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.
Wonder Word is a quick review game where I take phonics strategies that have been previously taught and integrate them into a game of hot potato. Basically, words are passed around in a circle and when the chant is over, students have to be able to read the word. There are no real consequences if a student is unable to read it, and can ask a friend to help. The idea is that students can quickly recall and demonstrate what they know.
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.
My class is divided into two heterogeneous groups. Each group spends half its time working with me and the other half working independently on computers. Get Set is the strategy I use to prepare my students for the activity they will be starting. I may also give some additional directions during this time that reinforce behavioral or academic expectations. During this strategy, students who are going to the computers go to a shelf that contains their headphones and then proceed to line up near the computers. When I see that most students are set to begin, I tell them to proceed and to log in.