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.
The vocabulary game is a way for students to practice word meaning embedded at the end of a phonics lesson. To play, a word, phrase or meaning is given and students need to write the word from the decoded phonics words. Once they have a word written they seek the approval by me with a thumbs up to signal when they wrote the correct word, or a thumbs down to have them try again. The use of the thumb provides an anonymous check for understanding.
Struggling readers often struggle for various reasons. These can include a lack of understanding of phonics skills or not knowing the grade level sight words. This strategy shows a student undergoing a round of sight word practice by having him read a word on a card or post-it. This strategy allows the student to self assess by sorting words that he can read or can't read. By providing a visual of how many he knows versus how many he doesn't know allow him to feel successful, but at the same time understand that before his "I Can Read" pile grows larger, he will need to study all the difficult words he didn't know.
Saved by the Bell is a throwback to the old sitcom of my days. During guided reading I use a bell as a means for non-verbal student management, particularly with noise level. One ring of the bell indicates a warning to all that the room is getting loud. Two bells indicates that individuals who I spot are still not keeping their noise level down will run the risk of changing a behavior star. The expectations were set as a class and therefore students know they will be held accountable.