The decoding boards, which are your basic dry erase boards, help students visually see what their brains do as they read which is looking for blends, digraphs, long/short vowels etc. Rather than simply reading off the board, I have students write the words we practice in phonics and write the diacritical marks that support and show them how to decode words along the way that then support their reading.
I make sure that my students have heard the directions I've given using this simple but effective check for understanding strategy. Having students repeat directions or an expectation provides them with an opportunity to re-state or clarify their understanding. For example, if a student responds incorrectly, I don't just move on to another student all the time. I ask the same question in a different way so that my student who initially responded incorrectly, unclearly, or incompletely has another opportunity to answer with more clarity. Thumbs Up, I Get This! is another way to hold students accountable during their independent time.
One of my goals as a first grade teacher is to develop independent learners that can problem solve or decide when it is time to request assistance from others. Self-reliance is a need that many parents talk to me about during conferences and as a result, I've turned to two different strategies in the classroom that allow students to continue their work while informing me of their comfort level of the task. These strategies are known as self monitoring tools that help me to prioritize which students I need to assist first.
Flash Fluency is a strategy I use during guided reading sessions to make immediate adjustments to my instruction, based on my students' needs. To gather the information I need, I give a reading fluency check to one student from the group using a current or cold read text. The student reads for one minute while I keep track of miscues and make observations. It is followed by a quick comprehension check. Once this is completed, I address the student's needs immediately with the entire small group. Since my reading groups are homogenous, one student's needs are generally reflective of the needs of the other students in the group.