With so many tasks, getting started is really the hardest part. It’d be amazing if we could just blink and already be in the thick of it rolling along. It’s hard to see how to get to that “rolling along” part. When it comes to data collection, my mantra keeps sneaking in – keep it simple. Keep it simple when you get started. You don’t need to go to taking zero data to taking data on 72 IEP goals overnight. Here are some simple ways you can get started:
Pick one goal for one student.
This idea may be obvious but we avoid this for someone reason. When you have all of these great plans about this thorough and all encompassing data collection system – it feels wrong to just start with one goal. But you have got to start somewhere! So pick one manageable goal and just get started. If the data sheet isn’t perfect – who cares? If you don’t have a good system for organizing data sheets yet – it’s okay. Rip off that band aide and just get started in a small way.
Pick the same goal (or similar goal) for several students.
I am also a big fan of this approach – pick several students that have the same goal (or very similar goals). Maybe you have 4 students working on greetings or categorizing or sight words. Start there. You will get a lot of practice taking data on the goal each day which will quickly tell you what is or isn’t working. Also – it will be easy to remember what you are taking data on since you are keeping the content consistent.
Set up fluency instruction.
One simple place to get started on data collection and really feel like you gotten a big chunk done is by setting up a fluency center. You can run this yourself or have a paraprofessional run it. Fluency looks at accuracy and speed. In a fluency center, you will time how long each student accomplish a skill like reading sight words, identifying colors, etc. For loads of ideas and setup tips – check out this post. This is a nice place to start because you can make simple data sheets that are the same for each student. All you need to know is the length of the timing (20 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 min, etc), how many correct, and how many incorrect. It’s SUPER simple. Make a bunch of different basic sets of flashcards and jump in. Don’t spend too much time worrying about which sets to give which student right away. The data will tell you! Students that have zero errors and are really fast at the set are ready to move on.