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Improving Teacher Quality

Literacy in the History Classroom

Grant Number: 02-339

Grant Award: $946,748

Duration of Project: Saturday, October 01, 2005 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Project Subject Areas: History

Grade Band: 7-12

Institutes of Higher Education:

  • University of California, Irvine

Local Education Agencies:

  • Santa Ana Unified, Santa Ana


  • University of California, Irvine, Irvine
  • University of California, Irvine, Irvine, History Department and The History Project

Number of teachers/principals/highly qualified paraprofessionals participating in the project:



  • The goal of this three-year project is to improve student performance in the SAUSD history classroom by assisting teachers in revising their history curriculum to best address studentsˇ¦ literacy needs.
  • To realize that goal, this project aims to cultivate teachersˇ¦ methodological awareness and proficiency in such literacy topics as academic writing and speaking, discipline-specific vocabulary and syntax, and genre identification.
  • Accomplishing these objectives means: increasing history teachersˇ¦ commitment to addressing literacy issues in the history classroom; developing strategies that enable them to do so; and building a vertically and horizontally integrated professional network of history teachers trained in academic literacy that crosses grade levels and school boundaries.
  • Pre-institute and post-institute testing of both teacher-participants and SAUSD students will serve to provide measurable indicators of the success of this three-year intervention.


History in the Literacy Classroom provides middle and high school teachers in SAUSD with a rigorous teacher-training program in the many dimensions of academic literacy. The three-year project will center on three six-day institutes that provide intensive literacy training for three cohorts of 25 middle and high school teachers. Each of the three cohorts of institute participants will receive further support by way of a ten-month-long series of follow-up workshops. The first set of follow-up activities will assist teachers in developing a standards-based history curriculum that addresses such literacy skills as academic English, discipline-specific vocabulary acquisition, and academic writing and speaking. The second set of follow-up activities will center on vertical teaming across the grades so that middle and high school teachers at each site can coordinate their literacy strategies to develop a program that systematically addresses specific site needs. The final set of follow-up activities will turn to developing writing assessments that best cultivate student literacy while attending to the demands of the California content standards in history. Third-party professional evaluation will accompany every stage of this project.

Anticipated Outcomes:

SAUSD will have a network of highly trained secondary history teachers that are skilled in developing students academic literacy skills. An assortment of curricula that builds literacy and historical thinking skills in order to learn the content standards will also result from this three-year effort. Finally, we expect that this professional development will lead to increased student achievement in the history classroom.


Institute of Higher Education: Nicole Gilbertson,

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