity: Reader’s Theatre- Irish Immigrant’s Experience

On Ellis Island

  1. Read the book Dreaming Of America: An Ellis Island Story to class.

  2. Perform the Script for Two Readers on Dreaming of America.

  3. Discuss preparing scripts from various literary genres.

  4. Divide the room into cooperative learning groups.

  5. Give out instructions for Preparing Your Own Scripts.

  6. As a group project, prepare a Reader’s Theatre script for the poem, book, or reading you are given.

  7. Perform the script for the class.


reparing Your Own Scripts

Costumes and props are not required, but can be used, if students want to include them. The students can determine how they want to sit or stand while reading. They might decide and practice how they want to enter, to leave, what additional sound effects might be added to the script. Reader’s Theatre can serve as a mini-play. Students can learn higher order reading comprehension skills, characterization and points of view. Grammar usage is incorporated by including sentence structure and punctuation. Finally, oral interpretation skills are polished as students learn to read fluently with expression, voice, and mood.
Students in upper elementary, middle, or high school can be taught to turn any piece of narrative writing into a readers theatre script. The procedure is as follows:

  1. Decide on the passage which will be used from the book or write your own passage. It can be short or long, depending on what the students want to convey.

  2. Decide on the characters who will speak.

  3. Decide on which characters will need narrators.

  4. Mark narrator parts with N1, N2, etc.

  5. Passages, words that indicate what the character is thinking, feeling, or doing can be spoken by that character. Of course, all dialogue will be spoken by the character. These parts can be indicated with first letters or letters of the characters’ names.


Pendergraft, Patricia. As Far As Mill Springs. Philomel Books, 1992.

N1-narrator one N2-narrator two

R-Robert A-Abiah


/The orphans who lived at the Hixons’ were not fortunate children. In fact, they

R N1

were/ overworked, underfed and severely punished for small offenses./ It was

just before Christmas and just after another of the cruel punishments that Robert/

R N1

decided to run away./ He was determined to find his real mother and his own

N2 A

home./ To Robert’s surprise, his young friend, Abiah, follows him./ “Take me with
N2 A

you, “/ she pleads!/ “Anything would be better than going back to that place.”

N1 R&A

/Robert agrees, then they meet up with Mutt dog and together/ they head for Mill

Springs, riding the rails and braving cold and hunger.

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