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.
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 teach students how to read by focusing on the use of phonics rules to decode words of all types. Phonics Word-Coaching is a strategy where students refer back to the various strategies they've learned. Through the use of diacritical marks to label specific sounds in words, students take apart words and reblend them in order to read the words. The idea behind it is that eventually students will recognize these strategies without having to actually write the diacritical marks and are able to do it by sight. It's fact fluency for the reader.
I attempt to begin every class lesson with a "hook" that will help my students get excited about what they're going to learn. The Text Connections Hook is a strategy I use to support my students to make text connections while they are reading. The gestures I model in this strategy help my students remember the meaning behind each type of text connection and get excited about making these connections.