Exploring Local Icons

MLC’s Iconic Michigan project empowers teachers and students to explore and showcase icons in their communities through research, collaboration, and media making. 

Inspired by the PBS Series

Iconic America is a PBS series that examines the history of America through some of its most iconic symbols, objects, and places on location and in conversation with historical thinkers, community members and other experts. Each episode explores a symbol’s history and how its meaning has changed over time, using them as a gateway to understanding America’s past and present.   

Teachers can share Iconic America with their students by streaming episodes and using lesson plans available through PBS Learning Media, and then using the Iconic Michigan viewing guide to facilitate discussion about the content of the episodes as well as the production style and techniques that make the show engaging. 

Iconic Michigan Project Guides

Teacher Guide

Available as a PDF.

Student Guide

Available as a PDF or an editable Google Doc.

The Teacher Guide

Lesson plans and resources for leading students through producing Iconic Michigan media projects, including:

Content Area Applications

Guidelines for completing this project within different subjects using the Gold Standard PBL framework.

Lesson Plans and Calendar Suggestions

Breaking the project into four phases with timeline and pacing notes.

Options for Assessment

A sample rubric and suggestions for teacher evaluation and student self-assessment.

Extension Opportunities

Places to share your completed work and join in nationwide Iconic America prompts.

The Student Guide

This guide leads students through examining icons in their community that they can showcase using the same techniques they saw in Iconic America.

The student guide includes four sections:


Analyze segments from the Iconic America series and discuss what it means to be an icon.


Use the inquiry process to uncover local stories and decide on the subject of the mini-documentary.


Collect footage, edit, and create content that meets the project's goals.


Share your work locally and with MLC so that it can be added to a statewide collection.

Taking Inspiration

If your students aren’t sure where to begin, check out our growing collection of student-created videos. See a high school orchestra performance in the videos below or see the Flip video collection from students at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. 

Showcase Your Work

Once your video or collection of videos is complete, share it with us and we’ll feature it on the Michigan Learning Channel YouTube channel! Just send us an email at MLC@dptv.org.