One of my favorite back-to-school items to stock up on are pocket folders! Usually I can find them for 10 cents!
I've had a couple people ask me how I use folders for guided reading. I always stock up on the two pocket folders when they go on sale for 10 cents. In fact, I make my whole family buy them!! I use them for intervention groups...but they can also be used for guided reading. Since we have fluid groups, I sometimes go through LOTS of folders.
On the first day, I always ask the students, what their favorite book is, and that night, I print out everyone's covers. The next day, their favorite cover is placed on the folder. It is so important for students to see themselves as readers. They love this activity. Sometimes I have to give them some suggestions, but they get so excited with their folder.
Depending on the grade level, depends what we put in the folders.
For kindergarten, I use the Kindergarten Helper by Michelle Oakes, the current story we are reading, and sight word cards. These are sight words that are individualized for each student, based upon their needs and the story we are reading. I just use index cards for the sight word cards.
For first and second grade, I'll sometimes use the Kindergarten Helper, but as they advance in guided reading level, I begin to include a fluency passage. This one is from Reading A to Z. Sometimes I'll use a poem :) These students also have sight word bags. Their words are based on each student's running records. Any words that were challenging go into their sight word bag.
I don't spend TONS of time using their sight word cards...Sometimes, if I'm taking a running record, I'll have students go through their sight words before they reread a familiar story. While we are reading, students will use highlighting tape, and they will highlight the words when they find them in their books. Other times, at the end of our time, I'll have students write a sentence with their word on their slate, and then share it with a partner.