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National Symbols Project: Paragraph and Presentation


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

Activity Description

Intermediate and advanced students or students in Citizenship classes learn about national symbols of the United States through jigsaw reading and follow up by writing a paragraph and/or making an oral presentation about national symbols of their native countries (or state/city symbols if the class is relatively homogeneous).


  1. Make sure that the site is not blocked at your school. If it is, you may choose to print pages about select United States symbols.
  2. Download the National Symbols Project file. Modify it and resave if you plan to use it as a prompt for the follow-up activities (paragraph and oral presentation). Print and photocopy for students, as desired.
  3. Download the Symbols PowerPoint file. Add images for the city/town where your school is located and resave the file. The file also contains a sample slideshow for an oral presentation on National Symbols.
  4. Decide whether you will use a follow-up activity (paragraph or presentation) and prepare (a) model(s) for students to follow.
  5. Prepare questions and/or a note-taking form to focus students’ reading in the jigsaw reading activity.


  1. Begin by introducing the idea of symbols by using the Symbols PowerPoint file to prompt students to name national, state, and local symbols.
  2. Tell students that they will be working in groups to learn about symbols in the U.S. Select and assign or allow students to choose a United States symbol from the Enchanted Learning Web site.
  3. Divide students into small groups. These groups will be the home groups. Within these groups, number students 1 – 3, 4, or 5, depending on how many students there are. All 1s, 2s, 3s, etc., will join together in expert groups.
  4. The expert groups will read and take notes about a United States symbol for a jigsaw reading activity, using print-outs of the national symbols information from the Web site, or students can work together using a computer. If using one computer per expert group, have students open the Web site and select the national symbol they have been assigned or have selected. Provide the questions (for example, "What is this symbol? What is its history? If it is a monument, where is it located?", etc.) to the expert groups. Model for students how to read and take notes and/or answer the questions.
  5. In expert groups, students can write a short summary together or can practice orally summarizing what they have read.
  6. Once all expert groups are confident that all the members understand what they have read and can orally summarize the information, reconvene the home groups.
  7. In each home group, the "experts" will share what they learned about a national symbol of the United States. The other members of the group can take notes.
  8. After each member of the home group has shared information about a national symbol, ask students to share what they learned. Optionally, you can tell students to study their notes and give a short quiz the next day.
  9. Next, you can have students write a paragraph about national symbols of their native countries, states, birthplaces, or another place. Show your model paragraph. Have them select a place (ideally their native country, hometown or place of birth) and choose 2-4 symbols of that place. If they need to, they can get information about these symbols from Wikipedia or Simple English Wikipedia . Guide students in writing a topic sentence identifying the place and its symbols, describing briefly each symbol using transitions between sentences, and using a conclusion.
  10. Last, students may make a PowerPoint presentation about two or three symbols (or use another type of visual aid). Show a model presentation, based on the paragraph (with a title slide, map of the location, a slide with pictures for each symbol, and a conclusion slide) and then have students make their visual aids and make oral presentations to the class.

Teacher Tips

  • Many sites, like this one, have advertising. Teach your students what ads look like and how to avoid selecting them since sometimes they contain 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.
  • In addition, you can download the app Mercury Reader, which will remove most of the ads and clean up the page.

More Ways

  • Enchanted Learning offers Web and print curriculum materials, many without a subscription, appropriate for use with many levels of ESL on the subjects of holidays, states, maps, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, games, and much more. See the site index for a complete list.

Program Areas

  • ESL: English as a Second Language


  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced

Lesson Plan


Tell students that symbols are all around us. Point out a few symbols that are nearby or ask students to and ask what they symbols reprsent.

Download and view the PowerPoinrt slideshow or use the Google Slides version. Studnets will use the handout, National Symbols Project. Instruct students that for each numbered slide, they should write a word for what the symbol is and your idea(s) about what the symbol means. 

Debrief as a whole class or have students share their answers in pairs or small groups. Have them come up with three or more symbols they see in everyday life.


Tell students that they will learn about symbolism while working on your writing and speaking skills. Ask students if they can define what is a symbol is. Then show the definition and tell them to copy it on their handout.



Continue with the PowerPoint slideshow or Google slides. Ask students to name symbols of the United States. Then compare with those listed on the slides.

Ask students to name symbols of California. Compare with those listed on the slides.

Ask students to name symbols in the town where they live now.

Finally, ask students to think of symbols of the place where they are from. 


For listening practice, you can have students watch the video Top 10 Symbols of America and take notes on the handout. 


Have students expand their vocabulary in preparation for their writing and presentation. Model how to use Snappy Words or On their handout, have them 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."

Then, using articles about Symbols of the United States from Enchanted Learning, prepare a jigsaw reading activity. 

As students do the jigsaw activity, direct them to use the synonyms for "symbolize."


Introduce the paragraph and then model how to have students answer the questions on the handout. Demonstrate how to search online for answers to questions you may not know.

  1. Choose your place.  Write it here: 
  2. Where is it located? 
  3. Why did you choose this place? 
  4. What is the relevance of this place for you personally (For example, did you grow up there?  Were you born there?  Have you lived there?  Have you visited this place before?  Do you want to visit this place in the future?)
  5. Choose two to four symbols that represent this place.  Use the internet to find information, as needed, and take notes.

a.     Symbol 1: 

Details about history/significance: 

b.    Symbol 2:  

Details about history/significance:

c.    Symbol 3: 

Details about history/significance: 

d.    Symbol 4: 

Details about history/significance: 

6.  What do these symbols tell us about the character of the people or the place?

  • For this pre-writing exercise, you may want to collect it and give initial feedback on the content.
  • Next, model for students how to arrange the answers to the questions into a paragraph form and to use a topic sentence, correct format, and transitions. You can use the model paragraph provided in the handout or write your own.
  • Have students draft their paragraphs on Google Docs or Microsoft Word after completing the outline on the handout. Collect their work and provide feedback for revisions, focusing first on content and secondarily on mechanics. Have students revise. You may also choose to have a peer review session after modeling how students can provide feedback to one another using guiding questions, a checklist, or a rubric. Students will then submit a final draft.



Demonstrate for students how to digitize their paragraph by making a narrated PowerPoint show (optionally exported as a video, see Instructions for Narrating PowerPoint file) or by using Adobe Spark Video (see Adobe Spark Video Instructions), or by using Canva to make a video (this video shows how to add a voice-over narration to a Canva video). This video is based on the paragraph provided in the project handout. Model usage of whichever tool you decide to have students use, especially how to select appropriate images. Show the outline of the presentation on the project handout and emphasize that you do not want students to read their paragraphs.

If you decide to have students make a more traditional presentation, discuss aspects of effective presentations, such as using good volume, making eye contact, using your visual aid effectively, and so on.

Have students present their work on a "National Symbols Festival" day in class.


Use a rubric or checklist to provide summative feedback on the paragraph and presentation.


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.
    • CCR Anchor 10 - Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
  • 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.
    • CCR Anchor 8 - Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • Speaking and Listening
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
    • 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 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.


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Adobe Spark Video, Enchanted Learning, Canva, Google Slides, PowerPoint, video, YouTube
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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.