Keeping your guided reading materials, lessons, observations, running records and such can be overwhelming for new teachers and more experienced teachers alike! My school, my first year of teaching was binder happy (I’m sure some of you can relate!) and so naturally I worked on a system to keep all of my materials in a binder.
Looking back, I am super thankful for the binder-mindset, because it makes for a breeze to flip to my lessons, reading logs, running records, etc. It also makes for an uncluttered table, which I love! I’ve revamped it as I’ve learned how to simplify. Here are a few guided steps to how I set mine up.
- Insert front cover into binder and spine. Get yours by clicking the picture or download free here. I’ve also made a paid chevron version which is super cute.
- Place velcro onto the binder’s inside front and back covers for a calculator (place it so you can still access it when pages are open) and for a pen and highlighter (I’m right handed- so I keep mine on the right.)
I keep a file on my computer in a quickly accessible plate for weekly updating. These are my daily lesson plans*/observation pages. I am able to change the grouping and dates to plan for the next week. I don’t plan farther than that in advance since they grow and change so much in the strategies they try! I bind all old plans together using a binder clip so I can turn to today’s lesson plans quickly.
It’s a place for me to write the title each group will be working on and a place for me to do multiple things: highlight kinders I want to do a running record on; make anecdotal notes of what they did during their reading; place for me to write what we focused on, had difficulty with, need to work on next time. I use a lot of my own version of shorthand/running record type of marks to jot quickly.
Last year, I found myself not remembering the good, specific things I see my kinders who are engaged at their literacy centers doing that I like to edify in my weekly newsletter to parents. So I added a section at the bottom for me to mark down 1-2 positive things I notice and a place to make other notes. This is my way of giving myself a place to jot things completely unrelated that I want to remember later.
- Insert a writable tab divider (great invention!) for each student. Label with names. These are super friendly for moving around when re-organizing your flexible groups and you can re-use next year. Just erase!
- Hole punch an individual reading log for each student on the right side of the paper. (Shows reading growth at a glance, last time you took a RR, what books they’ve already read, etc.) Great for documentation!
- On each child’s tab use double-sided tape to stick their indiv. reading log. So when you turn to their tab, it automatically takes you to both their log (to fill out each day as you read with that group) and their RR pages in one flip. Add student name to the top.
- Hole punch two running record sheets (copied double-sided) for each child. This way you are set with eight blank running records records to use at the drop of a hat!
This is how each child’s section looks when I flip their tab open (minus the cool handwriting).
Now I can set up my binder for the upcoming school year at the end of every year by just making enough copies and it’s refreshing to find it practically ready to go once my kinders have their foundational concepts in place. All I have to add is their names!