The Wonderful Digital Recorder

It seems to me that once the kids return from winter break, there is a surge in evaluations.  My therapy bag always seems vaguely disheveled, filled with writing instruments, toys and games that don’t stack neatly not to mention articulation cards, a mirror and flashlight.  So, I keep a very streamlined, professional bag for evaluations that only contains that child’s folder, the evaluation itself, stickers, a couple of wind-up toys (just in case) and, always, always my digital recorder.

I do realize that the iPad can record but the kids are so enthralled the moment I bring it out, it isn’t real practical for just recording.  I use a small portable device instead and I love it.  Mine is the Olympus VN-8000PC and I bought it a few years ago at Radio Shack for about $50.  It records in “files” so if I have several evals back to back or over a few days, I can keep kids in separate “folders” and not be confused about which sample belongs with which child when I listen back later.  I can save the files to my computer and/or email them to parents as well.

From time to time I try to record my students in therapy.  It’s always amazing to me to listen to an old sample of a child that seems to be moving very slowly in therapy.  Often it’s simply that I’ve forgotten where we started!  It’s particularly helpful, and motivating to me, if I have a child working on something like /r/ and they still don’t quite have it, but I can see how much closer we’ve come to a correct production.  For a child with limited language skills you might feel like you aren’t getting much more vocabulary or mean length of utterance, but when you go back and realize how quickly you are acheiving 50-100 utterances compared to a couple months back, you’ll be invigorated!

Do you already use one or are you still wondering if it’s a worthwhile investment?  Here are my top 5 reasons to have one in your bag:

  1.  The kids are delighted to hear themselves when I pull out any recording device and even a shy child will generally warm up if they can press the buttons and hear themselves back.
  2. Parents love to receive recordings, hear their child and get a glimpse of therapy (I see children during their school day).  *Note: I don’t send more than a minute of recording time.
  3. I get a different perspective when I just listen and lose the context.  Some kids actually sound better, some sound worse than I realized!
  4. Many kids do better when they have auditory reinforcement.  Kids who don’t “hear” what they say typically, will really listen when I play their recording back.
  5. It adds a little excitement to our articulation games.  For example, if we are playing tic-tac-toe or bingo, I might have the child read the words aloud and record them.  We play them back and the child can mark off any box that was correctly produced on the recording.  They might win before I even get a turn (which is a huge hit)!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Carol

    Want something even cooler – try the Livescribe smart pens. Not only do they audio-record but they have a tiny camera in the pen tip so the recording is synced with what you are writing. You don’t have to fastforward/reverse to find a particular section that you want to listen to, you just tap your pen on the word that you wrote and it starts the playback there. I now record almost all of my evals and it makes report writing (often days/weeks later) a breeze when I can actually listen to each response. Language samples are so much easier since you don’t have to catch every single word the first time through, leaving you better able to attend and respond to the child!

    1. admin

      This sounds incredibly science fiction cool! I will definitely be checking this out. Thank you! Kim

  2. kristinm333

    Oooh, thanks for another functional and helpful post. I love your ideas. I put this on my wish list!

    1. admin

      I’ll cross my fingers for you. Maybe a very romantic Valentine’s Day gift 🙂 Kim

Comments are closed.


The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.