When first graders know the short vowel sounds, and the sounds of the consonants, they can tackle decoding and encoding words with the CVCe (consonant, vowel, consonant, silent e) pattern. When a student reads a word correctly, she applies her knowledge about letter/sound relationships, and patterns. She uses the same skills when she hears a word, and writes it correctly (encoding). Using a phonetic approach to learning how to read enables students to decode and encode words easily.
Write the short and long vowel sounds of "A" on the board, marking them with the breve (short vowel symbol), or the macron (long vowel symbol), and saying them aloud. Remind the students that long vowels say their own name.
Write "A" marked as short and long vowels, in random order, on the board. Ask the students to read them aloud with you. Repeat this exercise until the students understand the concept.
Write marked CV (consonant/vowel) combinations (ba, ca, da, etc.) using both short and long "A", in random order, on the board. Remind the students to "slide" from the consonant to the vowel, instead of breaking between them and saying each sound separately.
Explain to the students that they have already been very successful decoding and encoding CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words. Review the rule for CVC words: in a short word with one vowel, followed by a consonant, the vowel is usually short.
Write words with "A" in a column on the board that follow the CVC rules. Mark the vowels with the short vowel symbol, and ask the students to read them aloud with you, such as "rat, can, mat, tap, fad, and cap."
Discuss how the silent e affects a word: an e at the end of a one-syllable word is silent and makes the other vowel say its own name. You can ask the students to put a slash mark (/) through the silent e to remind them it doesn't make a sound.
Tell the students they are going to change all the words written on the board into long vowel words by adding a silent e to the end of the word. One at a time, erase the breve, write a silent e at the end of the word and remark the vowel with the macron. Optionally, you can draw a slash through the silent e. Explain the process as you go, and ask the students to read the new word aloud with you. Rat becomes rate, can becomes cane, mat becomes mate, etc.
Ask students to come to the board, one at a time, and be the teacher, explaining and demonstrating to the rest of the class how to put the CVCe rule into practice using words with long "A."
Annette Strauch has been a writer for more than 30 years. She has been a radio news journalist and announcer, movie reviewer for Family Movie Reviews Online, chiropractic assistant and medical writer. Strauch holds a Master of Arts in speech/broadcast journalism from Bob Jones University, where she also served on the faculty of the radio/TV department.