Preventing Academic Failure Reading Program
At the heart of this multisensory Orton-Gillingham method program is the Preventing Academic Failure (PAF) Teacher's Manual. This manual contains the methodology and framework for the entire program, integrating reading, spelling and handwriting instruction. This review will concentrate primarily on the manual itself and on the phonics and spelling components of the program since more specific reviews of the reading component (see Merrill Readers below) and handwriting component (see PAF Handwriting Program in handwriting section) are contained elsewhere in our catalog.
The program is based on the premise that language learning must be simple to complex (phonics-based). Children should learn individual letter sounds, building syllables, words and sentences as they progress. The program uses a multisensory approach to accomplish this. Students learn to recognize graphic symbols for letters and sounds (visual), differentiate and duplicate sounds (auditory and vocal), and write symbols to produce sounds and words (kinesthetic). Children are explicitly taught phonics which is then reinforced in reading, spelling, handwriting and grammar. Instruction is organized and systematic with plenty of practice and reinforcement.
This is much more than phonetic instruction as it addresses all components of language structure: phonograms, sight words, spelling rules, syllabication and grammatical concepts. There are 215 levels (or lessons) in the program.
Reproducible forms corresponding to the outline above are contained in the manual for you to fill in with each lesson, based on the specific skill to be introduced for the day. This actually amounts to just transcription, as you are provided with all of the nuts and bolts elsewhere in the manual. First, each phase of the lesson is thoroughly described, leaving you with little doubt as to how to conduct lessons. There is even a long section on Handwriting Techniques that gives you all of the teacher help you'll need to incorporate the PAF Handwriting program into your daily language lesson. A Curriculum Sequence then shows in detail the integration of the phonics and reading components including PAF Handwriting, Ready to Read or Stepping Up pages, and Merrill readers and Skills books, and Explode the Code pages. (Please note that we do not carry the Teacher Editions of the Merrill Skills books, due to a reluctance on the publisher's part to provide these. However, we feel that this should not disclude their use, since answers are readily discernable.) The Teacher Lists of Words provides corresponding word lists for spelling and reading. Both of these resources show level by level (lesson by lesson) what you need to cover, making your job a piece of cake. Reproducible lesson plan forms and reinforcement sheets are included towards the back of the book. An Assessment section comes next, containing tools and tips for gauging student success. This includes 15 proficiency tests (Curriculum Sequence specifies when to give these). At the end of the manual are various lists including a list of charts needed for display at various level ranges, lists of required and supplementary materials, and a list of sight words taught in the program. Charts, lesson plan forms, a list of read-aloud books and a placement test can be downloaded for free at www.PAFprogram.com/downloads/index.html.
Review cards coordinating with the PAF Handbook (i.e. Teacher's Manual) and program. Cards are 5" x 8." Letters are oriented vertically; vowel-based phonograms are on coral colored cardstock; suffixes, sight words (printed in red), and homonyms (yellow cardstock) are oriented horizontally. Each card is labeled with the Level in which it is presented.
This is a very thorough, complete and sound phonics-based language program which requires very little advance knowledge or preparation on the part of the teacher. It uses solid time-tested materials for instruction, including Explode the Code and Merrill Reading. It integrates phonics, reading, handwriting, spelling and grammar. The cost is reasonable. It can be used for three years (K-3) of phonics/reading/spelling instruction, or used as a remedial program for older students. Teacher's Manual most recently revised in 2007.