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How to quick start your reading groups

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

For quite a while now I have been looking for a Guided Reading system that worked for my classroom. I needed something that the class would get excited about, kept the parents informed of progress and was easy for me to maintain. After looking through various blogs, products and polling other teachers I realized I had to create my own system. There just wasn't anything that met enough of my needs out there that I could find. So for several months now I have been piecing together what may be the best thing I have ever made for my classroom. GUIDED READING BINDERS!!!!!

I have been using these binders with Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade over the past 10 years. I cannot believe it has been that long since I made this initial set! Parts of this post are from the original post I made in 2011! ( and so are some of the grainy pictures, sorry!)

Parents, Kids and Admin are happy with the organization, differentiation and professional image these binders give our school. These binders tell parents we are serious about reading instruction and that we want them to get involved. I provide many activity ideas for parents to extend learning and have increased yearly testing data exponentially using these resources. Not to mention the kids love working in their binders. If they are not specifically reading a book they can dry erase their sight words, built their CVC words, practice their blend/sound posters etc.

I had always used simple folders with a reading log and the weeks books. There was no space to send home more literacy building resources that the children could work on. When I would send home extra resources in the kiddos backpacks I would either never get them back or they would get lost in the child's home for a while. I also wanted everything for each group in one place, making our limited meeting time more efficient. I am no longer hunting for supplies, everything is inside the binder. It is also easy to switch out resources, communicate with parents, complete assessments and conduct smooth reading groups. These guided reading binders fix so many of the problems I was having. Here are views of the binder spine inserts, inside and back cover choices:

Sure, this took some time and money to put together. I used some Amazon Gift Cards I had been given by my students parents and some Amazon gift cards I had earned through swagbucks (to find out about earning through swagbucks use this link: Swagbucks). In the INDIVIDUAL GUIDED READING BINDERS FILE I have outlined and given pictures of each item I am using in my binders. I purchased most of the items on Amazon and a few at my local dollar store. Many of these items have lasted several year without needing to be replaced as often as I had anticipated. These binders have turned out to be well worth the original time and money. My kiddos love them, my parents are excited to work with their children and I am one happy teacher!

Items to gather for assembly:

  1. 1"Binders with outer and inner pockets (amazon)

  2. Colored file dividers ($1 store)

  3. Plastic binder pockets 8.5x11 ($1 store)

  4. Pencil bags with zipper and binder grommets ($1 store)

  5. Page protectors (amazon)

  6. Magnetic Letters (amazon)

  7. Magnetic craft sheet for use with magnetic letters (amazon)

  8. Dry erase sheets, self adhesive (amazon)

  9. Cardstock for printing covers, posters and sight word cards ($1 store)

  10. Dry erase markers and erasers (amazon)

I purchased everything I needed and gathered it on my kitchen table. You can get as simple or detailed as you want with these binders. Several things I bought were used in more than one binder making things a bit more economical. I outline all of this in my unit on TpT. I assembled the binders, printed out the covers and introduced them to my students. I sent an email to my parents preparing them for this binder, there is also a section within the binder that explains it's contents and provides activity ideas for at home. Each binder has a pocket for manipulatives, a dry erase surface, reading log, lesson plans, parent resources, learning posters, extra support books and assessments. I also created a master binder for myself with copies of everything included in the student binder plus pages that I use during guided reading. Here is my binder:

So now that we all have our binders how do we use them? Simple, each morning the children unload their binder into a bucket in the hall which I later bring into the classroom. Then when it is time each child brings their binder to the table when called. We start by reviewing this weeks sight words, vocabulary words and learning posters. Once we have done that we go through a few of my teaching pages, reviewing syllables, rhymes, decoding etc. Then we get down to reading our book. I often will complete one of the student pages below with them or send it home for homework. While the group talks about comprehension I write their homework in their log and record anything necessary in their assessment section. I go over sight word assessments on Fridays making my groups 3-5 minutes longer than my other three days.

Also included in the file are editable power point files for you to customize. Create your own specific learning needs then add your name, school and class. Individualize differentiated instruction by editing these files to meet each students needs.

  1. Flash Cards

  2. Bingo Cards

  3. Lesson Planning Pages

  4. Reading Logs

  5. Parent Letter

  6. Task Cards

Here we are enjoying our binders, I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Get your copy by clicking on the following pictures.

Here are some other products that might interest you!

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