Printed from Afterschool Curriculum Choice - Literacy
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Curriculum Details for
MCP Plaid Phonics


Program
Description
Practitioner Expert
Review
Content Expert
Review
MCP Plaid Phonics
Publication Date: 2003
Grade Level: K–6
Content Focus: Literacy/Language Arts
Costs: $53-$57 per teacher’s guide, $8 - $14 per student guide
The costs shown were accurate at the time of the review. Please check the publisher's web site for current prices.
Developer Contact Information
Pearson
1 Lake Street
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
(201) 236-7000
www.pearson.com

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Program Description

Design Summary

This school-based curriculum is easily adapted for afterschool.  MCP Plaid Phonic’s primary goals are to teach early phonics skills, support reading development, and enhance reciprocity between reading and writing.  Extension and cross curricular activities allow teachers to customize lessons around the needs of the students.  Curriculum materials include a teacher’s guide with lesson and activity descriptions, student books, as well as word and picture cards.

The curriculum is hands on, with manipulatives for the early grades and more interactive pieces for later grades, addressing developmental and cognitive needs. There are specific strategies for ESL students, auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learners, as well as those who need extra support or intervention.

Costs and Staff Training

Costs vary by grade level.  For K-3, each color student edition is $7.95-$8.95, teacher’s edition is $53.95, and picture/word card sets are $47.95-$71.50.  For grades 4-6, each student edition is $13.95 and teacher’s edition is $57.95.  Libraries of books, leveled by skill, range from 36 to 840 books and cost between $136 and $2,728. There are sometimes special offers and discounts for large volume purchases.

Curriculum is straightforward and user friendly, so training is not required but can be made available depending on needs.

Staff Qualifications

Formal teaching experience is not required to be able to successfully implement this program.  Both content and practitioner expert reviews support this, although they suggest also that some background understanding of phonics rules might be helpful.

Standards Alignment

National: None specified.
State: None specified.

Research Base

This program was based on research in early phonics instruction.

Evaluation Details

The program has not been evaluated, but will shortly be submitted for review to FCRR Florida Center for Reading Research.

Overall Strengths/Overall Challenges

Strengths
  • Variations of lessons.
  • Consistency of skills being taught.
  • Very thorough curriculum, teaches students effectively.
  • Allows students to work at their own pace and master each concept before moving on to the next.
  • Both age appropriate and challenging.
  • Children enjoy it and have fun.
  • Suggestions for how to reach different types of learners are particularly useful.
  • Teacher’s manual is easy to read and straightforward.
Challenges
  • Limited to a focus on phonics.
  • Games and activities suggested in the “Focus on All Learners” section would need to be used to ensure the curriculum is engaging for students.

Practitioner Expert Review

Practitioner Expert Background

Two practitioners were interviewed regarding their experience using MCP Plaid Phonics. One practitioner has worked at a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten age learning center for eight years.  She has used Plaid Phonics for the past year on a daily basis in a full-day kindergarten classroom.  She has gotten feedback that her students, who used Plaid Phonics in her class, have been very successful with their reading skills in the first grade.  Her classroom was very diverse in terms of economic and cultural backgrounds, as well as learning styles.

The other practitioner has been working at a similar learning center for 16 years, and is currently the director. She taught Plaid Phonics to a Kindergarten classroom for six years, about four days a week.  She found this to be more successful than the whole-language program that the center had used previously.

Logistics

Training
  • Neither attended a formal training
  • Both felt prepared to start using the program using the self-explanatory, detailed teacher’s manual after observing others teach the program.
Set-up/preparation
  • Preparation is fairly easy, since many materials are provided by the curriculum.
  • Planning ahead and being organized will greatly reduce a teacher’s preparation time.
  • Used Plaid Phonics with the whole group, and in smaller groups of five depending student level.

Student Engagement

  • Students enjoy the curriculum, have fun, and appear to feel successful when using it.
  • They particularly like the different activities.
  • Students get their own books.
  • Parents are pleased with their students’ success. Students appear better prepared for first grade as a result.

Content

Adaptability to instructor needs
  • Gives a lot of guidance about how to go about teaching the curriculum.
  • Curriculum becomes challenging it progresses.
  • Flexibility of adjusting to students who might be struggling with particular skills. Gives suggestions about other ways to teach a skill.
  • Students can work at their own pace. 
  • Pre- and post-assessments are particularly effective at helping teachers understand where students are at in terms of skills.
General skills taught
  • Letter sounds, handwriting, sight words, rhyming words.
  • Assessments help build test-taking skills.
  • Learn to take turns and share.
  • Curriculum encourages socialization through the different activities.
Addressing diverse student needs
  •  Curriculum addresses different learning styles.
  • Content is very age appropriate.
  • Characters in the books are diverse, and content appeals to students from range of backgrounds. 
  • The curriculum focus is on phonics.

Strengths and Challenges

Strengths
  • Variations of lessons.
  • Consistency of skills being taught.
  • Very thorough curriculum, teaches students effectively.
  • Allows students to work at their own pace and master each concept before they move on to the next.
  • Both age appropriate and challenging.
  • Children enjoy it and have fun.
  • Suggestions for how to reach different types of learners are particularly useful.
  • Teacher’s manual is easy to read and straightforward.
Challenges
  • Neither practitioner found any major challenges with Plaid Phonics.

Content Expert Review

Content Expert Reviewer

Tanya Wright
Tanya S. Wright is a doctoral student in the Language, Literacy and Culture program at the University of Michigan School of Education. She received a Masters degree as a Reading Specialist from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelors degree from Columbia University. Tanya is a former Kindergarten teacher whose current research focuses on teacher professional development in the area of language and literacy.

Content

  • This is a specific phonics/word study curriculum. It is not a complete language arts program.
  • It includes phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, phonics, word study and spelling skills.
  • The content is accurate, and is delivered primarily though worksheets and workbook activities.

Skills

Academic Skills
  • Phonics, including: consonants, short and long vowel sounds, vowel pairs, dipthongs, digraphs, compound words, prefixes and suffixes.
  • High frequency word instruction
  • Handwriting
  • Work with decodable texts.
Study Skills
  • How to locate words in the dictionary, dictionary guide words, and dictionary alphabetical order.

Alignment to Standards

This would likely align to most phonics standards.

Assessment

  • The curriculum includes unit pretests and posttests, review lessons and unit check-ups.
  • PAPA (Phonemic Awareness and Phonics Assessment) is the suggested standardized assessment tool.

Structure

  • MCP Plaid Phonics is fairly structured, suggesting what to teach, which worksheet pages to use, and what activities to do with the students.
  • A script is not provided, although there are suggestions for teachers’ instructions and explanations.
  • The content is entirely predefined, each of the lessons includes all of the skills that the teacher is expected to teach.

Addressing Diverse Student Needs

Adaptability
  • The authors suggest that you can use the assessments to find the appropriate lessons for each child or for small groups.
  • They include suggestions for challenge activities and for children who need extra support.
  • Lessons are entirely teacher-directed.
Developmental level
  • Because the phonics component is directed at grades K-3, it would likely be developmentally appropriate to use it as a 15-minute per day supplement to a complete language arts curriculum.  Would likely be inappropriate at this early age to spend more time drilling on this kind of skill.
Learning Styles Addressed
  • Suggestions are provided for kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learners.
  • Curriculum is focused on whole group instruction and individual practice, with limited suggestions for group work.
Multiculturalism
  • There are pictures of children from a variety of backgrounds in the take-home books.

Strengths and Challenges

Strongest Features
  • Provides systematic phonics instruction that is helpful for many students as they learn to read.
  • Word study and spelling instruction is also helpful for older students.
Challenges and Drawbacks
  • Limited to a focus on phonics.
  • Games and activities suggested in the “Focus on All Learners” section would need to be used to ensure the curriculum is engaging for students.

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