What A Lovely Name lets you type in a first name and learn about its origin and symbolism. You can actually create a logo for it, and then email the link for posting on a teacher blog or website.
It certainly would make for high-interest reading — a student could learn about his/her name or a family member’s or girl/boyfriend’s name. The descriptions are short, simple, and accessible to English Language Learners. Students could use the information they found to do a little more research (if their name has Hebrew origins, they could learn more about what that meant) and share what they learn, or they could just write what the found particularly interesting and why.
The only drawback I saw was that, even though the site appears to have a database of thousands of names, and it definitely includes ones more prevalent in Latino families, there seems to be a dearth of common Asian ones. For those of us with many Hmong, Mien, Chinese, and Vietnamese ELL students (and from other Asian countries) then, using it in the way I suggested isn’t an option. However, you can add names to the database with information, so that in itself be another assignment for an authentic audience.
It would also be easy for teachers to find the information about students names and just print it out, too, if student computer access is a problem.
I read your post, and it reminded me of an article about how one’s name (or initials) determine success. I thought you might find this interesting.