K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will improve their reading and spelling skills by better understanding the relationship of the decoding and encoding processes as they apply them to one-syllable words.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

60 minutes


  • Word cards with CVC pattern words (mat, tap, rob) which can be converted to CVCE pattern words (mate, tape, robe)
  • Wooden clothes pin with “e” printed at front (where it clips)
  • Computers with word processing program, pencil and paper, or other writing device
  • Chalkboard or chart paper


  • Review of short and long vowel sounds (Ex: Show students the word cat. Ask what letter acts as the “V” in cat. Ask what sound it makes. Repeat with other words.)
  • Review blending of these sounds in CVC words.


  1. The teacher states that he/she will be introducing a new pattern, CVCE, that contains a magic letter E. She/He then produces a word card which contains the word tap and asks students to sound out the word.
  2. She/He reminds students that tap is a CVC word, so it has a short sound. Now for the magic!! She/He whips out the magic clothes pin and clips it to the end of the word tap.
  3. Then she/he demonstrates the change on chart paper or blackboard by writing CVC with a short vowel mark over the V and CVCE with a long vowel mark over the V and a silent mark over the E. She/He explains that silent E is magic because it turns the vowel from short to long. Voila! Tap becomes tape!
  4. The teacher then asks a student to pick a word card from the stack and read it. While holding up the card the student has read, she/he asks group to name the pattern (CVC) and the kind of vowel sound they hear in the word. She/He then asks the student to take the clothes pin and clip it to the end of the word. She/He reminds students that the magic E is silent, but it makes the first vowel in the word say its name, i.e., be long.
  5. The student is then asked to sound out the word using a long sound instead of a short sound. The teacher removes the clothes pin and asks the group to read the CVC word again, then attaches the clothes pin and repeats with the CVCE word. The sequence is repeated with other students using other words from the stack.
  6. The next phase of the lesson provides independent practice, but some guided practice may be required with some students. The teacher tells the class that he will be dictating some of the CVC and “CVCmagicE” words they have been reading for them to spell.
  7. Before beginning the encoding process, students should be reminded that they can use the auditory and tactile strategy of slowly sounding the words “on their fingers”, i.e., /m/-/a/-/t/ so that they can hear each one and get them in the correct sequence when they write them. They can do this by asking “What sound did I hear on my first finger, my second, etc.?”.
  8. (Teacher demonstrates.) She/He also asks students, “If you hear a long vowel in the word, what should it tell you?; Who has worked her/his magic?” (If the vowel they hear is long, the word must have an E at the end).
  9. In later lessons students can be taught the CVVC pattern and therefore another reason that the vowel might be long, but not at this stage. The teacher then dictates an example (CVC) and helps students sound it on their fingers and write it.
  10. She/He follows with a CVCE word and does the same. She/He then continues letting students work on their own to encode the words.
  11. Students can then be asked to read completed lists aloud so that they can see the interrelation of the decoding/encoding process. The teacher then summarizes the lesson and assesses work products for future review and/or reteaching.
  12. The second phase of this lesson can be modified by limiting the number of vowels among which students have to discriminate. For instance, if most students easily discriminate the short a and short o sounds, only words with long and short a and o can be used at first until the CVC and CVCE concept is mastered. Then words with other vowels can be gradually added in later lessons until students are proficient at discriminating all ten vowel sounds in words with these patterns.
  13. Follow-up with these skills should occur in the context of reading as students are aided in decoding words by being reminded to think about and identify the pattern when applicable and use what they know about the vowel sound in the particular pattern to sound it out.
  14. Further, when writing, students should be asked to encode words they don’t know how to spell (when phonetically regular) by using the auditory and tactile strategies mentioned above.


Informal, based on students’ oral responses in first activity and written and oral responses in second activity.

Supplemental information

The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists by Edward Fry, et al.


I have found that a focus on simple word patterns to decode and encode is particularly effective for young emerging readers or for older “non-readers” with learning deficits.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Foundational Skills

        • Grade 1
          • 1.RFS.2 Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes). 1.RFS.2.1 Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words. 1.RFS.2.2 Orally produce single-syllable words by blending sounds (phonemes), including...
          • 1.RFS.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. 1.RFS.3.1 Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs (two letters that represent one sound). 1.RFS.3.2 Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words....

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will develop and apply enabling strategies and skills to read and write.
    • Objective 1.01: Develop phonemic awareness and demonstrate knowledge of alphabetic principle:
      • count syllables in a word.
      • blend the phonemes of one-syllable words.
      • segment the phonemes of one-syllable words.
      • change the beginning, middle, and ending sounds to produce new words.
      • create and state a series of rhyming words that may include consonant blends (e.g., flag, brag).
    • Objective 1.02: Demonstrate decoding and word recognition strategies and skills:
      • generate the sounds from all the letters and appropriate letter patterns which should include consonant blends and long and short vowel patterns.
      • use phonics knowledge of sound-letter relationships to decode regular one-syllable words when reading words and text.
      • recognize many high frequency and/or common irregularly spelled words in text (e.g., have said, where, two).
      • read compound words and contractions.
      • read inflectional forms (e.g., -s, -ed, -ing) and root words (e.g., looks, looked, looking).
      • read appropriate word families.