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My Name Project: Paragraph and Presentation


Activity Website:
Tech Product/Equipment:
Computer and projector, Mobile devices for students

Activity Description

Four Markers on a Table

Students use the Internet to find information about the meaning of their first names, write a paragraph with this information and reflect on the personal connotation of their names, and make an oral class presentation.


  1. Prepare a handout, modifying the "My Name Project Prompt" (Example Document) as desired. Print and make photocopies.
  2. Check that the Web Site Behind the Name is not blocked at your school. Other Web sites that can be used for this project include Meaning of Names and BabyZone or students can just a Google search, entering the question "What does the name ____ mean?" Prepare your own sample paragraph and presentation as a model.
  3. Decide whether or not you will have students use PowerPoint, Google Slides, or other presentation software or online program for their presentations or simply create a poster.


  1. Ask students if they like their names, if they know the meaning of their names, the origin of their name, and if they know how they got their names. In pairs or small groups, provide the conversation questions and guide students to ask and answer the questions for a warm-up conversation activity. Then tell students that they are going to research the meanings of their names on the Internet, write a paragraph, and use the paragraph as the basis of a class presentation about their names.
  2. Distribute the Example Document (above) for note-taking. Have students write answers to questions for which they know the answers.
  3. In a computer lab, have students open the Example Web Site (or alternate) for Behind the Name. In the search box, they should type in their first name. If the search yields no results, they can try one of the alternate Web sites or do a search on Google, entering the question "What does the name ____ mean?". Demonstrate for students how they will take notes with a sample search.
  4. After students have answered all the questions on the note-taking form, show them a sample paragraph. Have them write the first draft of their paragraphs and collect them. Provide feedback on content, format, and mechanics. Have students revise their paragraphs and compose them using a word processing program (optional).
  5. Show students a sample presentation (see Example Document PowerPoint, above). Tell students that they are going to take the information from their paragraphs and use it in an oral class presentation, if students use PowerPoint. Demonstrate the program if they are unfamiliar with it. Have students save their files and share with you, either by e-mail or saved on a USB device. Optionally, students can create poster presentations.
  6. On presentation day, if students made PowerPoint files, open the files and go into slideshow mode (Slideshow tab - From Beginning). Have students present their projects.

Teacher Tips

  • Showing students a sample presentation helps them understand the assignment expectations.
  • This assignment will take some time, so it may be advisable to break it up into chunks
  • In order get students to the Web site, you can make it a Favorite or Bookmark the site on each computer browser, e-mail them the link, e-mail a word processing document with the link in it, or post the link on your class Web page.
  • Many sites, like these, have advertising. Teach your students what it looks like and how to avoid selecting it since many times it contains malware that they will not want on their computers, at school or at home. It is a very important and necessary skill for them to know.

Program Areas

  • ESL: English as a Second Language


  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced

Lesson Plan


Begin with some conversation questions about names in small groups. (Names conversation questions file). You can print out and distribute the questions, project them, or in a video conference platform as students are in break-out rooms, project to the break-outs or copy and paste the questions into the chat or share the file in the chat with a student from each room opening the file and sharing their screen.



If you have a story to tell about the origin of your own name, tell it. Then ask students to volunteer to share information about naming traditions in their counties or families. Tell students that they are going to be sharing about their names. For things they don't know, they will be interviewing family members or searching online for information as needed. 

Use any of the following for reading or listening to introduce the topic of names and naming traditions, depending on your course and its learning outcomes, and your students' level of English proficiency:

After conversation and discussions, readings, listening about the topic of names and naming traditions, introduce the paragraph. 


Provide students with the following questions from the assignment prompt, Names and Identity Project: Paragraph and Presentation:

1. What is your name? What does your name mean in your language and/or other languages.

2. What does your name make you think of?

3. Does your name match you (your identity, personality)? Why or why not?

4. How did you get your name? 

5. Who named you?

6. Why was this name chosen for you? Are you named after someone in your family?

7. Do any famous people have the same name as you do?

8. If you could change your name to any other name, would you? If yes, what name would you choose and why? If not, why?

Model your answers or elicit answers from a student and write them or type them in a word-processing software. Model how to use the following websites to find answers to questions that students may not know, such as the meaning of their names and famous people who share their names:

Model how to use the sites and how to use Google for a general search when questions aren't found. Model how to cite the sources, as follows: According to the website "Behind the Name," my name means...

Note that this pre-writing could be conducted in your learning management program (Canvas, Moodle, Schoology) in a discussion forum. 



Assign students to complete the answers to the questions and then collect their writing. Give feedback on the content (meaning, comprehensibility, coherence) and then the accuracy/mechanics (grammar, spelling, punctuation).

Distribute the assignment prompt, Names, and Identity Project: Paragraph and Presentation, and go over the assignment. Show students how to change their sentences into a paragraph or a series of paragraphs with the example or your own example you write about your own name. 

Have students draft their assignments and submit them. Give feedback for revisions.


Then assign students to make a presentation based on their paragraphs. This is a sample, but it's best to show your own sample. Students can use this Google template (make a copy) or PowerPoint or another tool you choose.



Use a rubric or checklist to evaluate and give final summative feedback on the paragraph and presentation. You can also conduct peer review sessions on the writing by modeling and providing a checklist or clear instructions on what kind of feedback to provide.


Students will be able to use the internet to conduct simple research for projects, revise their writing based on feedback, and make brief oral presentations on familiar topics using widely-available and commonly-used technology tools for word-processing and presentations.



  • Reading Foundational Skills
    • RF.4 - Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. (Fluency)
  • Reading
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
    • CCR Anchor 7 - Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • Writing
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
    • CCR Anchor 6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
    • CCR Anchor 7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • Speaking and Listening
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • CCR Anchor 6 - Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
  • Language
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
    • CCR Anchor 3 - Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.


Grammar, Reading, speaking, Writing, note-taking, oral, paragraph, presentation, searching, writing, advanced, behind the name, conversation, discussion, essay, intermediate, Internet, my name, name meanings, names


PowerPoint, Behind the Name, Google Slides, Microsoft Word, Google Docs

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.