When I think back to my first and second year working, what I remember the most are all the different papers I had strewn about my table, desk, and yes, even the floor on some days. Data sheets, referral forms, reports, summaries, IEPs, etc. I’m painting a pretty picture here, right? Well, I remember thinking * many times * “There has to be a less messy way to do this.”
Over the years, and after a whole of trial and error, I finally figured out some ways to actually go paperless!!! Now I am not a super techy person, just ask my family, so if I can make these systems work than trust me, so can you.
The first part and for me, the most important and paper reducing, the big D, DATA. Oh data. All those tallies and numbers have to go somewhere right? Back in the day, I used to have binders with specific data tracking sheets for each of my student’s individual goals. I would spend way too much time at the end of each day transferring my tallies from my post-its to percentages in my binders, the stacks and stacks of binders that I had sitting on my desk from all the kids I saw that day. There were some days I felt like I was sitting behind skyscrapers they were piled so high, let me tell you.
Now I use IEP PAL to collect data on articulation, phono, and language goals for my IEP and RtI kids. The language goals I track with IEP PAL are ones that can be tallied, so yes/no, correct/incorrect kind of goals. I can track their responses, how many prompts/cues they were given per trial, along with what kind ( visual or verbal ), as well as behaviors which comes in super handy if our psych and/or social working are also working on tracking something specific. The feature that made me go absolutely head over heels for this program was that IT AVERAGES ALL THE DATA FOR YOU! You heard right folks, this program will average all your data, BY INDIVIDUAL GOAL for what ever time frame you set, at just the click of a button. It has saved me countless hours and lots of headaches on progress reports. It will also generate a graph of progress too which is extremely helpful to have in meetings. I don’t even have to print it off, I can show it all from my tablet or laptop.
That brings me to the other part I like about this program. It stores all the data. So when it comes to keeping data for X amount of years for a student, I can do so without losing space in my filing cabinet. If you do want a hard copy to have on hand, you can print it out and just have a few page summary of a years worth of data versus the half a ream of paper that you may have collected using a paper system.
For non-talliable data, like social skills goals, carry-over monitoring, etc, I use rubrics. Quick disclosure, I love rubrics with all the heart-eye emojis! Now, to go paperless with rubrics you have a few options such as making your own in Excel or Google Sheets. There is nothing wrong that but I like to record my rubric data right when I finish with the student 1) because it is fresh in my head and 2) because I can do it in 2 seconds and be done. So, I like to use an app called Notability. You may have heard of this app before, it let’s you write on PDFs and save them. I can upload my student’s rubrics into the app and just open them up when I need to record and save them. Another perk is that I can use it on my tablet and since I am not always in my room working with my kids ( and therefore not recording data in my room ) it is a huge help.
Now that our data is paperless and no longer taking up space on tables, desks, floors, or any other space it may have previously occupied, let’s move onto screenings. Oh screenings, a necessary evil. A screening can give us so much helpful information in short amount of time and that means sometimes we give more than one, which means, you guessed it, more paper. For screenings I can recommend two options: Using your favorite screener on Notability or using SLP ToolKit.
With Notability you would just upload your screener, doodle away on your tablet as your student responds, then save it. SLP ToolKit is an online SLP program ( that you can access from any device ) that has tons of pre-made screeners for Pre-K on up. You just fill in some information about your student, choose the screener you want and BOOM, you are ready to go. The screener is saved in the program and since you can look it up on any device so you can go and look back at it any time you need to, like in a progress meeting for the student when they ask how the screening went and you forgot their file back in your room.
Now how about activities? If your really feeling adventurous about going paperless you can test out some of the no prep and digital SLP resources out there. I am a huge fan of no prep, mainly because I have no time to really prep anything. This means print and go. I have several No Prep activities in my TpT store ( and others ) that I will bring up in the Notability app and use with my kids. No printing necessary. You can also try SLP NOW, which is an membership site run by an SLP with lots of ready made lessons for you to access.
What about homework? If you are someone who likes to send home activities for kids to do to practice their skills, see if parents are up to receiving them via email. That way they can bring up the work any time, anywhere, to practice.
So, the big question. Are you ready to go paperless?