A Simple (and Free!) Way to Plan Speech Therapy Sessions and Collect Data
Usually, I'm over here blogging about using technology in speech therapy, digital resources for SLPs, and hacks for teletherapists. But not today. Today I'm going to throw you for a loop. I'm sharing the simple, free, and printable method I use to plan speech therapy sessions and also take data.
Confession: While my SLP work life is nearly paperless, I've never been able to switch to digital everything. I am team physical planner for life, and I also use good ol' fashioned paper and pencil to plan therapy sessions, too. There I said it.
I have no doubt that there are tons of fancy websites, apps, and software programs that help SLPs with the daily tasks of planning and data collection. But that route isn't for everyone, including me. In fact, I recently polled my Instagram followers and found that 61% of them plan speech therapy sessions using a paper method and 81% take data on paper. We are actually the majority after all!
But I'm not abandoning technology completely. My setup starts in Excel, but you could also use Google Sheets or Numbers (on a Mac). If you're looking for a new semi-techy method, keep reading for the step-by-step!
I house all my students' goals in one Excel file that I've made (and that you can get for FREE here). The Excel file (which is actually called a workbook) has a tab with a spreadsheet for each of my students. These spreadsheets (which are actually called worksheets in Excel lingo) can be renamed so I can quickly find the one I need. The yellow arrow in the picture points to the tabs in the workbook.
As you see inside the yellow circle, I type each student's name, birth date, grade, and current speech and language goals into the top of each worksheet. Most of this can be copied and pasted from the IEP system to make it go faster.
Next, I print one or two worksheets for each student, hole-punch them, and put them in a binder. I arrange the pages in order of when I see the students throughout the week, with dividers for each day.
From here on out, I'm writing on printed pages. In the leftmost column of the page, I write an abbreviated version of each goal, such as "past tense verbs" or "/sh/ in all word positions". You could also type this (or any of the other subsequent steps) into the worksheet before printing.
Each of the other columns represents one therapy session. This is where I write the date of each session (the top row), the activities I plan to do in the session, and eventually the data (if I'm collecting it, which isn't every activity in every session).
When writing the names of the activities, I usually list the first few words so that later I...
a) know what I'm talking about and...
b) can quickly find them during the session.
Quick tip! For digital files (such as PDFs), purposefully naming them is helpful for staying organized and being efficient! For Boom Cards, I can quickly search my Boom library using the first few words of the deck title.
Then, during the therapy session, I use the box immediately under where the activity name is written to collect data. Personally, I use teeny tiny tallies (vertical for correct and horizontal for incorrect) and abbreviations for levels of cuing.
Farther down the column are places to write homework assignments, any notes about the student, and ideas you might have for the next speech therapy session (basically, the "S" and the "P" of the SOAP note). When I formally document the session later (using a computer because I'm not that primitive), I use what's noted in that day's column to write the whole thing.
With this system, I get about 8 sessions (columns) from each sheet and print more when needed. Having all the data condensed on one page makes it easy to review data at a glance for updating progress. Following an IEP meeting, I modify the goals on the Excel file and re-print the page. New worksheets (tabs) can be removed or added as the caseload changes (directions for Excel here and Google Sheets here).
And there we have it. No innovative and techy system for this digital-loving SLP. But hopefully this not-so-fancy method strikes a chord with someone and helps them streamline their speech therapy planning and data collection. Remember that you can get my speech therapy planning and data tool for free here!