Data Made Easy! 5 Easy Tips and a Big Freebie List!

Earlier this month, I joined with The Frenzied SLPs to give some tips on baseline monitoring and taking data. Did you miss it? Click here and follow the links to get some more great tips.

Data tips, a free resource and links to other free data sheets! Looks Like Language
Well, now that I am back to work and in the swing of assessing my students’ skills, I though that I’d bring home my binder on data collection and let you know some of the links to resources that I found to be helpful.  If you read my last post, you know that taking data is NOT my favorite! I like the interaction in therapy and figuring out the best  strategies, prompts and visuals to support communication growth much better, so I like to keep the data part easy.

For me, that means thinking about the functional skills I’d like to see my students doing by the end of the year, before I even begin therapy.  Then, I see how well they do in that activity, whether it is a worksheet, a language sample, or an authentic assessment in the classroom and take both qualitative and quantitative data to start the year.

After I get a sense of their skills, I start to take my regular session data. I have found that it is very easy to get involved with helping students and not really notice subtle cues that I have provided so frequently, I don’t even notice that I’m doing it anymore! So, midyear I like to give that same pretest or do the same activity, paying careful attention to letting my students do it independently. This lets me see if they are actually learning to use the target skills without my intervention but still giving me time to make changes, if needed, before the end of the year.

Once I’ve assessed whether changes are needed, it is back to the regular data again.  Over the course of my many years of therapy, I’ve tried a lot of different ways to collect data. The simplest methods for me are when the data collection is built into the activity.

Data Made Easy- 5 Tips

1. Get out sets of picture cards in multiples of 5. Place the correct response cards in one pile and the incorrect responses in another. Variations: stack them in different directions, place the error cards face down and the correct ones face up, set the error cards in a different location.

2. Play a game or do an activity with pieces, like tossing balls into a hoop, throwing packing peanuts into a seasonal container, or tossing pompoms into an egg carton. Assign each student a different color and only let them take a turn if their answer is correct. At the end of 10 responses, you get a quick count as you have them clean up.

3. Use numbered question lists placed in a page protector. Mark with a crayon or erasable marker right on the sheet. For students who are sensitive about mistakes, make a small dot for incorrect responses right next to the question.

4. Start with a set of 10 interesting things in a pile in front of you. If the student answers correctly, one piece goes in a pile next to him. If the answer is wrong, you get to keep it. Many students will find this fun with tokens, as they are challenged to get them all away from you. Other students need the ‘interesting’ things to be something they can interact with after, such as different colors of crayons for a picture, the pieces to play a game as described in #2, or small toys they can play with for a minute. If your students are at this level, you might also need a container for their toys to wait in, while yours just disappear from view.

5. Of course, there are the standard coloring or daubing worksheet activities that let you see the total easily, too. My students like doing these with dry erase markers with the sheets placed in page protectors, which also cuts back on printing and photocopying.

Have you noticed that different activities and group sizes lend themselves better to different types of data sheets? I think so! To help you out, I asked my blogging friends on TpT to share the links to their FREE data sheets. Please leave kind feedback (that reads 4.0, we all want A’s!) if you decide to download as a thank you for their time and effort. This is an impressive variety of free data collection sheets, so I’m sure you will find something to suit your needs!

Links to FREE Data Sheets!

A FREE speech/language therapy data collection sheet from Looks-Like-Language!
This data sheet is one I found useful for working with groups. Sometimes it seems that I never have enough hands, and being able to collect all the data on one sheet can be very useful. You can set it up so that your groups are listed in the order they are scheduled, and just flip the page after the third group. You can also use one sheet for each group, listing a different goal in each section. The PDF of this page can be downloaded here.

Happy data collection!
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