Sunday, July 13, 2014

Going Paperless during Extended School Year--- the Google way

 Hi Everyone!   I'm having fun in Extended School Year, and this year, have gone completely paperless.   I had posted this last year---It holds true this year, and is working very well for me.  It sure beats carrying around 22 manila files of therapy notes every day!

------------------------------------------Here's the post from last year---------------

I hope everyone's summer is going fabulously!  Mine sure is--I'm working with about 22 little people during Extended School Year!    We are doing lots of fun things---the children all have significant disabilities, so they are working on requesting toys, playing games, reading adapted books, using iPad apps, making simple crafts.  That part is great!

What isn't always so great is the paperwork.  Each child has goals and during the 5 week session, I'm to write two reports for each child I work with (although the purpose of ESY really isn't to make progress---it's to prevent regression, but I still need data and a report).  Each session needs a therapy note, and each day needs some detailed planning.  ESY for me is in three sites--two elementary schools across town from each other; along with a home visit twice a week.  Most of the teachers and students are new to me.  The documentation required is part of my job, and I do it; however, most of the time, I don't have access to the basic necessity of a printer.  I am not on the internet server for the schools, since they aren't my usual places to work.  In the past, I coped by printing reams of paperwork and forms at my home, or driving to yet another school (my own) hoping that I could find a working printer there to print out lesson plans and therapy note forms.

This year, as much as possible, I've gone almost paperless for ESY.  Here's how:

1. Therapy note documentation using Google forms---this required a little bit of work prior to seeing the children, but I have been using Google Forms and Spreadsheets to record both anecdotal and objective data for each session. I was given paper copies of the children's IEPs prior to ESY, so I spent a couple of evenings transferring goals from the IEPs into a Google form.
I have a tutorial HERE, and although the tutorial specifically mentions the iPad as the tool for filling out a Google form, I have simply been using my laptop for all data purposes.  Google forms helps me to keep in my mind the specific goals I need to be thinking about for each kid. 
Go HERE for the tutorial.

At the very end of ESY, I will print out each spreadsheet (from my regular school) and pass it on to the child's regular speech pathologist, with my signatures (I've learned to allow a spot for my signature for each session after printing). 

Some people have wondered if Google forms and spreadsheets are confidential.  I maintain confidentiality by not including last names or personal information of the kids such as birthdates, medicaid information, or other identifying information in the Google form. Google forms is simply an efficient, paperless way to record session notes. Printing them out at the very end of ESY and putting the hard copy in the child's speech folder with added information works, while keeping information secure.

2. Lesson plans

Sample plans on Google drive
I do all of my planning in Google drive.  I make a table with the schedule, and then insert what I want to do with each child centered around some type of theme.  They may not be super detailed, but this plan helps me.  I'm on the network at most of my places (WiFi--not for printing, though), so I just open my laptop and can see what I'm supposed to be doing.

3. Attendance

I take attendance every day with Google forms.

Go HERE for a little lesson on how to do that.  You can take attendance with either an iPad or a computer, as long as you have access to Google.

Going paperless has allowed me to not have to carry cartons of files around.  When writing therapy notes, I simply open my laptop and fill out a form.  My notes are actually much more detailed with data and anecdotal comments than if I hand-wrote all of these notes, plus the notes are legible (my handwriting leaves a bit to be desired).  Most of the time, I insert a detailed account of the activities and the student's response.  I have detailed accounts of behavioral issues, and on a positive note--some communication breakthroughs that have happened. 

Extended School Year can be a little intense; however,  going mostly paperless has helped me with the work load and has enabled me to write more detailed notes, and spend less time doing so.  I've loved it!   I do realize I need to print these notes at the end of ESY, but that's nothing compared to lugging files around and printing all the time!  Google drive has helped me immensely.  I hope it helps you!


  1. Thank you. I just set up my first Therapy Log form on Google Drive. I appreciate that you shared this and created such an easy to follow tutorial!
    Next I'll try to send it to my iPad!

  2. I’d agree with you about the paperwork being the not so great part. That goes with any other occupation, I think. Good thing going paperless is an option now. Files like the attendance, lesson plan and documentation, which are regularly produced would just pile up. But if they’re digitally created, storing them wouldn’t make a paper chaos. Ruby@Williams Data Management

  3. Thanks for the post! Have you taken a look at the Google sheets add-on, "Goobrics." It's a way to use rubrics to assess student work. It's designed to be used with student writing assignments, but I'm wondering if there is a way to use it with therapy notes and wanted to know if it was something you had looked into?

    1. I just tried to look at it with my school google account but didn't have access. It looks promising though, so maybe I'll find a work-around just to try it out. Thanks for the comment