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My Personal Seal Project: Paragraph and Presentation


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

Activity Description

California History

Students learn about the California state seal and national seals and then use PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Google Draw to design a personal seal with images or symbols that represent who they are, write a paragraph explaining the features of their seals, and make an oral presentation.


  1. Download the Example Document (above) titled Samples of National Seals. It is a PowerPoint file.
  2. Delete slides, as desired, and add slides with national seals of your students’ native countries. Resave the file.
  3. Be prepared to explain the meaning behind either the California state seal or the the Great Seal of the United States (also known as the coat of arms).
  4. Make sure that Microsoft PowerPoint is installed on the computers students will use to create their seals.
  5. Practice making your own personal seal on PowerPoint, following the directions provided on the Example Document (above) titled Personal Seal Project.
  6. Write a paragraph about your seal to use as a model for students (or use the one provided).


  1. Open the Samples of National Seals PowerPoint (Example Document, above) and project it.
  2. Ask students if they can name any of the images on the state seal, the United States seal, or the national seals of their native countries.
  3. Run the PowerPoint slideshow (select SlideshowFrom Beginning).
  4. Explain what the images on the California and United States seals represent (see the notes area under the PowerPoint slides for information from Wikipedia).
  5. Ask students if they can name the country of the seal that is displayed. For students from that country, ask them if they can explain what any of the colors or images on the seal represent.
  6. Tell students that they are going to create a personal seal with two to four things to symbolize themselves. The symbols can be animals, nature scenes, places, or objects. Use the Personal Seal Project Prompt document (above) for a sample personal seal or show and explain your sample personal seal.
  7. Have students choose and draw or write on a paper, words or sketches of two to four things that symbolize them. Provide feedback and ask questions to help students be ready to explain why they chose what they did.
  8. Next, demonstrate in a computer lab using Microsoft PowerPoint how to design the seal. See the Personal Seal Project Prompt file for instructions.
  9. Print (preferably in color) students’ seals when they are complete.
  10. Guide students to write a paragraph about their seals, explaining each image or item and how it relates to the student as a person. See the Personal Seal Project Prompt file for a sample paragraph and outline. Optionally have students type the paragraphs. Provide feedback for revision of the paragraphs, first on content and second on mechanics (grammar, spelling, punctuation, formatting, etc.). Have students revise and print their paragraphs.
  11. Last, have students make brief oral presentations about their seals, using the seals as visual aides, either printed out or projected from a computer, and based on the paragraphs they wrote.

Teacher Tips

More Ways

  • Students could also read, write, and present about the national seals of their native countries or the coats of arms of their hometowns or home states using Wikipedia's Gallery of Coats of Arms , which lists countries alphabetically with images of coats of arms and descriptions.

Program Areas

  • ESL: English as a Second Language


  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced

Lesson Plan


Show the California state seal (View the image).

Distribute the project handout.

Ask students if they know what the image is. Then ask them: Do you know or have any ideas about what the images represent?  If so, write what you know or think on their handout.

After a few minutes, ask students to share their ideas in pairs, small groups, or with the whole class. Note their replies by writing them on the board or typing on a word-processing program that you project.


Tell students that a state seal, like a country seal, has symbols that represent features of the place, its character, its history, and its people. 

Open the PowerPoint "Seals." [Note: Before you go through the slides, add seals or coats of arms of countries representeed by students in your class]. Show the slides, and ask students to identify their country's seals. Ask them if they can explain what any of the items are and if they can explain the symbolism. If not, tell them that they are not expected to, but if they would like to do some research and share with the class at a later date, they are welcome to.



Tell students that they are going to practice their English with listening and reading to learn more about the California state seal and the seal of the United States. Later they will create a personal seal with images that represent them.

  • Students will first practice listening comprehension by watching a video to learn more about the symbolic meanings of the images on the California State seal by watching this video: Great Seal of California.
  • Pre-teach the following vocabulary:

sheaf (noun) = a bundle or group of grain stalks (like hay) tied together  (and show an image)

  • Give students a moment to preview the note-taking table. Play the video and repeat as needed, modeling for students how to use their handouts to take notes. Words in the video that may be unfamiliar to you are the following:
  • Fill out the table as you watch.  Write the image in the California seal that corresponds to each symbolic meaning or write the symbolic meaning for images.  
  • Before having students check their answers in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class, have students expand their vocabulary in preparation for their writing and presentation. Model how to use Snappy Words or On their handout, have students write down three or more words that are synonyms for the noun “symbol" and then write down three or more words that are synonyms for the verb "symbolize." 
  • As students go over the listening comprehension, have them practice giving their answers by using the following frame:

____________s symbolize (use another word) _________________

____________ symbolizes (use another word) ___________________

  • Talk about other imagery in the seal that was not discussed in the video (such as the word "Eureka"), and model for students how you search online to find out about their symbolism. 

Students will do reading comprehension practice and learn about the Great Seal of the United States.

Ask students: Have you ever seen the Great Seal of the United States?  Like state seals and other countries’ seals, it has imagery that represents the history and values of the country. 

Tell students: Before you read about the symbolism on the Great Seal, see what you already know and prepare for the reading by completing the pre-reading prediction table on the next page. (Refer students to the handout). [Note: You could transform the handout table into a pre- and post-reading Google Form).

Students make predictions by reading each sentence and marking T in the table if they think the statement is true or F if they think it's false. 


Students then check their predictions by reading the online article about the Great Seal of the United States. 

Students should then read the article again to answer comprehension questions.

Model for students how they may paste the URL for the article into the VoyCabulary site to re-read the article with vocabulary support (double-click on words in the text you do not understand in order to see a definition), or you may use an online learners dictionary such as the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary to find definitions for unfamiliar words.

1.    Where is the Great Seal of the United States typically seen? (there is more than one answer)

2.    Was the seal created before or after the United States gained independence from England? 

How do you know?  Give specific evidence from the text.

3.    “The symbols of the seal reflect the beliefs and values that the Founding Fathers wanted to pass on to their descendants.”  Who are the “Founding Fathers,” in your own words?  Explain in your own words who the “descendants” were.

4.    What do the olive branch and arrows represent?

5.    What do these colors represent?

a.    red =

b.    white =

c.     blue =

6.    What is the meaning of the constellation?

7.    What is the significance of the number 13 for the United States?  Besides the Great Seal, on what other national emblem is the number 13 featured?

8.    Overall, to what do the symbols on the reverse of the Great Seal (pyramid, eye, scroll) refer?

9.    Find three or more words in the article that are synonyms for the verb “symbolize” (note: some may be the same or different from those already found).


Tell students that for this project, they will design a personal seal in PowerPoint, Google Slides, Google Draw, or any design software they know, with two to four images that symbolize them:  character,  work, goals or dreams,  culture/traditions, etc.

Model for students how to choose two to four things to symbolize them with the table on their handout.  The symbols can be animals, nature scenes, places, or objects.

Then have students begin a draft design of their seals. 

Demonstrate how to use whichever software or web tool you select for the project for students to make their seals.


Next, have students write a paragraph based on their personal seals. Tell students that they will explain how the images in your personal seal represent the people they are. Go over the outline of the paragraph:

❏ a heading in the top left with your name, the date, class, and assignment

❏ a centered title

❏ indent the first line, double-spacing

❏ a topic sentence to introduce your topic

❏ a brief description of each image of your personal seal followed by an explanation of how it represents you

❏ a variety of synonyms for the word “symbolize” (note: see the words you wrote in Task 3 and Task 4, question #9)

❏ transitions between sentences (first, second, next, another, finally, last, in conclusion, to conclude)

❏ a concluding sentence

Show the instructor’s sample in the project handout (or ideally a sample you write about your own seal you create). Have students use the outline for their initial draft. You may choose to collect the outline and provide feedback. 

Then model how students can use word-processing software to write their paragraphs. Have them share their paragraphs with you. Provide feedback for revisions based first on content and secondarily on mechanics. 

Note: You could also hold peer review sessions, which should be modeled, and students should be instructed to give feedback to one another based on a checklist, set of questions, or a rubric.

After the paragraphs are revised satisfactorily revised, move on to the presentation.

Model for students how to make the presentation by introducing themselves, talking about each item on their personal seal and what it represents about them and their identity in an orderly fashion with transitions, and using a conclusion. Discuss features of a good presentation such as eye contact, using good speaking volume, using the visual aid appropriately, and so on.


Students make an in-class oral presentation to introduce themselves to their classmates using their personal seal as a visual aid and their paragraphs as the basis for what they will say. 

Provide summative feedback on the paragraph and presentations using a checklist or rubric. 


Students will be able to use the dictionary tools to find the meaning of unfamiliar words, interact with online videos and text, think in abstract terms by considering symbols, consider imagery in building their visual literacy skills, 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.



grammar, listening, reading, speaking, writing, nations, oral presentation, paragraph, PowerPoint, presentations, project, seals, symbolism, symbols, Wikipedia, word processing, advanced, coats of arms, history, intermediate


PowerPoint, Google Draw, 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.