Lesson Plan

“Every Day We Get More Illegal” by Juan Felipe Herrera

Immigration, both legal and illegal, is one of the most debated topics in the United States (and around the world) today. In his poem “Every Day We Get More Illegal” Juan Felipe Herrera, a former Poet Laureate of the United States, gives voice to the feelings of those “in-between the light,” who have ambiguous immigration status and work in the United States. The following lesson plan, aimed at facilitating a structured discourse around the issues raised in Herrera’s poem, shows how the humanities provide a lens through which we can explore issues central to maintaining a civil society.

This lesson plan provides a sequence of activities that you can use with your students before, during, and after reading “Every day We Get More Illegal.” Use the whole sequence, or any of the activities, to help your diverse learners enter, experience, and explore the meaning of the poem. Feel free to adjust each activity to meet the needs of your particular students. This lesson can be adapted for secondary students in grades 6–12.

This lesson is an adaptation of an original lesson by the Academy of American Poet’s Educator in Residence, Madeleine Fuchs Holzer.

Guiding Questions

What makes someone a citizen?

What does it mean to belong?

Learning Objectives

Analyze a visual image.

Interpret a poem based on concrete images in its language and structure.

Explore poetry as lens through which we can maintain a civil society.