For SLPs, Organization

Digital Material Storage for SLPs

There’s few things I hate more than clutter! I find at work, when I have papers, games, files, and materials all over, I feel stressed and everything seems to take longer than it should. Instead, I store as many materials as possible digitally/on my computer. Below I’ll explain a little bit about different systems for storing materials digitally and some tips and tricks.

 

If you’re more visual, check out the video below. I take you on a tour and show some real life examples!

Different Organization Systems

To begin, I’ll share about 3 different “systems” or ways to organize your files. Depending on your style of therapy and the way you lesson plan, I’d recommend storing your files in one of the ways shown below.

By Topic – For example, your folder names might be “AAC”, “Fluency”, “Articulation”, “Social Skills”, etc..

By Theme – For example, your folder names might be “Fall”, “September”, “Vehicles”, “Ancient Egypt”, etc…

By Group – For example, your folder names might be “5th Grade”, “Low Level Language”, “Life Skills”, “Push In Resources”, “7th Hour Language Group”, etc…

PS: If you want to download a zipped file of the systems shown above or in the video, scroll to the bottom of this post. It contains all of the empty, organized folders to get you started!

“Assembled” Folder

You might have noticed that most of the organization systems shown above contain a folder named “Assembled”. I think this is critical for any digital organization system. Many products you buy and use don’t need to be constantly printed or referenced. For example, with my WH Question Interactive Binder, most people print and assembled it once and then might not need the file again. I keep all files like that in this folder so they don’t clutter my other folders.

Most of my folders are only for materials I use and/or reference frequently so this way I can save original files without cluttering up my frequently used folders.

How I Do It

I do not use themes and tend to use a minimal amount of materials that are seasonal. Because of this, I sort my materials by topic. When I purchased something from TpT or download something, I wait a few months to see how I use it, my thoughts, how my students respond, and what it pairs well with. Then, if I love it and think it will become a staple, frequently used item in my therapy, I add it to the proper folder. When I need something, I look through the appropriate folder or I search for it. I lesson plan once a month and following the printing system shared below.

Because I don’t hoard materials or store a million things I don’t use often, it is actually pretty easy to find what I need when I need it. I do buy a lot on TpT but know that a small percentage of that will actually be stored on my computer. ┬áSometimes I just buy something that I know will work wonders for one student or one group. Those products do not get saved on my computer!

When I purchase items, I try to purchase large products that I can use year after year and for a large part of the year. This helps minimize my files as well.

Tips and Tricks

Below are some of the tips and tricks I have for digital material storage.

  1. Think critically about what might work best for you, your therapy style, and the way you lesson plan. I don’t do themes and prefer to use year round activities and materials for most of my caseload so organizing By Topic makes the most sense for me.
  2. Keep it simple. Don’t set up a system and go searching through TpT and Pinterest to fill up the folders. Only put things in folders if you actually use them!
  3. If you use multiple computers, set up a folder system and then drag and drop it into Google Drive. Then, store all of your materials there! That way you can find what you need no matter if you’re using your home computer or work computer.
  4. If you start by sorting materials By Theme and find that most of your folders are filled with more than 50% year-round materials, switch systems! You can always put a seasonal folder in your topic organization system.
  5. To get started, clear your download folder on your computer. Download the resources you use most often. Drag and drop into their proper folders. Then, this school year, fill up your folders as you go!
  6. Rename your files! To make things easier to find by search, rename your files.
  7. If you use a Mac computer, take advantage of the “tagging” feature. If you right click on a file and click “Get Info”, you can add tags to a file that make it easier to search and find what you need.

Planning Using Folders

I will get into this more in later post, but wanted to touch briefly on how I lesson plan. If you’re unfamiliar with this blog, I currently work in a middle school but used a similar system when I worked in preschool and an elementary school.

At the beginning of the school year, I look through IEPs and try to get a general number of common, overlapping goal areas. For example, I might notice that I have a lot of students working on word-finding. I keep a sticky on my desktop of common goal areas and the number of students who could use materials in that area.

I lesson plan monthly and when I do, I reference that sticky in order to know how many copies to make of each type of product. For example, I might pull up my One Sheet Language Lessons and know that I could use them for my students who are working on summarizing, word-finding, and vocabulary. Then, I know how many copies to print! I print the copies and stick the worksheets in my students working folders or in an expanding file folder (I have a section for each student). You could also do this by group if you have a very large caseload!

Again, I’ll talk more about lesson planning and organization in a future post, but hopefully that helps you picture how I use the folder system to help me lesson plan!

I hope that helps give you some ideas on how to organize your materials. If you want the example setups that I showed above and in the video, click the link below to download them. You can delete or add folders as needed but hopefully it gives you a head start!

Download your Organization Systems file here!

{thanks for reading}

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Shannon

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5 Comment

  1. Reply
    Rhonda
    June 27, 2017 at 3:18 PM

    Many many thanks!! I read through your post, then I watched the video! Your great ideas may just be what gets me through the next few years until retirement!! I’m excited to get to work on organizing digitally, then planning for the first month of school! You’re an angel!

    1. Reply
      Shannon
      June 27, 2017 at 3:19 PM

      Rhonda, YOU are an angel! Thanks for your kind words – I really appreciate it and I’m so happy the tips are useful for you! <3

  2. Reply
    Annette
    June 27, 2017 at 5:16 PM

    I organize like that too, but I have a separate folder altogether for things I need to print and assemble. I like the “done” folder in each section though – that would make it much easier to find printables! You’ve inspired me to reorganize (again!) … Now to find the time!

    1. Reply
      Shannon
      June 27, 2017 at 6:20 PM

      Great ideas for having folders for things to “print” or things to “assemble”. I always just leave them on TpT but that could work really well for me! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Reply
    Mary
    July 10, 2017 at 4:16 AM

    Shannon you have some early nice ideas. I appreciate the effort you put into this site and for sharing.

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