Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paperwork---going from pencil to Google (Episode 2)

A few days ago, I wrote about creating customized therapy note paper forms for each client (or kid, in my setting).  Once I do that, I have the information I need to create a Google form and spreadsheet for collecting data.  It's up-front, labor intensive work (for a day), but once I have the perfect form, I can fill it out rather quickly on a computer or an iPad after I see a child (or after you see an adult--depending on your circumstance). 

I wrote a previous tutorial about creating Google forms.  You can check out that tutorial here!

Now, I would like to highlight what information I collect for my Google forms.  I already have a diagnosis code on the paper form; the child's birthdate, and the IEP dates are on the paper form; and  my signature and ASHA credentials will be on the paper form for each session.  The data I collect for the session on the Google form includes:

  • date of session (use the 'text' option when creating the form)
  • session characteristics---was it individual, group of 2, group of 3, in the speech therapy room, in the classroom, in a resource room?  (use the 'checkboxes' option)
  • if no speech, why?---was the student absent, was the therapist absent, was there a meeting during speech time, was the student suspended....... (use the 'multiple choice' option)
  • minutes of the session---how long does this last?  (use the 'text' option)
  • Now comes the meat of your session.  Different types of data require different types of Google questions.  A common goal for language therapy is requiring the child to answer wh-questions.  I prefer to use a 'grid' for this.  
  •  Another common question type is to state a percentage.  You will need to take actual data on a piece of paper.  The results of this will go into the Google therapy note as a percentage. You will need to use a multiple choice option for this.
  • Something I always include is a 'description of the session'.   This will be a "paragraph text" when you are looking at the form item choices.  That's when I really sit at my computer and write the abbreviated schedule of activities of the session.  I type faster  and clearer than I handwrite, so when people read my notes, they will see exactly what happened, in a more narrative form.  
  • I now ask in the form,  'what skilled interventions were used during therapy?'.  This was originally created for Medicaid documentation but actually makes me think and justify therapy for all kids.   You can do what you want with this---list intervention techniques in a 'paragraph text' form, or use a 'checkbox' format.  The underlying principle here is that you have to say why a speech therapist is needed to work with a client.  What skills do you bring with you that another person who is not an SLP can't do?

  •  After a session was completed,  a required question to answer is "Was adequate progress made?"    This is a 'multiple choice format'----see below. 
Here is an example of a real form for an unnamed student.  This was based on an IEP that I inherited.  I feel that by using this form, I've recorded adequate data to report on his progress.


The bottom line is that the IEP goals drive what I do, and how I create a Google form.  Up front, it's labor intensive, but using these forms helps to drive my data collection and therapy note reporting.  Ultimately, I'm a better therapist, and can use my detailed notes to report on student progress.

Episode 3 will be on using this format to write progress reports, and how to collect all of this into 'working student folders'.  


  1. Ruth, After your tutorial on Google Docs last year, I became determined to make the switch and was able to get my school to agree (confidentiality issues, etc.). To have you go so much more in depth and answer all the questions I've had now that I've started...I'm THRILLED! A million thanks! Looking forward to meeting you at ASHA, Kim (aka Activity Tailor)

  2. Ruth - I am wanting to revamp my system before the start of the spring semester and this has me very intrigued. I have set up an attendance form, which I think will be very useful, but am uncertain how to go about the IEP goal forms. My concern is that I will determine in a week or so, when I work on a specific goal, that I don't have enough options on the form to fulfill what I want to include. I guess my concern is that I will want to edit the form to be more specific in an area, but will alter the entire form and erase the data that has been entered previously. Is this a possibility? Have you altered the Google form for a student after you began using it?

    1. Hi Courtney, Thanks for your question. It's easy to alter a form by adding new items. Editing the existing items heavily however, may cause your form/spreadsheet to malfunction. With existing questions, though, you can add choices (edit the question) but don't completely change the question type. I hope this makes sense--i.e. you can add more choices to checkboxes or multiple choice, but you can't change a multiple choice question to a 'grid' without confusing your spreadsheet. I add new items at the end all the time, though.

  3. Hi Ruth, let me please ask you a question:

    I'm a researcher trying to go digital AND online and I'm convinced that Google Forms is the way to go.

    Suppose I have 200 subjects and each has between 50 to 100 variables that I plan to follow up over time.

    How do I set this database up on Forms? Do you think I should have one form for each subject? What happens when he comes back for his new appointment in three months? Should I keep adding questions? Or maybe I could fit everyone in one huge form somehow and keep feeding it into one huge database - I seem to like it better this way, since this is how I have worked before with spreadsheets.

    Thanks for your comment.


    1. Hi, In all honesty, if you are doing research with that many subjects, you may just want to use Excel. That's what I would do if I'm doing research with that many variables. Thanks for the question, though.