A Glance Into My Guided Reading Binder!

Happy Friday, Friends!  I hope you all had a fabulous week.  This summer, I led a two day workshop called Success with Small Groups and it was SO much fun! During my workshop, I shared my Guided Reading binder with my class.  I thought I would do a blog post for you with a glimpse into what my Guided Reading binder looks like inside.   Here we go! 🙂
Welcome to my Guided Reading binder!  I used my sweet friend, Haley O’Connor’s Colorful Editable Teacher Planner pack to make my cover. Let’s open it up!

When you open it up, my weekly guided reading plans are the first thing you will see.  I keep my plans short and sweet. I’m big on having a FOCUS for each small group but I’m careful not to plan too much on purpose.  I want my reading groups to guide themselves based on my students’ reading actions and our discussions.  I write down the new book I will introduce, any vocabulary words I want to preview to set them up for success when they whisper read, and a main focus.  
A FAQ I receive is: “Do you see every group every day?”
Truthfully, I USED to for the past few years that I’ve had the inclusion room. I was blessed to have an intervention specialist in my room during my Daily 5 time, so between the two of us, we saw every child every day – often more than once a day.  It was the definition of Teacher Heaven.
But this year I am taking a break from having the inclusion room, which means I am now back to this place the rest of you probably call “reality.”  I do not see every group every day but I do see my lowest two groups every day.  I see my other top 2 groups three times a week and once a week during our intervention time. (So essentially, they still get four reading groups a week. #iloveinterventiontime)  I also have two little friends this year reading WAY above everyone else. They join my top group but the three of us always meet separately on Fridays and additionally during our intervention time throughout the week in individual conferences.
When I start my guided reading groups, my students reread familiar books from previous days out of our Fluency Basket.  While they are “warming up their brains” as I say, I take a running record on a focus child from the group.  I flip to my Focus Child Checklist page, and choose a child from the group. I check them off and take my running record.  This gives me a simple, easy glance at who I have done a running record on, and who still needs one.  Once my class has all been given one running record, I move on to column #2 and start again. This just keeps me focused and ensures I am reaching every child within the class. (You can see that my list is not very complete yet. I took this picture last week and we have only been in school for 4 weeks.) 🙂
Above is an example of a running record I took on a child last week. When I study the errors he made, it was clear he was using his visual and syntactic cuing systems when he read. His errors all started with the same letter as the word and they made sense within the structure of the sentences. However, he was not activating his semantic cuing system because his errors did not have any meaning to the text.  After reading with him for just a few minutes, I jotted down a note at the bottom that the strategy “Check for Understanding” and summarizing each page is the direction I want to go with for this little one.  (I often don’t take the running record on the whole book – I want enough to get a quick snapshot of his current reading skills.) The rest of his group was making errors in sight words and decodable text.  This little guy was reading too high for this group, so my running record helped me know that I needed to change his small group to a higher leveled group. 
This is my favorite part of my binder!  I laminated a page that coordinates with the colors of my guided reading groups. (If you use animals or shapes for your groups, you could put those on the page.) I stick every child’s name on a Post-It Note sticky tab when I arrange my students into their initial reading groups.  This makes it EASY for me to quickly move my students based on their running records and weekly needs.  Groups are flexible and never stay the same for very long. 
Remember my little guy who needed to move to a higher group? You can see that while I was taking his running record, it was easy for me to move his name to the next group because the page was right there with me in my binder.  I don’t want to risk forgetting to move his name at the end of the day and the idea that I can just re-stick a tab is perfect for helping me keep the mentality that data and my groups are ever-changing. 
At the end of the day, or often the end of the week, I file all of the running records I took. Each child has a tab in my binder with his or her number on it. This helps me keep a collection of each child’s running records throughout the year so I can refer to them and track progress/lack of progress.  By the end of the year, these forms become a “diary” of each child’s reading instruction throughout their first grade learning year. 
Does it take me some extra time? Yes. But we have ONE year to make as much reading progress as we can with our students.  It’s important to me that I make every small group experience count. 
So there it is – a look into my guided reading binder!  I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps it even gave you a few ideas to take back to your small group binder! 🙂 
Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the teaching world!

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    1. Mrs. Barber,

      No, not currently. The only pages I made were the laminated page and my class checklist. You could use any class list for your focus checklist – even a roster list. 🙂

  1. Thanks for this post! What do you file at the end of your binder, after the running records? Do you have template to record observations during guided reading? Is that on TPT?

  2. Thanks for this post! I really love the idea of using sticky tabs, definitely makes the moving process that much easier. I am glad to know I am not the only one who can't meet with every group everyday. It is nice to have everything you need in one place!

  3. I have a binder as well, but definitely not as detailed! I love it. So I just had an OMG why didn't I think of that moment. I never thought to meet with my high groups during intervention! Duh! I am always so focused on my lower doodle bugs. Thanks for sharin 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing your binder!! You have some great ideas that I will be incorporating into my Daily 5/Cafe Menu binder. Just like you I have a special location for each student in my binder. I like to keep a copy of the Cafe Menu reading strategy list at the beginning of each students section and as they work on a strategy I highlight it. It is a quick reference page for me. Did you create your running record page?

    Dancing Through the Days with Mrs Gadicke

  5. Thank you for sharing. You helped me visualize ideas that were swimming around in my head. Question: What are you using for your fluency testing? Is it cold reads? I work at a small private school so I don't have official testing and benchmark tasks in my old reading curriculum.

  6. Oh my gosh! That laminated, color co-ordinated, flexible group page is awesome! I'm having one of those "duh!" moments. So easy to change up each week, so easy to see at a glance. Seriously, thanks.

  7. Love this! So many fantastic ideas. As a first year teacher I have been really trying to get my guided reading just right and this is going to be a great help. Thank you 🙂
    Early Years with Sheri

  8. what do you use for running records? Is it a text chosen by the student? By you? I assume it's something they've never read before? Just wondering how you choose the books to use for your running records! Do you discuss the story as well or is it all about accuracy for your running records?

  9. Hi Cristina, I was wondering if you would be willing to share or make your colored flexible grouping page available to those of us less technologically inclined! I use these colors to for my groups and would love to have this page.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing. Never thought to use post it flags for the flexible groupings – duh. I would love a copy of your running records recording page and your colored groups page. You should add them to your TPT store. Thanks again!

  11. I am a new kindergarten teacher (just finished my first year, woo hoo!). I really want to improve my guided reading groups next year and start them sooner in the year (started in October this year). I was wondering if you had any recommendations on formatting a small group for beginning kinders…I know you teach first grade, but your blog/ideas are brilliant and I just thought I'd ask?! Thanks 🙂

  12. I'm a little bit of an organization nerd, and I LOVE your binder! 🙂 I'm trying to revamp my method of organizing my small-group classes, and this has given me a fresh idea. I like the way you made one color-coordinated page for your groups. Thanks so much for sharing! I'm going to follow you on TPT and Pinterest as well. 🙂

  13. Hi! I love your post. It is so helpful and helped me get a vision for how to organize my binder!

    2 questions:
    1. How long do you spend with each group?
    2. When you do your running records, are you having students do a cold read or on a book they read previously in your GR group?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Madison! 🙂 Thanks for visiting my blog. I spend about 25 minutes with each group. When we do a running record, it is from a book we read the day before. 🙂

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