Front Loading gives my students an opportunity to preview skills or information in advance of it being taught to them. I used to only do Front Loading in the opening of my lessons, but now we have blended learning programs that allow my students to front-load information whenever they start reading. Some examples of Front Loading using online programs are iReady, which has additional lesson assignment capability, and MyOn, which allows my students to preview text about upcoming topics.
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.
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.
In Teacher Vs. Students, students compete against the teacher in a quick game of listening and participation. Typically we play this game after a general phonics rule has been taught and students have to practice hearing it for phonological practice. Rather than me just reading a word asking them to identify the sound, I am using the taught rule(s) and turning into a game of friendly competition to show that they are smarter than the teacher. It's important though, to be honest. If I win, I explain what they should practice more of and then try it again another day.