tips for using the iPad to improve SLP paperwork, productivity, and time management
Ask any SLP out there and they'll probably say one of the top complaints about their job is the paperwork. Ugh, I'm right up there with them! Rubrics, progress reports, graphing data, screenings, evaluation reports, IEPs, meeting notes, parent notes home, lesson plans, not to mention tracking data and minutes for each individual student on bulging caseloads - it's outta control!
My paperwork 'methods' and organization definitely went through many different phases this year as I tried to figure out what would work best for me to complete things thoroughly, yet efficiently and in a timely manner. It wasn't until the very end of the school year that I truly felt comfortable and efficient. Here's a roundup of 5 tips and tricks that I've learned all in one spot for you:
1. Use Pages to upload and edit electronic copies of important student documents.
Pages is a wonderful app for creating and viewing word documents on the iPad. Luckily the agency I work for installed Pages on all iPads they give their employees. So what do I do with it?
Create a folder for each of your students, and upload all their important documents that need to be updated regularly. For me, that could mean their log of services calendar, progress notes, data sheets, and goal rubrics. I also keep a blank Pages document to make personal notes as I go.
Press and hold document you want to copy until all documents start shaking or tap the 'edit' button in the upper right-hand corner. A menu bar will pop up across the top of the screen. Tap the document you want to copy. A gold box will appear around the document you selected - press the symbol with two boxes and a + to make a copy of the document you selected.
To upload documents faster, upload a master first and then make as many copies of that document within Pages as you will need.
Another great thing - Pages has voice-to-text capabilities! Check the video below for a quick tutorial about using voice-to-text within Pages to write super quick progress notes.
You can save these documents as a pdf and email directly to parents if they are okay with being contacted via email.
Bonus Tips: Be sure your iPad is password protected to guard confidential information. Also, save all documents in the cloud (using Dropbox, etc. See tip #3) so you still have your information if your iPad ever gets lost or stolen.
Pages is available for $9.99 in the App Store.
2. Save on printing costs and use Notability to edit PDF documents.
I was just recently introduced to Notability and I am hooked! Notability is capable of editing PDFs, so save on printing costs, upload your probe sheets and therapy materials, and have students manipulate them on the iPad during their session!
My favorite thing about Notability is the capability to edit and manipulate PDF documents. In the example above I uploaded my Yes/No Question Monsters and scribble on the screen.
You can also add text boxes and type performance notes, data, or notes to parents (and then email for home activities!)
Notability is also a great app to use for record-keeping because the app allows you to store folders within folders. Meaning, you could have an individual folder holding documents and therapy materials for each student on your caseload. You could then organize those folders in bigger folders for each grade level or building. OR, have folders for articulation, expressive language, receptive language, fluency, etc. and store electronic copies of your favorite therapy materials in those folders!
I also customize colors to set groups apart visually. And you can password protect documents, which I would suggest doing for HIPPA compliance.
Bonus Tip: Notability wasn't very intuitive for me when I was trying to create categories and folders, so be sure to utilize the Welcome to Notability document and User Guide (by tapping the ? on the bottom right of the screen) to learn your way around.
Notability is available for $1.99 in the App Store.
3. Store electronic copies of your most important documents "in the cloud" for safe keeping and quick access.
The apps I recommend and use:
|DROPBOX - free in the App Store|
|EVERNOTE - free in the App Store|
|GOOGLE DRIVE - free in the App Store|
Bonus: Install these apps on your computer, smartphone, and iPad, and now you can access your documents from any of these devices no matter where you are.
4. Scanner apps are great for saving time - no more long trips down to the office or copy rooms!
Scanner apps have been a huge time saver for me this past year. I use them to scan signed consent forms, which I then email to myself as a pdf and upload to the web-based IEP system. I don't have to send forms to secretaries and wait for them to be uploaded (or worry I'll misplace them) - bing, bang, boom and it's done!
I've used CamScannerHD (free) and TinyScan ($4.99 - I grabbed it when it went free a few weeks ago), but actually prefer CamScannerHD.
5. Take advantage of apps that allow you to create student profiles and save results.
Apps that allow me to track student responses or that calculate percentages for me are such a time saver. I don't have to keep tallies or pull out the calculator later on when updating data. I especially love apps that allow me to create student profiles so all my students' results are saved in one place. I'm even more of a fan if I can then email results, which makes it great for updating parents and organizing data. Some of my favorite apps with data systems:
Articulation Station ($49.99 for all sounds, or can buy individual phonemes separately for smaller fee)
Super Duper Fun Deck apps (prices vary)
Apraxia Ville ($29.99)
I'm so looking forward to using my iPad a lot more next school year to help me with productivity. With these tips, hopefully I'll have more time for blogging and creating new materials!
So tell me: What's your #1 tip to increase productivity?