Taming the Data Monster

Monday, September 4, 2017
I guess I have a love/hate relationship with data. The former behavior therapist in me relishes the idea of quantifying a goal and measuring progress. 

But the reality of attempting to record responses in a group looks more like this:
Between trying to keep students engaged, facilitating language activities, and managing behaviors, data collection can definitely take a back seat. 

And has this ever happened to you? At the time you totally think you'll remember that awesome utterance your student just articulated, only to completely draw a blank by the end of the day? 
Well I've been there too. So I get how valuable having something discrete and tangible to look back on can be. Not to mention it makes progress report writing SO much easier. But I've struggled with a way to consistently take data in my speech groups. 

And guess what, I still don't have it all figured out. It's a constant challenge striking that balance between recording responses and staying present with my kiddos. Over the years I've tried keeping data in binders (too cumbersome), notebooks (too much flipping), even sticky notes (pretty much a disaster).  

Last year was the first time I picked a method that actually stuck. It's not revolutionary. In fact it's super simple. But it worked for me so I thought I'd share.

Here's what you'll need to create a "working file":

I hole-punch and attach my goal sheet to the right hand side of the folder with a prong fastener like this: 

In my district I can print a "Goal Summary" from our online IEP system with all my student's speech goals all on one page. I attach this to the left side: 

See I told you it was simple.
I have each working file organized by group and this year I'm even experimenting with color coding by grade so they'll be easier to spot and grab. 

Starting in a new district, I've been spending the week getting to know my students. These Get to Know You worksheets from Speech Room News are awesome for gathering info about what my students are into. I'm keeping these in the working files too, along with other activities we complete throughout the year. Parents and teachers are always interested in work samples, so it's nice to have these at my fingertips.

I love having all the information I need in one place! 

Will I be able to take data on every student's goal, every time? No. But I can make an effort to focus on one or two goals, for one or two students, each session. Having a game plan and a systematic way to record responses will help me stay on track this year and not get devoured by the data monster.  

Interested in using this data sheet too? It's free for email subscribers along with other monthly speech goodies. If you're not already a subscriber, join us here!

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