Posted in Assistive Technology

-Using OneNote to take Notes in Secondary Schools and College

Another of my favorite therapy areas is teaching students how to take notes.  Taking notes is not easy.  Students must be able to respond to auditory cues with a pen/pencil or a keyboard.  Some students feel the need to take down every word, while others can take down the highlights.  Since I am an occupational therapist, my job is to teach students how to respond to environmental cues with movement.  So I would like to talk about taking notes in my favorite note-taking program, OneNote.

There are a number of reasons to set up note – taking templates or forms in OneNote.  For example, this T-Chart can be used for a number of different classes and discussions within a class.  Prompts that may indicate that a T-Chart should be used are:  Compare/Contrast; Conversely; Vocabulary Words/Definitions; Pros/Cons, etc.  This note-taking template can also be used for pre-algebra/algebra or anywhere where there is a rule and a sample.  The Cornell style of note-taking also uses a asymmetrical T-Chart for cues and notes.

Simple T-Chart created from a table and saved as a template
Simple T-Chart created from a table and saved as a template

Much of the job is already done for the student.  The page is already formatted for the student.  I find that formatting is often part of the delay and disorganization in taking notes.  If you click on the date, a little calendar appears and the date can be easily changed (calendar will indicate the correct date).  The same can be done for the time. Rows can easily be added to the table by clicking on the appropriate icon in the ribbon at the top of the screen or by right-click and then click on Table.  The color of the page and print can also be changed to address any visual concerns.

The real trick is learning the verbal prompts so that the appropriate form can be identified and opened.  The great part of this system is that this is an auto-save program!  If the student closes the program before saving, the work will still be there.  Another factor to consider is keyboarding speed and accuracy.  Figure out if the student can take dictation on the keyboard accurately before recommending this method to any student.

Posted in Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L, Occupational Therapy

Working on a New Book

I am currently working on a new book called “Mom, Do I Have to Take Notes?”  This will be a humorous look at note-taking skills for students in grades 4 through college.


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Posted in Assistive Technology, Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L, Occupational Therapy

How Important is the Content of a Referral When Evaluating for Occupational Therapy?

When conducting an evaluation, in my case either an occupational therapy or assistive technology evaluation, is the quality of the referral important?  In my opinion, absolutely!

Occupational therapy [and assistive technology] cover a huge array of skills in an infinite number of areas.  When conducting a school-based evaluation, it is prudent to know what the student’s difficulties are.  For example, if a student is unable to take notes, I would explore a variety of skills in detail [visual tracking, handwriting, orientation to sound, etc.].  I would need to know that the student is having difficulty in this area and this is an area that the school would like to address.  I would also need to know what the student thinks:  Is writing notes the problem or is something else.  Students need to provide feedback during an evaluation.  Their feedback provides insight to strengths and limitations that professionals might not see.

If I were evaluating a senior citizen, I would need to know what current and future living situations are being discussed and what the expectations of the patient and possibly the family might be.  For example, does the patient and or the family expect that this patient will cook or shop independently?  Although I would surely conduct a global assessment of this patient’s skills, I would definitely expand and focus on the skills that the patient is expected to be able to do.  In the case of cooking and shopping, my evaluation would focus on handling utensils, navigating the kitchen, energy conservation and safety, including fall prevention, both in the kitchen and out in the community, the patient’s ability to follow written and verbal directions, generating a shopping list, etc.

The referral asks the questions that the patient and his or her family need answers to.  Having a referral focuses the evaluation on the client, the student, the patient.  It shows the person being evaluated that his or her needs are important and valued.  This helps develop a rapport with the client that can support the therapeutic process so that the client has a vested interest in participating in therapy.

So, in addition to the diagnosis, the client needs to learn what an occupational therapist does and what he or she can assist with prior to the evaluation.  My next blog will cover “Just What Does and Occupational Therapist do?”