How I Use a 2-Binder System To Stay Organized for Guided Reading


Isn’t it funny how guided reading lessons can take FOREVER to plan? One guided reading lesson is relatively short, and the time just flies by. But preparing for it can certainly be time-consuming!

When I’m working with groups at different levels (which is…always), it’s hard to keep everything straight.

Sometimes I forget which strategy I want to work on with groups at a certain level. Or I may neglect to work on certain concepts with a group or two, because I don’t remember the text challenges of their levels.

And often, I struggle to keep things new and fresh for the kids. We end up doing some of the same activities day after day. While guided reading is all about routines, my kids are definitely more engaged when I mix things up a bit.

What I’ve always dreamed of is a “bank” of guided reading resources. I wanted to have lessons, activities, visual supports, checklists, and other materials that were specific to each guided reading level. Essentially, I wanted to be able to go to this “bank” of resources, look for a group’s level, and have lots of materials to choose from!

Since I started organizing my Guided Reading Resource Packs, my dreams have come true! 🙂 I now have resources for each reading level (I’m going up through Level N) that are specifically designed for each reading level.

Now, I can look at a group’s level, go to my resources for that level, and pick a lesson, support, or activity that will meet the needs of the group. This is especially helpful in keeping things fresh for the kids – because I have different activities and materials set aside for each reading level!!

However, figuring out how to organize all these materials has presented its own challenges. So in today’s post, I’ll be showing you (through a video), how I keep everything organized using a 2-binder system.

Whether or not you use my guided reading materials, you should be able to take away some ideas for creating a guided reading organization system of your own! (And be sure to read to the end of the post, because I share the printable binder covers for free!)

This is the ONLY guided reading organization system that really works for me! I finally have all of my materials organized.

The Video


I keep a binder of masters and a binder for my day-to-day instruction.

The master binder is GREAT for grabbing and taking to the copy room – and it helps me keep my materials separate for each level.

My master binder is divided up into levels, and each level has four tabs:

  • Lessons, printable books, and assessment forms
  • Decoding and fluency resources
  • Comprehension and vocabulary resources
  • Word study and writing resources

I technically have more than one master binder, because I work with multiple grade levels. You may be able to fit all of your levels into one binder, but it just depends on your students and how big of a binder you want (my master binder is 3 inches).

My day-to-day binder is divided up into my different groups by tabs.

Behind each tab, I keep lesson plans (including blank forms) and any lists or resources I want to use with that group of students.

At the very end of my day-to-day binder, I keep blank running record forms. This makes it very easy for me to take a running record, because I just flip to the back of the binder. I score and remove the completed running records at the end of the day.

Amazon affiliate link for the insertable dividers:

Amazon affiliate link for the insertable zip pockets:

Guided Reading Materials

All of the materials shown in the video (other than the binders and inserts!) come from my guided reading resource packs. Click on any of the following bundle images to read more about them (note – you can get single-level packs, too, and I have additional bundle options available HERE).

Kindergarten guided reading bundle from Learning At The Primary Pond

And here are the binder covers, like I promised!

Here’s a set of master covers in three different colors (this is a PowerPoint file – if you want to include a label with the levels, just add a text box):

Here’s a cover for your day-to-day binder (a PDF file):


Happy teaching!


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6 years ago

Hi Alison,
Thanks for sharing the binder covers. However, when I went to download the Masters cover, it is not a full page. It shows one small full cover and then parts of it 3 other times all on one slide (hope that makes sense). Any ideas?


6 years ago
Reply to  Alison

I tried a few things, but still having the same problem.

6 years ago
Reply to  Alison

I cannot get it to come up on a full page either. I don’t see an option to “open in Microsoft powerpoint” 🙁

6 years ago

Hi Alison,

Do you plan on creating Guided Reading resources for any other levels? I teach 3rd grade and would love levels O-S!

3 years ago
Reply to  Alison

Is this still true or do you have resources available for upper grade levels yet? Thanks!

5 years ago

Hi Allison,

Do you have any plans to make Guided Reading Plans and Resources in Spanish Available?

5 years ago
Reply to  Alison

Hello Allison,
I was wondering if you were able to translate your writing units into Spanish (for kindergarten).

Kelly Miller
5 years ago

Hi Alison it’s me, KELLY from CHA-Kindergarten!!!! I thought I recognized you. Spending some of break doing school stuff and came across your site/blog!!! Actually got here through Pinterest! LOVE your stuff! I know I have bought or downloaded some of your materials before! Thank you so much! Will be digging deeper into all this Guided Reading stuff as I’m not really provided with anything at school! I’m really liking your GR leveled stuff for A-D readers. I’ll be back & in touch! Thanks again! Glad I found your site!!! Kelly

Effie Johnson
5 years ago

Thank you so much. Having two binders will keep me better organized. I plan to purchase some of your resources soon.

Again, Thanks
Effie Johnson

5 years ago

I love your videos! Your workshop was awesome by the way.This video was great! It gave me some ideas on how to organize myself some more! So I have a question, how do you take notes when you do guided reading and you are listening to each student read? A post it? Paper? Does each student have a section in a other binder? Thank you! I’ve been having a hard time trying to figure out a full on system.

KC Beecham
5 years ago

Oh my! How I wish someone would make something similar for levels O-Z! This looks wonderful.

5 years ago


These look wonderful! My school just adopted the Lucy Calkins Reading Workshop. Would your lessons correlate with that approach? Also, what leveling system are you using? F & P?

Mandi Presley
5 years ago

Do you have just the phonics resources and comprehension resources available for purchase? My school provides us with our GR texts.

4 years ago

Hi Alison!

I am just wondering what size binders do you use to fit in 4 levels?


4 years ago

Hi Alison,
Super excited about this great organization, but want d to ask about how you keep student data. In the guided reading packs you have checklists and such to keep track of how students are doing and where they are at. Do you have any tips for how to keep that? A folder for each kiddo, a binder with a tab for each kiddo? Maybe something I haven’t thought of?

4 years ago

Hi Alison,
Did you make up the stories to go with your guided reading material or will I perhaps find the books elsewhere? Our school has many books leveled but without lesson plans, etc.
The other thing I was wondering about is how long are the different leveled guided books are approximately. I have know idea about how much ink I might need on my home printer to get all the pages copied.
I hope you can let me know as soon as possible.



maria ortega
3 years ago

Hi Allison. I´ll be glad to bring you any help you could need for translation to Spanish. Just tell me! I´m a Spanish native speaking from Venezuela. Bye

3 years ago

Thank you for this valuable information.

6 months ago

I was unable to view the video.

Reply to  Anna

Try this link if the one in the blog isn’t working for you –

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