Teaching grade-level content to students who have just arrived in the United States and whose English skills are limited is a difficult task. High school-level content specialists especially have little training on how to integrate language acquisition into their content. Often teachers deal with that by either dumbing down the curriculum to make it linguistically simpler or alternating between lessons focused on language and those about content.
Teachers in San Francisco were looking for better ways to teach their newcomer students the English skills they need, without losing a focus on the complex content all students should be learning. To do that, they looked to adopt some of the strategies of the Writing Is Thinking Through Inquiry (WITsi) work being done in New York City with the general education population.