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History Projects for the 21st Century

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Connecting History to 21st Century Skills


How do we prepare history students to become successful in their careers and their college experiences? Michael Sabin, Alexandria Lau, Esther Rhee, and Bryna Walden set out to investigate how they can create authentic projects that demonstrate mastery of content and skills for the 21st Century.  The first outcome that they set out to accomplish was to help students communicate effectively through a variety of media platforms.  Since technology is such a big element of our everyday lives, we felt students had to be proficient in using PowerPoint presentations, digital storytelling, and comic books.  In addition to educating learners on producing quality content, we also wanted to support students in working in teams. This means students are accountable to their peers for meeting project deadlines and participating in the production and evaluation of their product.  For this reason, we also included an element on Project Based Learning models in our inquiry.   We hope you enjoy your visit to our site. 



21st Century Projects

1. Research Presentations

2. Digital Storytelling

3. Comic Books

4. Design based learning

5. Project based learning 

Team Virgil at National Council for Social Studies Conference 


Team Bio/ Information

Michael Sabin:  Michael earned his BA in History from UCLA and later earned his teaching credential from UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.  He holds two Masters Degrees, one in Education with a Middle School Emphasis, the other in Educational Administration.  He began his career teaching Social Studies at Virgil Middle School and has worked as a librarian, literacy coach, and instructional specialist.  In 2011, he received the Outstanding Middle School Teacher Award from the California Council for the Social Studies.

Alexandria Lau: Alexandria teaches history, photography, English and journalism at the Ambassador School of Global Leadership.  She first met her teammates at Virgil Middle School, where she served as a history teacher in 2007.  She was drawn to the project because she wanted to make the projects that she does in her classroom engaging for her students.  She earned her master's degree in Education and teaching credential from UCLA. She also holds a BA in Mass Communications, Political Science, and Economics from UC Berkeley. She can be reached at

Esther Rhee: Esther has had the dream of becoming a teacher since she was 9 years old.  She finally fulfilled her dream after attaining a BA in History, a teaching credential, and also a masters degree in Education from UCLA.  She began her teaching career at Virgil Middle School in 2007 and currently teaches Social Studies at the Ambassador School of Global Leadership.  She can be reached at

Bryna Walden: Bryna started her college education at West Los Angeles College.  She earned her A.A. and transferred to UCLA in 2005.  Two years later, she was a graduate of UCLA with a degree in History and a minor in Geography.  She then pursued a graduate degree and graduated from UCLA with her M.Ed. in 2009.  Bryna was hired by LAUSD and has been teaching 7th or 8th grade history at Virgil Middle School since 2008.  Bryna loves using technology both inside and outside the classroom.  She is constantly trying new hardware and software to motivate her children and her students.  Bryna also uses DonorsChoose to help with supplementals in the classroom to help students make connections, increase engagement, and make learning more inviting for the most challenging of students.



School Information


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Virgil Middle School: Virgil Middle School is located near downtown Los Angeles and houses over 1300 students from grades 6-8.  Over 87% of the students who attend Virgil are Hispanic, and the next highest population is Filipino at 7.7%.  Virgil is a Title I school but also runs a School for Advanced Studies.  At this point in time, Virgil has two academies within the one school: Innovation Learning Academy and Advanced Global Learning Academy.  Each academy is set up to help better serve the individual students and their learning needs.




Ambassador School of Global Leadership: ASGL is a 6-12 secondary span school, and one of six pilot schools located at the historic Ambassador Hotel site.  It is an urban school, located in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles known as "Koreatown."  ASGL is only three years old and has approximately 700 students.  Approximately 82% of the students are Hispanic, and 85% are eligible to receive free/reduced lunch.  Lastly, ASGL is a member of the International Studies Schools Network and its mission is to prepare globally competent students who will be college and career ready.


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