ALLIES, the Alliance for Language and Literary Instruction Effecting Standards, was a consortium brought together in 2011 by a grant from the California Postsecondary Education Commission’s Improving Teacher Quality Program. Its purpose was to help middle and high school teachers in Pajaro Valley Unified School District prepare students for the rigor of college and career work through a focus on analytical reading and writing, as required by the new Common Core State Standards. Educational leaders from UCSC Central California Writing Project, the UCSC Writing Program and Education Departments, PVUSD, and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education joined together with teacher leaders to design and implement effective educational practices.
In a partnership with Gonzales Unified School District, CCWP collaborated with Math, Science, History, and ELA teachers at Gonzales High School. During monthly workshops, teachers read and discussed current research on literacy instruction and analytical writing; wrote journal reflections and prompts in order to understand their own reading, thinking and writing processes; analyzed and discussed the CA Common Core literacy standards to learn how to use the academic language, content knowledge and the skills to design curriculum and instruction that includes high expectations for all students; learned strategies for teaching critical reading and analytical writing, embedded these strategies into curriculum and instruction, and determined what was difficult for students to understand; assessed student writing in protocols, using formative assessment tools to make instructional choices and to evaluate the efficacy of instructional choices; gathered and used texts, prompts and student writing models; and discussed how to articulate skills and strategies based on the CA Common Core Standards across grade-levels and across disciplines.