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OTSH 76: Diving into the Schoodles: School Fine Motor Assessment with the Authors



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Welcome to the show notes for Episode 76 of the OT School House Podcast.


Have you ever heard of the Schoodles School Fine Motor Assessment tool? I recently became aware of it and have now added it to my repertoire of evaluation tools that I can use.


In Episode 76 of the OT School House, I am welcoming to the podcast the Authors of the Schoodles Assessment to further understand for myself why this tool is so valuable and how we as OTs can use it to support our practice as School-Based OTs.


Please help me to welcome co-authors of the 4th edition of the Schoodles Assessment, Marie Frank, OTR/L & Monica Fortunato, OTR/L


About Marie & Monica


Marie Frank OTR/L Marie received her Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota in 1983. She went on to work in a variety of jobs and kept gravitating toward working with people with disabilities. She went back to school in 1994 and received a certification of the second major in occupational therapy from the College of St. Catherine. She has enjoyed working in public school systems ages birth to 21, clinical pediatric settings, and a regional pediatric treatment center. Marie has taught as an adjunct staff member at the College of St. Scholastica and provided clinical supervision to students. She has mentored occupational therapists in school settings. She is a presenter for Sensational Brain. She currently works with very young children and their amazing parents in Maplewood Minnesota. She lives in Stillwater Minnesota with her husband Ged


Monica Fortunato OTR/L Monica received her degree in occupational therapy from the College of St Catherine in 1983. She has worked in a variety of settings including psychiatric inpatient and community outreach. She currently provides occupational therapy for children in the charter schools of Los Angeles. Monica is Level 1 certified by Handwriting Without Tears and has created handwriting programs that have been featured in the Los Angeles Times and on BBC radio and is a presenter for Sensational Brain. She has mentored occupational therapists in school settings and is a USC certified Sensory Integration therapist. Monica lives in Hermosa Beach California with her son Carter and husband Robert.


Links to Show References:

Puzzle task - Part of the Schoodles School Fine Motor Assessment Tool












Episode Transcript

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Amazing Narrator

Hello and welcome to the OT School House podcast, your source for school-based occupational therapy tips, interviews, and professional development. Now, to get the conversation started here is your host, Jayson Davies, class is officially in session.


Jayson Davies

Hey there and welcome to the OT School House podcast. My name is Jayson Davies, and I am here with you today for the next hour or so because I know you're not gonna want to miss a moment of this one. This is an amazing episode that we have here I am interviewing Monica and Marie from the Schoodles Assessment. Some of you may have heard of the Schoodles Assessment. For others, this may be the first time you are hearing the silly word that is school and doodles put together to create an occupational therapy assessment called the Schoodles. You're not going to want to miss a second of this one because we are discussing the classroom skills as well as the support skills that the Schoodles Assessment tool addresses for occupational therapists. I am pretty new to the Schoodles myself. I've only used it a handful of times, but I'm looking forward to using it more in the future. And I know you will, too after hearing this interview. Not only are we going to get a quick introduction, actually a pretty extensive introduction into the Schoodles today. We're also going to quickly review the difference between a standardized and non-standardized assessment tool for anyone who's been out of school, I don't know maybe more than five years and just needs a little refresher on this. It actually really helped me so I'm happy that Marie shared that with me. So, let's go ahead and jump into our interview with Marie Frank and Monica Fortunato. They are both occupational therapists and sisters. Enjoy the interview. Hello, Marie. Welcome to the OT School House podcast. How are you doing today?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

I'm great, Jayson. How are you?


Jayson Davies

I'm doing pretty darn well. This is a Sunday afternoon. I'm enjoying myself and we just had a dog walk. So, the dogs happy. I'm happy. The wife is happy. Everyone's happy. We're so we're all good. How about you, Monica?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

I'm doing great, Jayson. It's great to be here with you. And just want to say thank you for everything that you do for school-based OTs. You are just pumping out the info and it's great to be a part of that.


Jayson Davies

Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Yeah, you know, we're on about Episode 75 ish now. And it's just amazing. We've been able to have some great conversations with OTs and I love it. So, let's go ahead and jump into it a little bit. Today we are talking about the tool that you all have developed, written, authored, which is on the fourth edition now. The Schoodle's fine motor assessment tool. And we're gonna get into all that today. But first, I'd love to hear about how you kind of got to where you are as an occupational therapist today. So, Marie, would you like to kind of share a little bit about your OT background?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Sure. I have been an occupational therapist for over 20 years. And I started this with another occupational therapist. I felt disorganized, I can be very disorganized myself. And going into assessments, I would be in the assessment trying to come up with scissors or, or a shape to cut or, or something like that, and it didn't feel good to me. And the other thing that didn't feel kind of good to me as I would use the BOT and which is a great tool. But I wasn't feeling like I was getting enough information to speak intelligently about the student or get enough information to identify the need that the student had. So, we got together Amy Wang was the other therapist, she's awesome. And we started that about 17 years ago, I thought initially it was going to take about three months to put together and it took a lot longer than that because the more I dug in, the more I found I needed to dig in. And so, it took a while longer than that. And then about six years ago, Amy dropped off and Monica joined and Monica is my sister. So, this works out perfectly for us to have a business together. And Monica brought a whole new skill set to the operation, let's say and it's growing wonderfully because of Monica's expertise and ideas. So...


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Thank you, Sis.


Jayson Davies

I love it all I have to jump in real quick and then I'll let you go, Monica. I just love it because my family is also an OT family, my older sister is an OT. And that's how I came to find out about occupational therapy. My sister is about six years older than me. And so, by the time I was kind of heading into college, I was volunteering with her at a pediatric clinic and really learning about OT and then got to college. And that was the end of it, OTs. Yeah, so Monica, what about you? What has your OT career kind of look like?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Well, I, like Maria have been an OT for a long time. I was an OT before she was and convinced her were great professional occupational therapy was OT you would love it. You'd be so good. And then, when I started a family and then took a few years off, and when I wanted to go back to work, Marie, at that point was a school-based OT and said, "You should be a school-based OT, you'll love it, you'd be so good." So, I went into school-based OT and that's when I started using Schoodles, you know, just taking it with me. And my first few months as a school-based OT, Marie gave me a lot of confidence. And you know, every day on my drive home, I would call her and ask questions. And as I started to use Schoodles, I was thinking of ways to make it better. Like, "oh, we could add this or what if we explored this area," and Marie loves research so much that she was doing the research. And then I was like, the boots on the ground, trying things. And that's how we came up with the fourth edition, which is the actual manual, we doubled in size added a lot more Student Workbook pages. And I know we'll talk a little bit more about everything that's in Schoodles in just a minute. But that we just interchange. I mean, my even though we're not twins, our mother says we're like twins that we read each other's mind. I don't know if that's true or not. But we work well together and feel like we have come up with something great.


Jayson Davies

That's funny, I like what you said about how you just kind of were using it. And then you're like, "Hey, Marie, let's... what if we did this" because I think every OT has been doing an assessment and be like, "man, if I can make one change, this is what I'd want to do." If only I could contact the author and be like, "Hey, can we do it this way, instead?" How nice it was that you just so happened to know the author of this?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Yes, yes, that's true.


Jayson Davies

Awesome. And now you are a part of it, which is amazing. So, before we jump too far into this, how and why? Well, we're going to jump into all the how and why. But before we get too far, deep into it, why don't you just briefly give an overview of what the Schoodles is?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Okay, it's a, Schoodles is a performance slash, observation-based, systematic assessment that uses age levels are over 20 skills to determine whether a student is delayed for his age. But it also looks qualitatively at how a student moves through a set of activities. So, you're with each activity, you're looking at a whole set and range of components to that activity, which I'm sure every OT does, anyway. But we kind of organized it for ourselves and others, and it's broken down into two separate components. It's broken down into classroom skills, which are the skills that teachers talk about. And parents talk about handwriting coloring, cutting those skills, and then supporting skills. So, the underlying skills that are needed to produce skilled fine motor work, so things like core strength and strong arm and hand muscles, and balance and those kinds of things that that's what I was digging into. When I was building it, I thought, "Oh, my gosh, there's so much that goes into the handwriting. It's crazy."


Jayson Davies

Right?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

And then the ops observations kind of build on each other, which is with each task that you look at you kind of confirm or reject each theory that you might have in your head about why something might be happening with that student. And then, yeah, okay, go ahead.


Jayson Davies

Go ahead. I'm sure we will get into everything. We have a lot of questions. I'm so happy for everyone that's listening. This is going to be great. Before we get too far in though, as I want to ask why schools obviously, this is a school assessment. So, I understand the school part of it, but who came up with Schoodles?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Oh, hey, Amy and I love wimzie and fun. And we didn't want some stodgy name. So, we were messing around with words. And we took Schoodles, school, and doodles and put those two words together. And when Monica joined me, I asked her if she wanted to change it. And she said, No, she liked it. So that's kind of stuck in and it's mispronounced constantly, but I guess that's okay.


Jayson Davies

That's funny. I don't even know if you notice, but I accidentally when we put our notes together, I had accidentally typed it as a school with the owl and then d-e-l-e-s. And I had to change it. But even me, it's so it's got school in it. And so, I put the whole school word in there. I've since changed it is and correct me if I'm wrong, Marie. SCHOODLES. Correct?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

That's exactly it.


Jayson Davies

Yeah. All right. Great. That'll help you find their website when you're going to look for this later.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

We're not Schnoodles is when... Sometimes, which are adorable little dogs, but it's not us.


Jayson Davies

That's funny. That's funny. All right. So, Marie, I'm gonna I think this is going to be for you as well because you were kind of you and Amy originally developed this. You said you developed this, I think it was around 17 years ago, I think you said it was Yeah, yeah. Wow. And just for people who are in my age realm, we grew up with so much internet. And like now we all have Canva, we could easily make a quick little task to print out and cut. But 17 years ago, you said that you thought it was gonna take you three months, and ended up taking you a lot longer. So, if you could even just kind of talk a little bit about that development of what you guys went through?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Yeah, you bring up a really good point that I hadn't thought about for a long time. But you're right, we didn't have all these fancy tools. But Amy was a graphic artist and a communication specialist before she was an occupational therapist, and her husband was a marketing person. And so, they had those skills. And we use very expensive computer programs put together a lot of this, the graphics and the things like the puzzles, which are something you can easily find on the internet now. So, what we did, I did a lot of research at one of the colleges that I lived near, and then some the on the internet as well. So that's how we kind of pulled it together that way. And I guess that's where we came up with the new additions to we thought we kept finding more information that we needed to add, make it current. So...


Jayson Davies

Yeah, and that's great because I don't think anything is ever finished. And as we all know, as occupational therapists, kids’ skills are changing. probably at least every decade, the averages have to be the norms have to be changing a little bit. I mean, kids are going to school earlier and earlier, things are changing technology versus no technology, how much all that's going on. And so, it's great that you've been able to keep updating it and the Monica has helped you with this now, the fourth edition. So, let's go ahead and jump into a little bit of the specifics. And what were the key areas you wanted to focus on when it came to creating this assessment?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

You know, we were looking at handwriting, because that's where you get all your referrals, right?


Jayson Davies

Basically.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Always handwriting. So of course, that's what we wanted to pick apart handwriting, and those classroom skills, because that's not what was in the standardized test that we were using. So, I was constantly trying to marry what the bot was telling me what the BMI was telling me or what the P body was telling me with what I was trying to sort out in the classroom. So, that's kind of where we, what led us is what are we seeing in the classroom? And what do we need to be looking at with kids in school, because some of those assessments were, or clinic-based work? They were developed for clinic-based work so that's kind of where we went with it. And then and then it seems like a natural thing to do to break it into those two parts of classroom skills that are very, very identifiable things to teachers and parents and then everything that's OT related, or what we look at it what gives us efficacy, I guess when we're speaking about it with one another, and then in an IEP, and, and then we can explain those things to parents and teachers and administrators. Right.


Jayson Davies

Always advocating for ourselves a little bit. Whenever we can.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Half our job as salespeople, right?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Oh, wait, wait, where are you? You told me half my job was telling people what I wasn't going to do.


Jayson Davies

That's true, too.


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

You know, what I would add to what Marie is saying is that, you know, we go to these IEP meetings, and we want to tell a story and explain something to a parent or the teacher, but mainly to the parent in a way that makes sense to the parent. And what Schoodles provides is it helps us tell the story, we have these work samples that the student-produced that we can share, and that has a real-life... apply to the real-life situation of a student and what they're expected to do in the classroom. And you know, just the age ranges, which we'll talk about in a minute. But being able to compare how the student is functioning to the typical age range, I think that makes sense to parents in a way that and teachers in a way that maybe just a standardized score doesn't. So, I think just Schoodles helps tell the story of the child and why they're struggling, where they're struggling, and why they're struggling in a way that so I liked the bot a little bit more than Marie does. So, I mean, I use it so. But those two things together worked well. For me.


Jayson Davies

That's great to hear because I can see you know, people who've tried to get, I mean, we almost get stuck in our ways. We find an assessment tool that we use, and we tend to go back to that assessment tool. And it's hard to keep up with new assessments or maybe not even new but just assessments that maybe your friend is Using across the country and they recommend the Schoodles, they recommend the M fund, they recommend a different assessment that you've never heard of. And it takes some energy to learn a new assessment. But that's great that you can find assessments that kind of work together a little bit. So, Monica, you actually kind of started down. So, we'll just continue with that. What is the age range for the Schoodles?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

It typically starts at age three. So, then we start with basic skills like tracing and design, imitation, you know, that is more of a preschool. And, you know, most of the tasks, if you're looking at kids who are in general education, it would like to be up through fourth or fifth grade, I use parts of it for middle school or high school students, for students that are in special day classes, who maybe are functioning at a lower level, you can use Schoodles to assess where are they as far as their developmental levels. So, the age range typically is age three through fourth or fifth grade, but I've used it all the way up to 18-year-olds.


Jayson Davies

Yeah. And I think we all have kind of go above the cap, if you want to call it that for assessment tools, for that same exact reason for kids who are a little bit more severe in needs and yet still appropriate to the kind of understand where their skills are. So that makes sense. But like you said, I think so around the fourth or fifth-grade level, for a Gen Ed kid student a typical developing no IEP, they might, they should be able to basically get good scores across the board.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Exactly. Right. And one more qualifier for the Schoodles, you know, on the downside of it on a three-year-old side, that three-year-old would have to be able to follow some directions to be able to get useful information off of the Schoodles assessment. And if they can't, then you know, you default to the Peabody and keep going down. Right? Yes,


Jayson Davies

Right.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

But yeah, so I often get that question when I'm talking to therapists, and they're wondering about schools. So yeah, they have to be able to kind of follow directions.


Jayson Davies

Yeah, yeah, definitely. And I'll speak to that, actually, because, well, first of all, I love that it starts at three because that is your typical preschool-age entrance for most kids, right, three years old, that's when they're first going to move over from an IFSP if they have one, into a potential IEP preschool level. So that's great that it starts right than kind of goes along with the name Schoodles. Your second point, as you said, the kids need to have some ability to attend to these tasks that are functional. And I experienced this firsthand, Marie and Monica, were so kind to send me a copy of the Schoodles. And I did it recently, probably not to the full extent that I probably could have. Because just like what Marie was saying, these kids were in that three to four age range. But diagnosis that they had, the ability to attend, especially over a computer made that very difficult, I spent a lot of time trying to teach the task to the parent, and then have the parent teach the task to the child. But that stuff, I mean, and in this case, particular case, it was a foster parent who had only had the kids for a short period of time, which you can imagine any assessment that would be a little tricky, but yeah, no, I love it, though. I've had my hands on it and been looking at the manual. And I appreciate some of the things that that they've put into it. I'm going to ask them in just a second actually to share some examples of what you might find when you open up the Schoodles. But first, I want to ask, we're in the fourth edition now, how have the Schoodles changed from the first, second, third? Did it skip an edition? I don't know. Where are we at? How did that go?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

It's basically the same tool that we started with originally with what that Amy and I put together and over, you know, we kept wanting to make it a little better and add a few more things and add more evidence. So, what we've ended up with now, you know, since the first second, and the third was pretty good, but when Monica joined, we wanted to kind of redesign some of it and add some more like classroom observations, teacher questionnaires, goal, we added a goal writing template. Let's see what else did we add? We add Oh, and then most recently, we added an online version. When this was before the pandemic, we had a large school district asked us you know how they could purchase our tool but they wanted some more control over it. So, we ended up adding a membership, which we have just loved because we can add, add all kinds of new stuff. We can change things based on what therapists think and tell us and we can add new tools to that membership without having to add another addition. So...


Jayson Davies

Nice.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Yeah, yeah, that's evolved. It's evolving. It's still evolving.


Jayson Davies

Right? Yeah. And you know, back to that whole, you know, technology has changed the world and things that you can do now are nice. You're right. I mean, you can add something because well, you don't have to send out a whole new book or whatever. If you change one thing, it can just be a new printout that people can access. So, that's awesome.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Exactly. And therapists are kind of us don't want to be continually buying new addition. So, this is the last one. This is it.


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Is it? Really, no, we have to keep going. You know, I wanted to add an area that we expanded where we expanded our handwriting worksheets. So you know, I know we keep looping back to handwriting, but we used to have one handwriting worksheet, and now we've expanded it to handwriting A, B, and C, so that you can have with a kindergartener who's starting to write you would use a, and then, you know, they progressively get more complicated the sentence they have the cop murder, and then we're also looking for, you know, can they, if something's been dictated can they write and then also self-generation, you know, which is a school-based OT, it's really important to differentiate where the breakdown is in handwriting. Can they copy neatly? Right? Does the breakdown happen when they have to self-generate come up with the idea to access their short-term memory to spell come up with the grammar? And so, we want to analyze all of those things. And I think, between the Schoodles manual and the banded worksheets that we've made, it's very easy to say, Aha, the break that they're really falling apart when they have to self-generate, you know, and then what part of the self-generation is hard. And then, you know, as OTs, we're always asking ourselves, why, okay, if they can copy neatly, why can't they self-generate, and then we start talking to other team members, if I can just share a quick story of a boy I assess last week, he was a 10th grader, who he was, okay, we know his handwriting is bad, we need to call the OT. And so, when I was talking to him, he could copy everything was fine. He said, “I can't take notes.” And when I take notes, you know, because when the 10th grader, of course, I just asked him a lot of questions like hardware that aren't. So, it's hard when I take notes. Well, lo and behold, he has qualified, he's had an IEP for many years. And it's a learning disability related to auditory processing. So, aha, he can't listen. And the process and then also take notes at the same time. So, my recommendation was not that he needed OT because his visual motor skills were an area of strength. What did he need copies of class notes? So, I think that's where Schoodles you really can start digging into that information with real, real examples, rather than you know, BOT is never going to tell you that. So, anyway.


Jayson Davies

Absolutely. That's a great example. I love it. Actually, I want to continue with that. So, there are some handwriting examples that you just gave, what other classes I think you kind of refer to these Marie as the classroom skills, what other classroom skills are, are looked at within the Schoodles assessment?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

So, we have puzzle skills coloring, cutting, draw a person? And am I forgetting any Monica?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Yeah, we have a copy design. And the cutting, we have a graded cutting. So, it starts with um, snipping on a straight line, curved line, zigzag line, Circle Square, and then we have our complex shape. That is an adorable little fish. So, I will say that I like the bot. So, I don't want your listeners to think that I am trashing the bot. But I will say if you give a child especially a younger child, the picture of a cute fish and say, you want to cut this out or that page from the bottom, where they always say, what am I making? Well, sorry, you're not really making anything, you're just cutting out a circle. So, then they always ask you like, cut out the square? No, no, no, it's right. But when you give them the fish, you know, as OTs we always think about motivation. Well, little kids are more motivated to cut out a cute fish. So, I have gotten a better cutting sample with the fish from Schoodles that is a common label when a circle should have been easier for them. But there was nothing in the circle that engaged them. So anyway, and there are the fishes very interesting because they like to cut off the top fin, you know, they'll kind of go and then that will tell me like, okay, they couldn't turn that corner, make it up and over. So that gets snipped off. And then I'll look at did they notice that they cut it off? Did they even see that that part was cut off? Or do they just keep going and say hey, you know, great? So, I get more information from the fish, swimming, the cutting is broken down into many different steps. And was that your question? Jayson? Sorry.


Jayson Davies

Yeah, basically, I mean, what are the different types of activities that we would see in the classroom that the Schoodles assesses? And you kind of went through that. So different cutting activities, handwriting, and you mentioned a few others. So great. And then going beyond that, earlier, you kind of mentioned that you kind of look at the classroom skills, but then you also look at the skills needed, I think you called them to the support skills. So how do the Schoodles then look at some of those support skills? Is it built into those classroom tasks? Is it a separate part of it? Or what does that look like?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

So, great question, those supporting skills are separated. And you can do them in order, or you can do them, mix them in with the classroom skills to keep your students energized and engaged. But those so they're separate. And so, you're looking for, for different things, perhaps then, in the classroom skill, so you're looking for motor planning, strength, balance, those types of things with those supporting skills. So, we would do jumping, jacks, skipping, hopping, some balance tasks, muscle testing which I had never seen done, with kids. In the school system. I was never trained that way. But it was something that we added in that we find very helpful, because you're getting your hands on the kids, and feeling their muscles, some vision, visual tracking, some of those types of things. So, lots of different little bits and pieces that you can glean information from and kind of make create your story like Monica was talking about.


Jayson Davies

Great, I love that I always tell therapists that our evaluations need to be top-up, top-down. And I think what your kind of explaining you start with the classroom skills, which is your very top, you're very observational, can they do this activity, and then it’s kind of sounds like you get to more of those supporting skills. Alright, now let's break it down. Let's find out what processing skills what other skills are preventing or even providing the student with the capacity to access those upper-level observations, not observations, but the classroom skills? That's a good term. I like that term classroom skills.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Yep. Excellent, excellent explanation, Jayson.


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

I'm gonna use that.


Jayson Davies

Thank you. Right. Well, let's go ahead and continue, we've used the bot. So, I'm going to kind of use this as an example. Oh, and I wanted to actually touch on that. I feel very similar to Monica, about the bot, I use the bot. However, I don't think it gives you those classroom skills that we were just talking about. And so absolutely, I think that the bot gives you a lot of information. But I don't know that it gives you the same type of information, using the story we were just talking about. It gives you the processing skills, potentially as opposed to those higher classroom skills. So, all right, go ahead. Do you want to add to that, Monica?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Yeah, I just think the way that I look at the bot, so this could be another podcast for you that the bot score, okay, it is more than a score. I mean, I'm watching, you know, how are they problem-solving with the manual dexterity? How are they picking things up? how, you know, I'm not just looking at the score at the end, which often, you know, even like with the design copy, do they have for closure, because they have attention, and they just whip through it so fast. That, you know, they're just you know, that isn't necessarily visual, it's a visual motor delay, it's attention. So, you know, the bot gives me a lot of information that maybe I might not see all of that in Schoodles, and the districts that I work within need a standardized score. So, I know not all school districts need that Marie referenced a school district that is exclusively using Schoodles, but we need a standardized score. If I can't get it, I mean, I can say that the SPM or the sensory profile is a standardized score as part of my report. But I think marrying the bot or even the VMI, but I prefer the BOT over the VMI with Schoodles to me is like I feel like I'm done. I have I do my observations, talk to the teacher talk to the parent. And rarely Am I stumped with what's going on here. I feel like that all those data sources, you know, we have to collect data from multiple sources. And once you've done all of that you're covered basically with information gathering.


Jayson Davies

Absolutely. And you know what?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

The other piece of information galleries, I always look deep into the history, the IP histories. My last little piece there.


Jayson Davies

Absolutely. No, that's exactly what I teach in my courses to start first with that reason for the referral. And then get the information that you can gather from previous IEP IFSP is other documents that you have access to. And then that next step is to start doing those observations and figure out those classroom skills. So absolutely. All right, you actually just answered the next question, which I think was awesome about additional tools. Do you use additional tools? And I know you've already mentioned you'd like to use the bot potentially with it, maybe you'll jump in there with the SPM, or the sensory profile use, it sounded like, Maria, did you want to add anything to that? Are there other tools that you like to use along with the Schoodles?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

I mostly did not use the bot and use the VMI. Pretty much all the time. I liked those two, mostly because I was getting so much information from Schoodles that I wanted something very short and easy that I could corroborate with schools, and then use those scores, those standardized scores and talk to other service providers to see what they were getting in on their testing to see if it matched, to see if it was going along with what they were getting in if I was in the ballpark. So that's like, actually, what I did was, I loved the VMI. So, Monica and I diverged on our standardized testing choices, I guess.


Jayson Davies

Okay, that's perfect. As OTs, we all get our own little creative license to find the tools that we think will suit us best. So that is perfectly fine. Yeah. All right, I want to kind of, like, obviously not wrap up, we still have plenty to talk about. But before we kind of move on to our next session or section, I guess I could say, what does the data collection look like for the Schoodles? I think most therapists are very familiar with the bot with the VMI. How does the collection of the data? Are you marking down items as students’ complete stuff? Do you have to go back and look at the work samples the score? What does that look like?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

So, we have, um, it's a clinical observation chart that I print off. And I'll just talk about how I use it, I print them off, I have it sitting there with me, while I'm with the student, I do tell the student you know, I'm gonna write this down because I have kind of an old brain. So, help me remember later, which, sadly, kind of true at this point. But I, I write everything down. So, I'm making notes as I go along. I will look at the work samples later. But mostly, I'm able to make all my notes while I'm assessing Unless, you know, occasionally I'll have the student where you just have to move quickly from thing to thing because you lose them if there's even a slight delay. So, there is there isn't a score. That's all qualitative. And it's the most of the things we're looking at, as we talked about before, Marie is really into research. And so, she has done extensive research to find the typical age ranges or skill attainment or each area. So that's included in Schoodles. And so, when you go to write your report, you may reference that chart memory can talk a little bit more about the criterion reference chart, but a reference that chart to find out are they where they should be, you know, matching their chronological age. So that's the data collection is in real-time. And then later, you can take the information that you have and compare it to the chart and see where what level your student is functioning out.


Jayson Davies

Great. And, Marie, do you kind of want to hop in there and talk a little bit about the criterion reference right now?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Yeah, yeah, I believe we've got about 20 skills outlined on the criterion-referenced chart that we created. And I dug into every skill and I found, it's all evidence-based information. I didn't include anything that wasn't on that chart. I wasn't, you know, me guessing on the ages, so there are some things therefore that aren't on the chart, because there wasn't any research that I could find on that, like muscle tone, we don't have that on there, because there isn't any qualitative or quantitative measurement for that or age levels of when you should have a certain kind of muscle tone. So maybe those types of things aren't on there. But there are, there are, I was surprised at how much I did find, and then put that all together on one in one place.


Jayson Davies

Great. I love that because that means that you can go and you can do this assessment tool. And then like Monica was kind of referencing you can have that, that "cheat sheet", I'm just gonna criterion reference right there next to you and say, all right, well, on the fish, this student was able to do this and this but maybe they weren't able to. I'm just gonna say maybe they didn't use two hands effectively or something like that. And then they can kind of cross-reference that to your criterion reference sheet and say, Okay, well at age four, that's okay. But maybe at age five, they should have been able to better use both hands to cut around the fish. All right.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

exactly. Perfect.


Jayson Davies

Cool. All right. I want to ask one more question about testing. Because I know this is something we all learned back in OT school, but it's something that I think we quickly forget. And that is a standardized test and what is and what isn't a standardized test. Earlier, you did mention that this is not a standardized test. I think I heard that correctly. Right.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Yep. Right.


Jayson Davies

All right. So, what makes a standardized test? How is this not a standardized test? And what are the benefits or, or doubt duffles? Did I say that right? If there are any…


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Yeah. to not have, okay, so a standardized tool is used to compare a student's performance to a normative sample population. So, you get your standard score, you get a standard deviation, and you get percentile ranks. And this is often where you find the qualifying scores for special ed, you need standardized scores for that. But being a related service, we only need to show needs. So, we don't necessarily need to use a standard score according to IDA to be able to serve a child with a need, we just have to show that they need occupational therapy. So, I found this description that I liked. It's a standardized assessment seeks to measure the measurable, while non-standardized test measure students’ skills that are noticeable and may be significant, but cannot be quantified. Yeah. Yeah. I love Wow. Isn't that great? Well, non-standardized tools are performance-based then which is what Schoodles is, and the criterion-referenced tools are a form of non-standardized assessment. And these are not designed to compare one child's performance to another. So, this would be something like the help of the Carolina I don't know if you've used either of those Jayson.


Jayson Davies

No, I haven't


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Teeny tinies. So those have a breakdown of different age levels where kids should be attaining and achieving their, their developmental skills. So, this is very similar to that. And these types of criterion reference tools are more helpful in assessing functionality, which is what we're looking at with Schoodles, they are very helpful to measure progress. If you're in early intervention, you're constantly measuring progress and looking to see where the child is to see where you need to go. Which is another way to use criterion reference tools to see what's what, what they need to be doing next on that list. And then you can link when you see where they need to go. That's where you can get your goal. That's the next thing on the checklist for what they need to be doing. So, I think sometimes these criterion reference tools because you can, you can vary the way you're wording, the question, or you can change the amount of help you're giving. Or you can change the type of toy that you might be offering or the type of pen that you might be using can you can change things around a little bit to get the best performance out of the student, and also find out what they could do if they had this kind of help, or what they could do if they had this kind of scissors. So, what you cannot do with a standardized test, I guess that's Does that answer your question?


Jayson Davies

Yeah, absolutely. And you said, you know, you can use a different pen and my, my immediate, you know, reaction just, I got a picture of a red pencil in my head. And everyone knows exactly what that red pencil is. You don't have to use a red pencil with this assessment. You know what, you don't want to follow that up. Monica, you may even go with your question or where you were going with it when it comes to writing goals and measuring goals. How can you use the Schoodles in order to potentially measure the goals that you're writing?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

I think that that it actually because you've assessed function like our goals are supposed to be written, what is the educational need, what is it that you're trying to help the child to achieve in the classroom or their school environment doesn't it might not even be you might be out on the playground or you know, in a different area of the school. But, you know, the goals are not supposed to be the clinical sounding goals about increasing strength or range of motion, the goal should be related to the function within the school. So, if you have work samples, and you've collected data that directly relates to the function of the child at the school, then your goal can be taken directly from that. And you can measure with percentages. So, if you have a little, little person who maybe can copy all of their capital letters, but from memory, they can only come with five, you know, then your goal maybe we'll be able to you know in order to complete classwork x student will be able to write 20% of capital letters from memory on three out of four trials. So, the goal is derived directly from what the student can do. Now here's what's interesting as well about goal writing in and I see this on the Facebook forum. So, the OTs, Facebook, is that some school districts, there is not a separate goal for Occupational Therapy, I will say what where I work, they want to separate goal. However, you can cure. I know, I'm not saying it's right or wrong, Marie, I'm just saying that my job, I cannot show up without a goal. So. So Emery was shaking her head no, as we're talking so. But at least you can take the information from schools and contribute to the goal if it's a team that's writing the goal. So, there's a lot of good, good direct information to goal writing that you can get from Schoodles.


Jayson Davies

Yeah.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

I ended up sitting with teachers and writing goals with them because I was told not to write my own goals. And I thought, Well, how do they know? How did they know what I want? So, I would go and sit with a teacher and we would write the goal together so that it was their goal that I was supporting.


Jayson Davies

Yeah, and if I can jump in, and, I'm just going to do an example really quick, Monica just had a goal that she created out of thin air, which kudos to you for being a little pull a goal out of thin air, while on the broadcast. on the spot, she had a goal of you know, trying to increase maybe a student from being able to write from their own, just from memory, basically, from the move from five capital letters out of thin air to maybe 20%, which what 20%, I'm gonna guess is somewhere around like eight to 10 letters, capital letters, I don't know, I'm not a mathematician. But anyway, maybe we're trying to double the number of capital letters that they wanted. They want to be able to formulate, right? Well, now I think, Marie, and correct me if I'm wrong, you might say, Well, I'm gonna go talk to that teacher. And we're gonna say, hey, the student is going to start every sentence with a capital letter, and 20 to 40% of their sentences. And that is now a teacher and an OT goal. Am I right?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Exactly. Perfect. Jayson. Yep, exactly. It was, it often did look completely different than what I had in my mind because it is it better. And it did fit better with what they were trying to do in the classroom, which is what we want.


Jayson Davies

Exactly, you know, I've struggled with the same, that same idea of whether we have to have our own goal, whether we can be on a teacher's goal, and I have most commonly found that it depends on the teacher and depends on the IEP team and depends how they want to do it and you have to be flexible and be able to kind of go both ways and work with the team to kind of make a make an IEP come together. So definitely. Alright, well, we're gonna kind of get to the final few questions. We can wrap it up. We've been having so much fun time flying by telehealth, obviously, right now, we are kind of getting to the tail end of the pandemic, people are starting to go back to school. I will the time that I did try the assessment. I kind of mentioned that earlier. It was over a telehealth model. Maybe I should have asked you this before I did it over the telehealth Model Can the Schoodles be used over a telehealth model? Does it look different? Does it look similar? What have you found?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

So, I have been using it over the past year remotely. So, we have we do send a package of the Student Workbook to the student ahead of time. And what we do is we send a little pair of scissors and pencils and crayons because a lot of students I work with are a low resource. And so, we want to make sure they have everything we do have to most often have to have an E helper. So ahead of time we talked about there has to be a parent sitting there helping will interview the E helper ahead of time. And usually, it's a parent, so it's a good time to both get your interview questions in and then just let them know what to expect on the assessment. Typically, they've gone well, the students that have a harder time are for me, it's very hard to manage behavior through a screen. So, you know, it's hard to control your materials through a screen. And so, but it has worked well we've figured it out when the pandemic happened, we interviewed some telehealth, OTs and asked them what they needed. And they gave us some good ideas. What they needed was videos of us doing visual motor, the fine motor coordination so they weren't having to demonstrate it and watch the child at the same time. A part of the online membership of Schoodles essentially videos of me going through all the fine motor, you know, look at me, copy what I'm doing. And so, the therapist can just play the video, and then the student will be watching the video. And then the evaluator can then watch the student and get your data that way. So, um, it has been pretty effective. And the thing about Schoodles was telehealth is I will have that student hold up their work sample to the screen. And as long as they... you've probably done this, Jayson, as long as they hold it steady, I can print a screen picture of it. Hold it steady. If I do the bot, which I've done remotely if it's only verbal directions, the VMI the bot, but I have to get those protocols back. So, we have a mechanism to get them back. But with schools, you don't necessarily because you're not scoring it. You don't necessarily have to get the actual test materials down.


Jayson Davies

Yeah, I often have my parents try and scan it with their phone and email it to me or something like that. But yeah, you can do the print. If the kid knows how to use it, how to get the camera in front of the camera. It's funny the things you see when the kid tries to put the paper up to up to the camera.


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

to record our directions. Okay, back in it. Okay, now. Hold it real still.


Jayson Davies

Right? And then also, I mean, how many times have you asked to see the kids work? And then like, you can't see anything because they use the pencil and like, just to light unless they're using a dark cran or something. It's just you can't see it anyway.


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Yeah, definitely challenges with that.


Jayson Davies

Yeah, definitely. I will say I prefer in-person occupational therapy. I, I just do


Marie Frank, OTR/L

any arguments from us?


Jayson Davies

Yeah, shout out to anyone who's doing very well and enjoying the process and making it work because it is tricky. I know, I get comments on social media every day from people who are saying it's hard. I'm right. They're very hard. It's hard. Yeah, very hard. Alright, so I have two more questions for you. We're gonna wrap this up. The first one is, for anyone who is listening right now, maybe they've never had access to the Schoodlesand they go to their school district? Or maybe they're even just going to go buy themselves. And it comes in the mail on day one, what is your recommendation that they start with first? If they just got this Schoodles in the mail? What should they do first?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

I would highly recommend going through the manual, it's not very long, it's a pretty quick read. And it outlines each skill that you're going to be looking at and what to look for while you're with the students. So that would be it's not long, it's not like you're reading a textbook, it goes pretty quick. And we've tried to make it as you know, just the facts, you know, just we're not going on and on and on about information. It's like this is what you're looking for. This is why and next. So that would be the first and then step to dig in. You know that we have a penguin the color we have a fish to cut out I mean; the kids love it. You're not going to go wrong. You know, I think we get all nervous with these standardized tests, especially the ones that you have to say things in a certain way that does not school you just you can bring your crayons your pencil your scissors and have some fun with it with the kids.


Jayson Davies

Love it. Maria, did you want to add anything to that?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

No, I loved what she just said you know don't be nervous about it and just try even if you just try a small part of it and get you to get information from that and then you try it you know add a little bit more the next time and add a little bit more than next time to your comfort level that that and then you know always you can email us we answer


Jayson Davies

That's perfect.


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Or anything like that. We love to talk to other therapists. It's really fun for us. So yeah, it's you can email Monica@schoodles or Maria@schoodles. If you want a research-driven response, go to Marie. Even with babies, I've been with K through 12. So, if you have a question more to do with K through 12 what Marie knows K through 12 two but you have a question with more older students you can market Schoodles.


Jayson Davies

Alright, sorry, the way that this podcast works is that I come up with questions on the fly based upon what I hear. And so, I haven't asked you any questions Marie about research and Monica has been throwing it out all day long, but you love research. So, I'm gonna ask you like what is your relationship with research? Have you done research? Do you just love reading it? Are you researching the Schoodles?


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Oh, that's such a good question. I think I just want it to be correct. I just want to be, I am, I am such a science nerd, I want everything to have evidence. And I don't want to be putting things out there that aren't correct and true. And, and, and have science behind it, that that's just the way I am.



Jayson Davies

Agreed. And that goes with that criterion tool that you've talked about earlier, you went through and found all the research and, and put it on paper. So that's great. Awesome. All right. Well, you mentioned your emails, Monica@schoodles and Maria@schoodles, where can anyone get more information about the Schoodles quickly, if they want to find out more?


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

You can go to our website schoodles.com. There's information there about purchasing either the hard copy of Schoodles or the memberships. There's also information if your school district has a PO or you want to group memberships on group pricing, it's all there on the website. It's schoodles.com.


Jayson Davies

And just because I know it's easy to do, and I did it earlier, that's schoodles.com.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

Yeah,


Jayson Davies

Alrighty. Well, that's gonna wrap us up for today. Thank you, Marie. Thank you, Monica, so much for coming on the show. It has truly been a fun experience and a knowledgeable one.


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Right. Thank you, Jayson.


Jayson Davies

Thank you.


Marie Frank, OTR/L

A delight.


Jayson Davies

Thank you. You guys make my job easy. So, I appreciate it. Thank you so much. Take care and have a great rest of your Sunday. Bye.


Monica Fortunato, OTR/L

Thanks.


Jayson Davies

And that is how we are wrapping up the OT School House podcast today. Thank you, again so much to Maria and Monica, for coming on and sharing all that information with us about the Schoodles and just about assessments in general. So much of what they said was appropriate, no matter what assessment tool you use, whether you're using the Schoodles, the bot, the VMI, or any other tool assessments are still assessments. And they take a lot of information, a lot of knowledge, and a lot of skills from the occupational therapist to have a good assessment. And with that, thank you one more time so much for listening to the OT School House podcast this time, and every time that you listen, I appreciate it. I'd also really appreciate it if you took a moment to leave me a review down in the comments on Apple podcasts. Those reviews help me to grow this podcast to make it better for you and every other occupational therapy practitioner that listens in at any time. Thank you so much for taking the time to learn with me today. And I'll see you next time. Bye-bye.


Amazing Narrator

Thank you for listening to the OT School House podcast. For more ways to help you and your students succeed right now. Head on over to OT School House.com until next time, class is dismissed.



Be sure to subscribe to the OT School House email list & get access to our free downloads of Gray-Space paper and the Occupational Profile for school-based OTs.


Have any questions or comments about the podcast? Email Jayson at Jayson@otschoolhouse.com

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