ELR Software Pty Ltd
eLr - What's New 2001
We have continued the review and updating of the Semantics-Naming section. Last month we added two new subsections in Nouns-unrelated common and Nouns-unrelated specific. This month we have added 48 new tasks to the Nouns-related common and Nouns-related specific subsections. Two models were used in the new tasks, PicCards, and Slide Show. These models are appropriate for all ages, whereas other models in this section (such as Picture Flyout) may be best suited to the paediatric population.
As usual we welcome feedback and suggestions about the materials - content, layout, and accessibility from the Directory, or any other issue you have noticed as you use the program.
We are in the process of reviewing and updating the naming section in Semantics. This section has previously had a developmental focus, while the revised format provides additional material which can be used within a cognitive neuropsychological approach to semantic therapy for acquired language disorders. The subsections of Naming are now consistent with other sections in Semantics, ie they include tasks in the following subsections: Unrelated Common, Unrelated Specific, Related Common and Related Specific.
A total of 80 new tasks (using the models Slide Show and PicCards) labelled "Set 1" to "Set 20", have now been added to the Semantics - Naming - Nouns section in both Unrelated Common and Unrelated Specific subsections.
Each of the Slide Show sets contain 10 items, and the PicCard contain 9 items (due to layout restrictions). For each there is a corresponding set in the other model with similar content and task number. For example tasks 1005-255 and 1006-255 are different models with the same content. This will enable clinicians to provide practice of the same content with variation in the presentation.
The review of Semantics - Naming will be completed within the next month and available in the December eLr updates. The changes will include additional tasks in each of the Related Common and Related Specific subsections. At the moment these sections have a paediatric focus. New tasks using the Slide Show and PicCard models will provide more appropriate material for clients with acquired language disorders.
There have also been slight changes to the content of some of the existing tasks in Semantics - Naming. We have removed some items which were confusing as a naming task, eg "butcher".
There are 16 new tasks in Reading and Spelling - 4 letter words. The tasks involve the Typing with Words model, as this is an activity which most students enjoy. So about 3 tasks appear in each of the subsections (ie using vowel "a", "e", "i", "o", "u", and "assorted"). In the coming months this model will also be added to the "e rule" subsection.
Four new tasks have been added to Phonology - Auditory Discrimination - Medium Contrast Consonants. The tasks target "w/l", "w/r", "l/r" and "f/th" confusions. Auditory discrimination was a new section added last month. It uses one model (called WhiteboardPics). The model usually consists of 6 pairs of pictures. At any one time, two pictures are presented to the client. These can be "shuffled", and the next pair presented by clicking the VCR arrow. The task can be used receptively (ie "show me the ...."), or expressively, by having the client name one of the pairs for the clinician.
The Memory Games in Phonology - Sound by Sound now allow the clinician to select the speed at which the cards flip over. We received feedback from some clinicians that the non-matching cards should stay on the screen for a longer period of time before being automatically turned over. This would then allow the client to articulate each word, or produce the word in a sentence etc. The model now allows the clinician to select the speed that the card turns over. By clicking "Slow", the cards remain for 5 seconds before flipping over. The default speed is 1.75 seconds. This choice allows for those times when you would prefer the game to proceed at a faster rate. We're happy to receive further feedback about the speed. Let us know if it's long enough, and we can change the speed.
There are 35 new tasks using a whole new range of wonderful images (thanks Anna). These appear in the new subsection called Auditory Discrimination in Phonology (see changes section below) which breaks out into minimal-pair sets which present sounds with "high", "medium" or "low contrast". They have been organised in two ways. Some tasks are orientated to developmental processes (eg fronting, initial consonant deletion), and other tasks are aimed at general auditory discrimination. To date, the tasks focus on minimal pairs involving consonants. We are developing further images to enable minimal pairs which contrast the vowel sounds.
A new memory game task has also been added to the Activity Toolbox Section. It works in a similar way to the other PhonPic Tool in this section. The difference is that once you have selected your vocabulary, you are then able to play a memory game.
The Activity Toolbox was a new section added last month, and is designed to be used by clinicians. It will have an increasing number of tasks which enable you to select either specific vocabulary for a task, or eventually, to be able to print a range of game boards etc.
For August, there is one new task and a new section in the eLr Directory. You'll find this solitary addition the most powerful task we've yet done, and most of this Newsletter is directed at explaining its operation. The discussion may also serve as a refresher for use of other eLr tasks. We hope you enjoy this new material. As with all other aspects of eLr, we would love to hear from you. Your comments about ease of use, confusions, or any errors are most appreciated.
The new PhonPic Tool is directed primarily at phonological intervention. It allows the clinician to select a set of single syllable words according to particular phonological patterns. For example, you could select words which have the initial sounds /s, z, sh/, final sounds /t, d, p/, and vowel sounds /ah, ee/, or any other combination that you may need. This task will be useful for phonological process therapy, and as you can select according to vowel sounds, you will also be able to select rhyming words.
Use the first screen of this task to select a set of words, then move to a second screen to see the matching pictures as game of printable "cards". When you load the PhonPic Tool, you will see the following features:
- Sound Selector - panels of buttons displaying phonetic sound symbols
- Click on the phonetic symbols to obtain the set of available words (for which we also have a matching pictograph). You can click any number of symbols in the initial, final and medial positions. You can also make choices according to only one of the positions. For example, you may only want words with a certain vowel, so you would select only that vowel. Or, you may want certain sounds in the final position, or any other combination. To remove a selected sound, click its symbol a second time. And, by letting the cursor dwell on a phonetic symbol, a little help box appears with example words for the sound - in case you're a little rusty on phonetic symbols.
- Available words - a scrollable text box of the available word(s) for a chosen sound(s)
- As you make choices by clicking on the sounds in the Sound Selector, you will see words appearing in the Available words section on the right side of the screen. These are all the words that you can choose from to come up with your final set of words.
- Selected words - a text box showing the current list of selected words
- Click on the Available word(s) you want to appear in your task to add then to the list chosen words appearing in the Selected Words box (the words you have selected also show in bold print in the Available words). If you change your mind, and you want to remove a word from the Selected words, click on the word and it will disappear from the list. You can select up to 12 words per set.
- VCR buttons
- The VCR buttons are located on the top left corner of the screen, as on many of the eLr tasks. In this model they enable you to view your pictures, and play a simple card game.
- Click on the FastForward (double forward arrows) button to see the set of pictures to match your selected words. Click on each picture to "flip" the card.
- Clicking on the Forward and Back buttons allows you to flip all the cards over (or back) at once.
- Click on the FastBack (double back arrows) button and you will be returned to the Sound Selector page
- Radio buttons and check boxes
- These are located along the top of the screen. Many of these selections are available in other eLr Tasks.
- Autosize allows you to choose how big you want the pictures to be, but is dependant on how many pictures are in the set. With 9 or more pictures they will always be the smallest size, so they can fit on a single screen. However, if you have 8 or fewer pictures, Autosize will allow pictures to be maximised to fit the screen. If you always want the same size (say, to print out a set of uniformly sized cards), click Autosize off, so the pictures are always the smallest size.
- Words - by clicking words, only the word for the picture appears
- Images - clicking on images means only the pictures appear
- Both - when this is clicked on, both words and pictures appear
- Help - click off help and the short instruction line will disappear, reducing screen "clutter" and providing a little more screen space
- Colour selector
- This function is on all eLr tasks. By clicking on one of the colours you (or your client) can choose the colour of the background screen. A subsequent use of the VCR FastBack button will also re-set the matching screen colours (as used for the backs of cards for example)
This month we have added a new section to the Directory - the Activities Toolbox. This is an exciting development in eLr, as it will allow clinicians much greater flexibility to cater for individual needs of clients. The features of this section are that:
- It will contain tasks which enable the clinician to customize specific content for individual client. The first model in this collection (the PhonPic Tool) is intended for phonology, but later models will allow selection according to other criteria, eg semantic categories.
- Many of the tasks will be usable on screen as interactive games, such as the PhonPic Tool model which can be used as a simple card game. In future months, we will devise other games, such as "memory" and "slide shows".
- It is also intended that a lot of the material will be useful as printed resources. From the screen, you can print the selection of pictures for use within other table games, or to make up a set of pictures.
- The Activities Toolbox is only available to subscribers, and not through the Guest Access mechanism. These selections are intended for clinicians who wish to build their own sets of activities using eLr materials. Most will need clinical judgement and knowledge to enable appropriate selections.
There have been modifications to the following tasks: 1016-186, 1016-224, 1016-103, 1016-288, 1009-128, 1012-142, 1020-121, 1020-121, 1033-155, 1034-199. Most of these changes have occurred because of minor errors (eg spelling, or words in the wrong position), or because when using a task, a better way to present the task was suggested. This is one of the positive aspects of the web based resource. The changes can be made instantly, and are then available for all users to access.
A total of 182 new tasks have been added to the Directory this month and a new model, a memory game called "MemoryPics", has been developed, prompted by a suggestion from a subscriber - thanks Nancy (we're back in action after the conference!).
We've used MemoryPics first in Phonology with 113 new tasks appearing in all the subsections of Phonology - Later Sounds. It's a fun game, and as therapists, it may be helpful to know that each game starts off with a standard layout of cards (hint, look for the geometrically opposite cards) - so if you like to cheat, you have an advantage. We felt this predictability could be useful. You can play the game as is, or you can shuffle the cards by selecting shuffle, and then reset using the VCR arrow on the top left hand corner.
In Phonemic Awareness there are 24 new Nonsense words activities in Sound Letter Links in Words under the With sound/letter correspondence and Without sound/letter correspondence sections. The new tasks use the "Word sound buttons" model to highlight the sound and letter correspondence in sets of nonsense words.
In the Reading and Spelling section, there are 45 new tasks, also focussing on nonsense words. The model used is "MultiWord Slide Show". Four words are presented to the student, who reads each word, and identifies which word is the real word. The tasks have been added to the sub sections of Three letter words, Four letter words, The "e" rule, Consonant digraphs, and Long vowel digraphs. Similar tasks will also be added to Short vowel digraphs and Diphthong digraphs. We had been aware that eLr had few such tasks, and several therapists at the conference mentioned that they would appreciate materials to reinforce both the "sounding out" of nonsense words and "detecting real words".
There have been minor modifications to the following tasks: 1012-143, 1020-105, 1034-107, 1027-243 and 1003-340. These changes were mostly to do with small typographical errors, so thanks to those people who have notified us. The best way to let us know of an error, is to email us, giving us the task number and the nature of the error. We also appreciate feedback about things that may not be actual errors, but suggestions on ways to improve the task, eg better vocabulary selection.
This month has been full of conferences, so although there are tasks "in the pipeline", they were not able to be posted on the site for this month. Watch this space for next month!
We welcome any feedback - including details of any errors!
eLr-Offline is the compiled version of the full eLr Website which will run directly from your computer, without connection to the Internet (as reported in the March Newsletter). It is available to both our subscribers and anyone else who would like a trial examination of the program (non-subscribers will see certain pages watermarked as "Unregistered"). eLr-Offline is re-built on about the 15th of each month and the current version is placed on our Website for FREE DOWNLOAD.
A mini-CD containing eLr-Offline is also automatically included with all subscriptions, along with a valid User ID and PIN for use with the CD and Website. Each 6 months, an updated CD is mailed to each subscriber to replace and upgrade the previous version. For more information, please see http://www.elr.com.au/offline.
A new document (presently only in PDF format), called "Practice Notes" has been placed in the support area on the eLr Website. Many teachers had requested a little guidance in selecting suitable activities for different skill areas since Speech Pathology reports often list general areas that need to be strengthened (eg "oral narrative", "phonological awareness"). Practice Notes is an attempt to briefly describe the nature of common target areas, to give some general guidelines in activities which can be used, and to also highlight how the eLr tasks can be used and modified to suit the overall program for the student.
eLr tasks are designed with specific goals in mind, but many of the tasks can be presented in a modified way to target a range of goals. An example of this may be seen in the section - Semantics-Spoken word/picture match (eg 1036-110). These tasks are designed for auditory comprehension at the single word level - the therapist or aide names a word, and the student points to the matching picture. The tasks can also be used in a modified way to strengthen use of specific vocabulary in students with weakness in oral narrative skills. Have the student look at all of the pictures and provide "clues" for one of the pictures. The listener (therapist) then guesses which picture the student is describing. By selecting sets of pictures from a Related category (eg 1036-133), the task becomes more difficult, as the items are closely related and therefore require use of precise and specific vocabulary.
Practice Notes is a living document, as is the rest of the site. The first release version (1.2) is currently on the web at http://www.elr.com.au/support/elrprac.pdf, and additions and modifications will occur over time. Feel free to email or phone to comment or contribute to this document.
eLr is designed by a small team comprised of Speech Pathologists, Toni Seiler and Anna Breakell, and computer programmer Rob Seiler (Toni's husband). It is intended to provide interactive web-based activities targeting a wide range of speech, language and literacy goals, in both paediatric and adult populations.
The concept of eLr began in 1997. We discussed methods that would allow Speech Pathologists to utilise the advantages of the Internet to provide an efficient, stimulating service. Such a resource would allow clinicians to provide the same materials in the clinic, school or home, without the need for photocopying.
Many hours were spent discussing how to design such a concept, and how to translate traditional speech therapy activities and concepts to a computer based environment. It took a good 12 months for Toni and Anna to have a grasp of the limitations and opportunities that a computer based system introduced, and likewise for Rob to gain an operating knowledge of the language of Speech Pathology.
The site was launched in February 2000. At that time there were about 1,800 activities. During the year 2000, we continued to add activities, so that at this point there are more than 3,100. We have also been undertaking trials of eLr in different service delivery models with a focus on the paediatric population. It has been trialed in schools, and in private practice. We have had much positive feedback about the content, and the ease of providing a range of sessions within a small amount of time.
The main difficulty has been that the Internet is sometimes unreliable. This is no news to most of us! Also, at this time, the schools are in the initial phase of Internet connection, so to speak. Many schools have lots of computers, and have most of the computers connected to the web. But there are often practical issues, like, the computer that the speech pathologist needs to use is not in the right spot to conduct a therapy session etc. Thus we have been working on an extension to the service - eLr-Offline.
eLr-Offline is a CD based "compiled version" of the Web site and although slight technical differences were necessary to allow CD version to operate smoothly, you will find it essentially "mirrors" the Web version. Naturally, the material on the CD will not always be as current as the version on the Internet. This will happen because we are continually adding new material to the Web site. However, subscribers can continue to access the Web site as usual.
A new edition of eLr-Offline will be published every month (to coincide with updates to the Web site) and each CD will expire after 6 months. New subscribers will automatically receive the current version as part of their registration package and will receive an update disc after 6 months. At any time a subscriber can also update directly from the Web. Hence, all subscribers will now be able to either use the Web and/or CD version as appropriate. The same licence and user access details (User ID, PIN and Expiry Date) will apply for either access method. See http://www.elr.com.au/offline for more details.
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