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

  1. 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?


  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

    • Hey Vanessa! Great question. I have tried so many different things in this area! What’s ended up working best for me is leveled checklists. I keep blank ones in my daily binder, and then I choose 1 student to focus on per group. I take a checklist that’s at their level (or quite close to it), and fill it out + add any other notes. I sometimes keep those checklists in my daily binder for a little while so I can refer to them and maybe add on, but then eventually move them to manila folders (I keep one for each student).

      I do also take some anecdotal notes right on the lesson plans to guide me in creating future plans, too! I hope this helps!

  5. Hi

    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?

    • Hi Kim! I actually haven’t read her reading workshop units – but my materials do fit into a workshop model, as long as you are doing guided reading with it! And yep, those are F&P levels. 🙂


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

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