Data Collection

It’s sad to say, but one of my favorite parts of my jobs is organizing.  Folders, printed materials, labels, dividers, hole punches, highlighters… It all makes me giddy.  There was an empty filing cabinet in the conference room; It was the HUGE kind where the drawers go lengthwise.  I asked if I could have it and my wish was granted – it was like Christmas!  I covered it in damask print contact paper and couldn’t have been more excited.  Seriously.

Anyway, I will tell you how I utilize these 4 huge drawers.  The bottom 2 are filled with books/resources that I don’t need often.  They’re mostly workbooks whose pages I would photocopy for students, but rarely do so.  The top one is filled with my personal poly-files organized by area of speech/language (red=aRtic, blue=Basic concepts, green=GRammar, yellow=Language (misc), white=pragmatics).  See what I did there?  I did those from memory and chose that arrangement because it makes sense to me.  Dork, I know.

The second drawer is filled with my students’ folders.  It’s the drawer that is closest to eye/hand level and makes reading the names on the folders easy.  Each student has a folder.  It is a beautiful, sturdy folder with a divider in it, and a clasp at the top of each.  This is a very expensive version (my school was kind enough to buy me 75 of them!) but there are similar, cheaper options out there.

When you open the folder, the left side has the data collection sheet.  Each data sheet has a chart that I made in Word.  The top row has each of the student’s goals (in my own, shortened words).  The first column on the left has pre-filled spaces for date, minutes, group size, and group type (all mandated requirements for Medicaid purposes).  Then there is also a “comments” column on the far right.  Each day takes up one row.  I can usually get about 4 sessions worth of data on one sheet, more for some kids.  Download an editable version of the data sheet here.

I personally need all of a student’s goals written out so I can see them while I’m working.  Yes, I tend to know their goals, but this type of chart makes it easy to see what you’ve done recently and what you may have been neglecting.  Also, let’s say you are working on artic, but the student uses a pronoun correctly (also one of his/her goals).  You can easily put a “+” in that column.  That way, it doesn’t go unnoticed and you don’t waste time writing what it was that the student did.  If the student is absent that day, or I’m in a meeting, I just write a zero on the minutes line and write the “excuse” in the first box.  It takes 2 seconds and there’s no question of why therapy wasn’t held.

Data sheet with some percentages & attendance calendar

With the folder open like this, the page on the right is my attendance calendar.  Each day, Monday through Friday, has a space for a code.  The codes are listed at the top of the page, for easy reference for yourself or anyone else who may need it.  They include: “W” for weather closure, “G” for group, “SA” for student absent, “TU” for therapist unavailable, and more.  It consists of 3 pages: Oct-Dec, Jan-Mar, Apr-June.  (I didn’t start using that type of attendance until October, that’s why there is no September.)  Here is a copy for you to try.

When the middle page/divider is turned, you’ll find the student’s IEP on the left side.  I only print the pages that are relevant to me – usually the goals and the service hours.  I print them double sided; open to the top (as opposed to the side) so that when you lift it and it is in the clasp, you can still read it without turning the whole folder.  Or, you could do one sided printing if your printer doesn’t allow for this.

The last side is the right side, where I keep extra data sheets.  That way, when one fills up, I have plenty right there.  At the beginning of the year or an IEP period, I usually print about 20 sheets and use my handy two hole punch.  I put the new one right on top of the previous one and they all end up in chronological order.  When a calendar page fills up, I also put that on top of the used data sheets.  At the end of the year, I use one of those big paper clips to keep it all together and put it all in the student’s working file.  (Those are held in another drawer that is opened far less often.)

Student’s IEP, extra data sheets, and accuracy chart (loose)

Some of you may remember my post about students graphing their own accuracy.  I just keep this piece of paper loose between the IEP and the extra data sheets tabs.  That area isn’t opened all that often and it’s easy to pull out the accuracy chart so the student can color it.  I also stick worksheets in there too, if applicable.

During the therapy session, I take out each student’s folder.  I write the applicable code in the attendance calendar, then fold the whole folder over so that only the data sheet is visible.  I then stack them on top of each other in the order the students are sitting.

For about a year, I’ve used Super Duper’s Data Tracker app.  In the app, I do my + and – tracking.  Then, at the end of the session, I transfer the percentage to the data sheets.  However, before I used the app, I did my + and – writing right in the folders.  The app definitely makes it easier, but it’s not essential to this system.

A variation of this system is the one I used in my first clinical placement in grad school.  I have been using it from my first day as a CF and I truly love it.  It’s easy to refer to and very visual.  You know at a glance what you’ve targeted recently and what you haven’t. If you, or your district, can’t afford the folders I use, I know there are similar, cheaper, manila versions of them.

If you don’t shift to the whole system. I hope you can at least use one element of it to make your life a little easier!