After your students know the difference between long and short vowels and they have learned the diacritical markings associated with each, they are now ready to learn the 5 Phonetic Skills. The phonetic skills help students establish the pattern for likely, and unlikely sequence of letters. And effectively they "break the code" of English.
Teaching phonetic skill number one, begin with a word that students can easily read. In the past they have "marked" their words, from now on you will ask students to "prove" their words. First the student works under the word putting an x under the vowel. Next you will introduce a new marking. The consonant will be called a "guardian consonant" and will be marked with a guardian star. The guardian consonant is always the consonant that comes after the vowel. Its job is to make the vowel short. So now you have "proven" why the vowel is short.
The 1st Phonetic Skill says: When the vowel has one guardian consonant, it will be short.
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