Blogging is to Talking, as APA Style is to ?


(photo credit)

I’ve found a danger to blogging a lot—someone might like what I’ve chatted about casually and then want me to turn it into an APA style manuscript.  Yep!  That’s happened!  My little ramblings about Google forms have been converted to a formal paper, and are about ready to be submitted electronically to the scholarly folds of ASHA for a peer review and heavy edit.

I’ve learned quite a bit from this:

1.  What is APA style?  The last time I wrote a research paper, I used a typewriter—it was at least an electric typewriter. (Hey, I’m not that old!)  Regardless, writing a paper and submitting it so it looks similar to what I see in my professional journals is a bit of a learning curve.  Fonts didn’t really exist in my world back then.   I’ve never written an ‘abstract’ or worried about including ‘table titles’ or website references.  I’ve spent more than a few hours over the holidays learning about fonts, double spacing, and citations.  (I feel I’m a more than competent speech pathologist—but my job descriptions since graduation in 1984 haven’t really included this.)

2.  What is a SIG (otherwise known as Special Interest Group) in the ASHA world?   I’ve never fronted the money but apparently each SIG has scholarly publications that the members (who pay $35 a year) can read and get CEUs.   I’m hopefully going to be published in one of the SIG publications, although I may not be able to read my own published article since I’m not yet  a member of the SIG.   Maybe I’m not as poor as I think I am.  Perhaps, I’ll turn over a new leaf now, and join a SIG—the one focusing on school-based issues now has me intrigued!   I’ll keep you posted about this.

3.  What is peer review?  I actually already knew about this, but it’s a bit intimidating to submit something I’ve written to be edited and reviewed by people I don’t know.  Right now, I’m using my 22-year-old daughter as my editor, but we think alike and readily critique each other all time about lots of things.  The part about complete strangers reviewing my paper (that I don’t know how to write) is daunting to even consider.  I’m sure that the reality is there will only be a couple of people on a computer that will edit my masterpiece, but my fantasy is that a large group will be earnestly talking about what I wrote. Ha Ha!

So, writing a formal paper is outside of my comfort zone.  Why did I agree to this?  Possibly, I was flattered that anyone even asked.  Possibly, I never say “no” to anything. I need a ready-made script or a social story in this area.

I hope all of you are having a good start to the year! What’s done is done—I said “yes” and this has been great, albeit painful practice, and I’m sure that I’ll have a bit more editing to do.  I’ll let you know how this challenge turns out.

This post is based on a post that originally appeared at Chapel Hill Snippets.

Ruth Morgan is a speech-language pathologist who works for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools at Ephesus Elementary School. She loves her job and enjoys writing about innovative ways to use the iPad in therapy, gluten-free cooking, and geocaching adventures. Visit her blog at:

Moving Into the 21st Century with CF Supervision and Record-Keeping

Photo by Ruth Morgan

Becoming a certified speech-language pathologist is a complicated and time-consuming process!  It should be–this is a very complex and broad field covering speech, language, and swallowing disorders from birth to the end of life; therefore, for recent speech graduates, there is a major step to go through before becoming a holder of the national certificate (Certificate of Clinical Competence or CCC-SLP).   All graduates must complete a Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) supervised by a certified speech-language pathologist.

I personally am such a holder of the CCC-SLP credentials.  Yeah!!!!  I got this piece of paper in 1987 and have loved it ever since.  This year, I have had the privilege of supervising a CF in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Ashley Robinson, who is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina.  We both work in the same school system–she is at a middle and high school, and is also the sole speech pathologist on the Assistive Technology Team.  I work in an nearby elementary school.  Not only do we have to keep up with the CFY paperwork, but there is additional North Carolina Board of Examiners (for state license) paperwork and observation requirements.  The Chapel Hill school system also requires new teacher observations and weekly check-ins by a mentor (me) .

Both Ashley and I are very busy with our actual speech jobs, so when given the task of arranging CF observations and consultations, I needed to set up a system that was efficient in terms of recording observation hours, and sharing notes.  I chose to keep track of this all using Google forms and spreadsheets. (Ashley has given me permission to write about all of this, and will be previewing this before publishing.)

I’ve created a Google Form for observations, which throws all of my observation data into a spreadsheet that I’ve shared with her online.   This transparent online record-keeping has been helpful for both of us!  Here is a step-by-step on how to do this.


CFY form


1.  Create a Google form  A tutorial for doing this is here.  I ended up with a form that looked like the one to the left.  Depending on your CF’s setting, you may want different questions; however, these are very easy to customize and make depending on your needs. If you have an iPad, you can send the form right to your iPad screen for easy access. Here is how. The form is then connected automatically to a Google spreadsheet that has the same name as the form.


CFY spreadsheet


2.  Share your Google spreadsheet with your Clinical Fellow  If you have Gmail, this should be easy for you.  By sharing, if you as the supervisor should unfortunately be unable to finish out your year, your CF will have documentation of observations and supervision thus far. The transition to a new supervisor will then be easier.

3.  Take notes of observations and share/email instantly  If you have an iPad, you can use the ‘Notes’ app that all iPads have and email notes straight from there to your CF. You can also take notes right into your Google form or set up a shared document just for your quick consultations or observations.   Laptops, desktops, or iPads all work for sharing.  All operate within the Google environment, and are wonderful to have for an instant open line of communication.

Unfortunately, ASHA, NC State Board of Examiners, and the school mentor teacher program have not yet jumped on the technology bandwagon for CF record-keeping (or at least I haven’t found the e-versions yet), so once my Google forms and spreadsheets are filled out, Ashley and I have still have needed to go to back to paper every few months and fill out the SLPCF Report and Rating Form. along with other paper forms for the other agencies (school and state board), but with our digital documentation and notes, this has not been a difficult task.  The paper documentation just seems like it belongs in the previous century—necessary to complete to get to the goal, but antiquated.

In summary, supervising a young, talented, and enthusiastic CF has been the highlight of my year!  Adding 21st century record-keeping has made the job less tedious and has kept the lines of communication open between us, even though we work in separate schools.  Hopefully in the near future, the large organizations of ASHA, and the state licensure board will follow suit, and allow for more online record-keeping.

To my fellow SLPs, if you have the opportunity to supervise, take it!   Watching sessions and consulting with recent graduates has rejuvenated my therapy sessions like nothing else has.

(This post originally appeared on Chapel Hill Snippets)


Ruth Morgan is a speech-language pathologist who works for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools at Ephesus Elementary School.  She loves her job and enjoys writing about innovative ways to use the iPad in therapy, gluten-free cooking, and geocaching adventures.  Visit her blog at Chapel Hill Snippets.

Google Forms and Spreadsheets—Fun Times with Data Collection!

Data and information collecting isn’t the most glamorous subject; however, with the influx of iPads into my school setting, and the increasing popularity of Google spreadsheets and forms, data collection has become a hot topic among the SLPs in our school system!

Several of us have embraced using Google forms and spreadsheets to make our data collecting lives border on fun.  Before Google, my folders for kids were full of sticky notes, therapy data forms, attendance forms, and other assorted loose items.    Now, progress report time is cleaner and more data oriented, because much of what I need has been systematically collected by Google forms into the spreadsheets. (There is a spreadsheet for every form.)

 This is a brief description of various ways I currently use the forms and spreadsheets in practice–click the thumbnails for full-sized versions of the examples below.  A tutorial link for creating your own Google forms is provided at the end.

1.  Recording data and notes from a therapy session with a student. 
There is still a spot for sticky notes, and recording tallies on paper to achieve percentages, but most often, the main part of my sessions with students is recorded on a Google Form.

portion of a form


For each of my students, I have created a Google form based on the student’s IEP goals and objectives.  At the end of the session, I can quickly fill out the form (either on the iPad, or on the computer) recording notes and data instantly.

summary of responses screenshot


The data entered on the form is compiled by Google Docs in to a spreadsheet, and a summary of responses can also be done through Google.

sample spreadsheet of student data

2.  Taking Daily Attendance

Portion of my daily attendance form

We all know in the school setting why it’s important to keep track of how many times a speech student was seen per reporting period, and why sessions were missed.  I used to keep attendance on paper, then progressed to an Excel spreadsheet.  Lately, I’ve been taking attendance on a daily Google form which sends all of the information into a spreadsheet stored in Google Docs.  It’s very manageable!

3.  Recording and Sharing Hearing Screening Results

This is an area that came to me one day when I was scratching out hearing screening information on a piece of paper.  A year ago, a group of us in the school began typing into a shared document all of our screening information. I’ve since developed a Google Form that I can use while I’m screening a child. I usually have an iPad at my side as I’m screening with this form on the screen. (I just tap the results in as I go).  The results are instantly sent to the shared Google Doc—no need for a pencil!

4.  CFY Supervision

This year, I’ve had the opportunity to supervise a wonderful new Clinical Fellow.  I know that she will sail through this year with flying colors, but to be fair to her, and to adequately do my job as her supervisor, I have to observe for an allotted amount of time, and monitor her activities as prescribed by both the North Carolina State Board of Examiners, and by ASHA.  I’ve created a Google Form for observations, which throws all of my observation data into a spreadsheet which I’ve shared with her online.   This transparent online record-keeping has been helpful for both of us!

5.  Weekly written feedback to a graduate intern

Part of the form


I am fortunate in that I work at an elementary school close to a major university that has a top-notch graduate program, so I usually supervise two students during the course of a year.    We have been asked to provide weekly written feedback which is extra work to my paperwork mountain—except that I created a Google form for providing such feedback.  My grad student and I filled it out together every Friday last year, and all of the data was collected in a shared spreadsheet.    The forms are nice in that they clearly defined expectations, and also allowed for some anecdotal feedback.  At the end was a section for the two of us to write a short term goal for the coming week.

Nothing will totally replace all note-taking, and there is a place for hand-written data still in my office.  These are just a few ways I have used technology to make my life run a bit more efficiently. I have loved the ‘sharing’ aspect of Google Docs—so for example, if several adults are working on the same goals for a student, they all can send their data using the same shared form to the shared spreadsheet.

For a tutorial on creating your own forms, go to this page.

I’m sure there are countless other ways to use these in a speech therapy setting and that we (as a profession) are only at the beginning of using technology more effectively in our practice. Comment if you have ideas for further uses for Google forms in speech therapy, or would like to see a specific Google form topic addressed.

(This post originally appeared on Chapel Hill Snippets)


Ruth Morgan is a speech-language pathologist who works for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools at Ephesus Elementary School.  She loves her job and enjoys writing about innovative ways to use the iPad in therapy, gluten-free cooking, and geocaching adventures.  Visit her blog at