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Directions for Reader's Theater: The Immigrant

Introduction: The study of American labor in this time period must include a unit on immigration. Millions of foreigners came to America with their own dreams and expectations. This new labor force contributed to the greatness of America, although these "immigrants" were not welcomed by all. The following primary sources is a reflection of the thoughts and feelings of these immigrants.

Use this particular reader's theater to begin discussion and writing about the reasons why immigrants came to America.

Reader's theater is a dramatic form of presentation. Therefore, the students need to rehearse, practice, and project the character and feeling of their assigned reading.

Time period:  One class period

Resource: Script for reader's theater, "The Immigrant"

Objectives: Students will...

1. read primary sources about the immigrant, coming to America.

2. work together in groups to present the readings in a dramatic presentation.

The Cast: Get everyone involved!

1. Seventeen readers.............................17 students

2. Seven groups: 4 in a group.............28 students

3. Four Woman parts..............................3 students

4. Four Protest parts.................................4 students

5. Chorus: 6 in the chorus......................6 students
Total: 58 students

If the class is smaller (I hope it is), the groups and chorus can be smaller; or, some students might have two assigned reading parts.


1. Assign solo parts to students or ask for volunteers; assign parts to groups and make sure the members are sitting together. Tell students to pencil mark their roles, because some students tend to forget their assigned parts.

2. Each person and group should prepare their part by practicing reading out loud. Each group might select a leader who can give the cue when the group should read their part. The room will get noisy, but practice is so important for this presentation.

3. As the teacher, feel free to coach the students on voice and interpretation of a particular selection. You might have the chorus and certain groups read out loud in front of the whole class, so that you can give directions on how to read dramatically.

4. Select and discuss some of the selections that you think need clarification or understanding, e.g., discuss Emma Lazarus' poem on the Statue of Liberty.

5. For the actual performance you might want to place some of the readers and groups in certain parts of the room, e.g., the chorus and some readers might be placed in the front of the room; readers might stand when it's time for their reading. need to set the mood and to emphasize that this is a dramatic reading of primary sources; therefore, encourage the students to read slowly with feeling and emphasis.

Follow-up activities:

1. After the reading, you might ask the following questions:
-For what reasons did the immigrants come to America?
-What were their different views and reactions to arriving in America?
-Were there any inconsistencies or contradictions expressed in the
reading selections?

2. For homework, students might write about the following:
-Research and interview family members to discover the history of
immigration in their own family.
-Pretending to be an immigrant, write about some thoughts and feelings on why you would want to live in America.
-Create a dialogue between one American who opposes immigration and another who favors immigration.
-Create your own poem to place on the Statue of Liberty.