Trello is a web-based organization tool that is essentially digital to do lists. But also, it is so much more than that! Trello has so many tools that can help you automate your to do list and organize the chaos in your brain.

Trello Boards

Image of my personal Trello Boards

Think of them as actual boards to which you would pin your real life to do lists. You can have as many boards as you would like. You can also have one board with many different lists. I have three boards, work, home, and Seldom Speechless. Each of my boards has five to ten lists. Having different boards is helpful when you are trying to time block. In my planner I block out time for work, home, or Seldom Speechless and then I complete tasks on the board I assigned to that time slot.

Trello Lists

Image of work lists on my personal Trello board

Once you have created a board, or multiple, you can add lists to the board. The lists help you organize your tasks by category, which is helpful for batch working, or targeting tasks that go together.

Work List Examples:

  • Priorities
  • Planning
  • Evaluations
  • Referrals & Screenings
  • IEPs
  • Evergreen Checklists
  • Miscellaneous

Trello Cards

The task items added to each list are called cards.

Image of card features available on Trello

Card features:

  • Assign another person to complete the task (yay delegation!)
  • Add checklists to breakdown the tasks (you can save checklists to quickly add them for similar tasks!)
  • Assign a due date
  • Add attachments
  • Add a cover photo
  • Activate power-ups (I like the card repeater power up, so you can set recurring tasks to be automatically added to your lists, like medicaid billing, progress reports, etc.)
  • Add comments or notes for later

Trello Checklists

You can save checklists to quickly add them to new task cards in the future. I save all of my recurring checklists to a list at the end of my board (pictured below).

Image of examples of recurring checklists that can be saved to use on Trello

Recurring Checklist Examples:

  • Evaluations
  • Screenings
  • IEPS
  • Current Caseload
  • Beginning of the Year
  • End of the Year

When you make a new task card, you can click checklist and select the one you need to quickly assign sub-tasks to the card.

In list view, you can quickly see how much progress you have made on each of your tasks. You can see in the image to the left that I have completed 0 of 17 items for A. Smith’s Evaluation, but I have completed 4 of 8 items for the Beginning of the School Year Prep.

Trello Power-ups

There are many different power-ups. You can add one power-up to each of your boards on the free version of Trello. In my opinion, the best power-up is the card repeater. It automatically duplicates tasks cards depending the frequency you set (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly options).

I also like to use the calendar power-up, which lets you visualize all of your task cards displayed on a calendar by due date.

Image of Calendar Power-up on Trello

Trello Rules

Rules are the reason that I upgraded to the paid version of Trello. With the Business Class membership you can add unlimited automation commands, which frees up so much space in my brain (#wortheverypenny).

The free version only allows you to have one rule, but you can have unlimited boards, cards, checklists, and one power-up (like the card repeater OR the calendar view).

You can add automation commands or rules under the “Butler.” The Butler automatically proposed rules based on patterns that you exhibit, which is helpful when you are getting started with Trello. Under the Butler, you can add general rules or rules by card, board, calendar, or due date. I will show you examples of rules that I have set for my Trello.

Image of rule builder on Trello

Trello uses a rule builder that requires you to set a trigger and outline the actions you want to occur whenever the trigger occurs.

Examples of Rules You Can Set:
  • Automatically create a progress report task card one month prior to the end of term with caseload checklist and a due date of the end of term.
  • Automatically add evaluation checklist to any card added to the evaluation list and move the card to priority task list 30 days before it is due.
  • Automatically add referral checklist to any card added to the referral task list and set a due date in 21 days.

I have included a list of specific rules with the exact wording I use on my Trello board in the Freebie Library, if you are looking to get started! Or send me an email at! Trello helps me stay organized and I would love for it to help you too!

Trello Aesthetics

Trello is not beautiful. I can forgive its lack of aesthetics for its awesome functionality. Did I mention they have a mobile app, so you can use it on the go?! However, with the paid version you can change the background image of your boards, which makes it a little prettier. There is also a work around for adding images to the top cover card of each list (available in free version).

Check out the Trello pricing guide here. The free version really does have a lot of great features! I used it and enjoyed the free membership for many years before upgrading.

Thanks for reading!

Digital Data Collection using Google Forms

Types of Data Collection

In graduate school, I remember learning about discrete data collection. I remember being told to take data on every trial, every single session. I was shown once, maybe twice how to take discrete data on a blank piece of paper. It was a one-size-fits-all approach to data collection.

There are actually many different ways to collect valuable data to inform your clinical decisions!

Discrete Data Collection

Discrete data collection is the most familiar data collection method. It involves writing down pluses and minuses for each trial and obtaining a percent accuracy by dividing the total pluses by the total trials. This method of data collection is great for objective, straight forward tasks like articulation, following directions, grammar, wh-question comprehension, etc. Discrete data collection can be challenging for more subjective tasks like story retell, writing, describing, etc.

In graduate school, I was taught to collect discrete data for every single trial, every single time. The problem with that is if you are constantly testing the student, it is easy to forget that you need to take time to teach the skill. That is why many SLPs opt to take discrete data only on designated data days or just during the first five-minutes of the session. Also, discrete data by itself does not capture scaffolding and cueing levels.

I do not take data every session! I make sure I take plenty of time to teach the skills and document subjective, observation data about scaffolding and cueing during the instructional phases. Once a skill has been taught and I have moved on to guided practice, maintenance, and generalization I take data more often.

Observational Data Collection

Subjective data collection is awesome, because it provides room to document changes in scaffolding and cueing! For many skills, the fine development in a student’s level of independence is not reflected in percent accuracy. I use rubrics and notes about level and type of cues to document those fine changes. I use several different rubrics, which I have embedded into my master data form.

My Data System

During my Clinical Fellowship, I quickly realized that the one-size-fits-all approach from graduate school was not working for me! First, I am terrible at organizing and managing paper! Second, I had a busy, full-time caseload that did not provide time to log, organize, and analyze the data I was collecting. I had tally marks on random scraps of paper, was always several weeks behind transferring the data to my data logs, and was guessing at whether my students were making progress at the end of each progress reporting period.

Photo of Getting Started with Google Forms for Digital Data Collection Guide

It was right around that time, that I met a teacher who was using Google Forms to administer self-grading mid-term and end-of-term quizzes for progress monitoring. I immediately thought, I can adapt Google Forms to manage my data collection!

Initially, I made individual Google Forms for each of my students with each “question” on the form focusing on the individual student’s IEP objectives. It was too time consuming!! Since that first year, I have streamlined my Google Form Data Collection System!

Now, I have one Master Template that features all of the building blocks to meet my data collection needs for ANY student. At the beginning of each IEP period or whenever I receive a new student, I simply make a copy of the template and copy and paste the student’s specific IEP objectives from my school’s IEP program on to the form. That is it, I am ready to take data!

Screenshot of discrete data and in-session notes available in freebie library.

I still take discrete data on a simple paper form (pictured left) that is available in my freebie library. Then, either before, during, or after the session, I pull up each of my student’s Google Data Forms and fill in the appropriate information for that session.

I LOVE Google Forms, because I never have to transfer information or file papers away. PLUS, Google Forms automatically exports data to Google Sheets, making data analysis during progress report season super simple!

I have created a free step-by-step guide to help you get started with Google Forms for data collection. It includes video demonstrations and a copy of my master data form, so you can get started right away! Check out the video below to see what is included!

Sign up below to have the Getting Started with Google Forms for Data Collection Guide sent to your inbox!

Do you have questions about using Google Forms for data collection? Post a question in the comments below, send me a message on instagram, or email me at! I would love to help you get started with digital data collection, because it was a game changer for me!

Thanks for reading!

Structure Your Speech Therapy Sessions Using Speech Bins

If you asked me, what is one thing you learned in your graduate clinical placements that you still use in your practice today? My answer would be speech bins. Speech bins are an adapted work system consisting of three numbered plastic bins (I use a three drawer Sterilite container). At the beginning of each session, you place an activity or set of activities in each bin. During the session, the student(s) work through the bins until all of the activities inside have been completed. Speech bins define the amount of work expected and establish a definite ending to when the session is over.

The idea of speech bins comes from the Structured TEACCHing approach.

What is TEACCH?

The TEACCH Autism Program is based out of the University of North Carolina. It is a university-based system of community centers that offer programs providing clinical services and trainings, and conducting research.

TEACCH stands for:

  • Teaching – Sharing knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorder and increasing the skill level of professionals and practitioners through innovative education, teaching, and demonstration models.
  • Expanding – Commitment to expanding our own knowledge and that of others to ensure that we offer the highest quality, evidence-based services to Autistic individuals and their families across the lifespan.
  • Appreciating – Appreciating the strengths and uniqueness of Autistic culture.
  • Collaborating and Cooperating with colleagues, other professionals, Autistic people, and their families.
  • Holistic – Adopting a holistic approach, looking at the person, their family, and their communities throughout the lifespan.

TEACCH is known for utilizing a Structured TEACCHing approach, which is designed to respond to the needs of Autistic people using the best available, evidence-based methods known so far, for educating and teaching autonomy. It is not a curriculum or program, but rather a framework to support access to academic instruction and therapeutic intervention.  The framework includes physical organization, individualized schedules, work systems, and visual structure of materials in tasks and activities.

Primarily, Structured TEACCHing aims to carefully construct the student’s environment to support self-regulation and the highest level of independence.

Work Systems

One component of the Structured TEACCHing Framework is work systems. Work systems are bins, each containing an activity to be completed. Work systems, as they are described in the Structured TEACCHing approach, are intended to be completed independently. Therefore, only already mastered activities with clear start and endpoints should be placed in each bin. Work systems teach independence, NOT skills. Work systems help the student answer the following questions:

  1. What work needs to be done?
  2. How much work needs to be done?
  3. How do I know when I’m finished?
  4. What do I do next?

Speech Bins

Okay, so speech bins are basically just an adapted work system. TEACCH emphasizes that teaching organizational and environmental management skills supports not only independence but also self-regulation. Using consistent routines helps our students with regulation challenges by providing a sense of predictability and control. I use speech bins to structure my sessions in a way that is visual and consistent. It is important for consistency and predictability purposes that you always complete all three bins, even if you only spend one-minute or complete one trial on one of the activities.

Image of speech bins (three-drawer black Sterilite container on wheels) to the right of the bookshelf.

For my preschool students and early communicators, I have labeled each bin with a picture of a numbered shape. During the session, I give the student(s) the appropriate image, and they match it to the coordinating image on the proper bin. Using this system provides autonomy within the session and a quick movement break. I use the phrase “1-2-3-Play” to support the students in understanding our schedule. You can find a free download of the basic speech bin labels, speech bin schedule reminder visual, and editable digital speech bins template I use in the Freebie Library.

Image of speech bin routine visual for preschoolers and early communicators. Shows three speech bin labels followed by an image representing play.

Adapting to COVID

In the spring, when I first switched to teletherapy, I continued to use my speech bins to structure my sessions. I relocated my plastic bins to my new bedroom office. I would show the label, place it on the bin, and then pull out the activity. As I transitioned to using more digital activities I created a simple editable, digital speech bin template on Google Slides. I have included access to a copy of the editable, digital speech bins template in the freebie library. I paste pictures or screenshots of the activities I have planned into the boxes on the template and check each activity off as we complete it. Because the speech bins are hosted on Google Slides, you can duplicate the “schedule” as many times as you need and make small adjustments to plan ahead for all of your students.

Thanks for reading!

Evidence-based Decor Decisions

Are highly decorated classrooms distracting?

Several researchers (Fisher et al. 2014 & Rodrigues & Pandeirada 2018) have found that children are more easily distracted in highly-decorated environments resulting in poorer learning opportunities and achievement. If you spent a few minutes with a young child in a toy store, this should make perfect sense to you. 

Imuta and Scarf (2014) published a response to the Fisher et al. study citing several other research articles analyzing the development of visual attention in children and the impact of the classroom environment on learning potential.

Imuta and Scarf first remind the reader that many psychological studies involving children rely on the developmental cognitive strategy of attending to and preferring novel stimuli. Therefore, their first rebuttal to research indicating highly-decorated classrooms as a distraction to learning is the habituation effect. Basically, when children first enter your learning space, they may be overloaded by colorful displays, but overtime, they will adjust, and the decorations will have a transient impact on their attention.

The authors further cite additional research that has found carefully curated classroom decorations, such as visuals made by students and educational references, can serve to support our students. They recommend keeping classroom decorations the same and in the same spot to take advantage of habituation and support student access to the visuals.

Image of speech therapy bulletin board featuring A Perfect Blend Teaching Interactive Language Bulletin Board
My speech therapy room’s bulletin board featuring Perfect Blend Teaching’s Interactive Language Bulletin Board set available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

What environmental factors impact student attention and learning?

Barrett et al. (2013) took a holistic approach looking at several environmental factors and their impact on student learning. Seven factors were identified to best predict student progress: light, temperature, air quality, ownership, flexibility, complexity, and color.

As SLPs, we are often lucky to have a dedicated space, nevermind one with optimal lighting, temperature, and air quality. Those factors are generally outside of our control. Though if you are trying to make the case to get out of your broom closet, there is research available to support your argument.

What we do have control over is the individualization and stimulation level of our therapy spaces. Here are a few summary points from the findings of this article:

  • Visual displays created by the children established a sense of ownership, which was significantly correlated with optimal learning outcomes.
  • The flexibility and comfortability of classroom furniture were correlated with optimal learning outcomes.
  • Younger students exhibited better learning engagement with varied, defined learning zones, while older students performed better with consistent, dedicated learning zones.
  • Students performed best in rooms with light or white walls with a feature wall or well organized colorful displays.
  • Students of all ages performed best in places with an intermediate level of visual complexity.
Image of my speech therapy classroom

Special Considerations

“The visual appearance of the classroom can be conceptualized as a nonverbal statement about the teacher who has structured this learning environment.”

Weinstein & Woofolk (1981)

Cheryan et al. (2014) investigated the impact of classroom decor on student achievement. Here are the most important findings:

  • Multiple research studies indicated that decor decisions favoring the majority (examples: Christian religious displays, images of only white students, pictures of diverse students filling only stereotypical roles) directly impacted the educational performance of female students, Black, Indigenous, and students of color, and students of minority religious groups.
  • The research indicated that small changes to classroom decor improved learning outcomes for all students and helped reduce racial and gender achievement gaps.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, our students notice the objects, pictures, and decor decisions in our classrooms.  Therefore, we should be careful not to feature objects that acknowledge only high-status or majority groups or make students from historically underrepresented groups feel excluded. The authors urge you to keep in mind that the objects and decor added to your space to reflect students belonging to minority groups and cultures should be carefully curated in an effort not to constrain students to limited, stereotypical roles.

“[Our decor choices] signal to students whether they will be valued and encouraged within the classroom.”

Cheryan et al. (2014)

Considerations for Teaching During the COVID-Pandemic

The authors of Designing Classrooms to Maximize Student Achievement (Cheryan et al. 2014) reported that the same evidence-based practices, summarized above, for in-person classrooms apply to virtual classrooms. So, if you will be using a Bitmoji classroom this fall consider the level of visual stimuli, incorporating student ideas, representation of all students, and defining your learning zones.


Thanks for reading!


Barrett, P., Zhang, Y., Moffat, J., & Kobbacy, K. (2013). A holistic, multi-level analysis identifying the impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning. Building and environment59, 678-689.

Cheryan, S., Ziegler, S. A., Plaut, V. C., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2014). Designing classrooms to maximize student achievement. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences1(1), 4-12.

Fisher, A. V., Godwin, K. E., & Seltman, H. (2014). Visual environment, attention allocation, and learning in young children: When too much of a good thing may be bad. Psychological science25(7), 1362-1370.

Imuta, K., & Scarf, D. (2014). When too much of a novel thing may be what’s “bad”: commentary on Fisher, Godwin, and Seltman (2014). Frontiers in psychology5, 1444.

Rodrigues, P. F., & Pandeirada, J. N. (2018). When visual stimulation of the surrounding environment affects children’s cognitive performance. Journal of experimental child psychology176, 140-149.