Organizing Your Digital Materials for Teletherapy
After 6 years of being a teletherapist, I’ve almost completely suppressed the memories of worksheets crammed in file drawers, missing articulation cards and board game pieces, and shelves crammed with toys that I forgot were even there. However, we teletherapists aren’t completely immune to chaos in the organization department. While there are many effective methods for organizing your no-print resources, I’ve got a few tips to help you get all of your digital ducks in a row.
First step– store all downloaded files in a folder on your desktop. When you're ready to open an activity, your catalog of materials is one click away, rather than hidden within another folder. Even just one less click goes a long way when you calculate how many times you’ll access the folder in any given week!
A folder on the desktop. Got it. Now what? I promise that this next part isn't me trying to take the easy way out, but how you organize that file is a personal preference. Personally, I have subfolders for each major goal area (articulation, life skills, social language, syntax, fluency, etc). But then I keep the subfolder party going within each of those. Because when it comes down to it, can you ever be too organized? #ofcoursenot
For example, within my articulation folder, I have folders for each sound (well, technically I group the cognate pairs together, but now I'm splitting hairs), plus a folder for activities that have multiple targets. In my syntax folder, I have subfolders for conjunctions, pronouns, and verbs. Organizing by goal area makes the most sense to me for planning purposes, but some SLPs might find it more logical to organize by age group, creator, theme, or activity type (i.e. interactive PDFs, static PDFs, mazes, hidden pictures, etc).
Fairly self-explanatory so far, right? Now here's the golden nugget you've been waiting for.... Be intentional about how you name the file. Make the file name something that can easily be searched. When you open the folder with all of your therapy resources (known as File Explorer in Windows), rather than clicking through all the subfolders to find the resource, it's often much faster to search for key words. Think of it as your own personal Google.
With the mindset that the search box (circled above) is a search engine, think about what words to include in each file name that you might use to search for therapy activities in the future. Think about the goal(s) it targets, the age group that it's most appropriate for, the type of activity it is, and the theme (if applicable). If you have included these key pieces of information in the file name, future searches using key words will quickly yield all the resources that apply to what you're looking for (i.e. ’High School Vocabulary Mazes Valentine's Day).
Hold on for a quick and somewhat obvious disclaimer: As you can see from the images in this post, I have a Windows computer. For Mac computers, this will look different, but the concepts in this post still apply!
Anyway. So how do you change the name of a file to include key words? Go to the folder where you have the file saved, right-click on the file name, select 'Rename', type in the new file name, and hit 'Enter.' On a Mac, use the directions listed here.
FYI-- Any resource that you download from Teachers Pay Teachers is given the name of the resource‘s title all smashed together.... no spaces. For example, my Idioms in Context activity has the file name, "IdiomsinContextFigurativeLanguageWorksheets+BOOM CARDS™Activity.pdf" when downloaded. I know, don't blame me, I'm just the messenger. Since that word jumble is not going to locate the file when you search for it at a later date, you'd want to rename it before (or immediately after) you move it to its forever home in your therapy resources folder. I might even add the phrases “figurative language” and “middle school” to the title to help with future searches.
A few other tidbits:
You can use a similar system on Google Drive (or any other cloud-based storage) if you don't have sufficient hard drive storage for all your resources, or if you need to access your resources from multiple locations.
Organizing frequently used websites is as easy as setting up bookmark links on your browser, which I highly recommend. I have a folder on the bookmarks bar of my browser that houses all websites that I regularly use in teletherapy. Two clicks and I'm on the site I need!
Boom Cards! You probably guessed that I won't leave those out of any post, right? Boom Cards are cloud-based, so decks are organized within your personal library on the Boom Learning platform and not your computer. Once you have a collection of decks in your library, I recommend organizing them into folders. See this help center article for more information! No screenshot is provided here because, well, do as I say, not as I do 😬
A quick note about planning— when I plan sessions (using this freebie), I often just write the first few words of the file names that I plan to use, since it only takes me a moment to open it as the session is starting and I’m greeting the student. Too many applications and websites open in the background can slow down your computer. There, there. I'm here to tell you that it's ok to open the resources you need in the first 30 seconds of each session, rather than all at once every morning.
Wait! Before you kick off an all-nighter to organize your files, remember that the biggest key to digital organization is creating a file name that will help you quickly and easily search for the file for years to come. It's the week before Earth Day? Type 'earth' in the file explorer search box and you'll see all that you have with that theme. Need something for predicting? No problem, if you've labeled any resources that target that goal as such! Done and done. A little bit of preparation now and as you accumulate new resources will pay off in precious planning time in the years to come!