February 2014

Newsletter of ELR Software Pty Ltd

ABN 67 090 738 702

ELR Software produces a range of computer programs designed by speech pathologists for speech, language & literacy intervention. Our programs may be used interactively within therapy sessions, to increase efficiency in service delivery, and to improve access to the Internet for people with special needs. We are also available as consultants to clinicians and research projects in the fields of literacy and accessibility issues associated with the Internet.

The aim of this newsletter is to inform you of developments and changes to our major products eLr (Extra Language Resources), Build-a-Sentence, Word Meanings, Rude Readers and EIA (Enhancing Internet Access). We welcome the opportunity for feedback and questions, and will be pleased to consider including reader contributions and announcements.

This Newsletter (and previous editions) as well as a "print-ready" PDF version of the current edition is available online at www.elr.com.au/news. An email version is also sent monthly to members of our mailing list (See Subscribing/Unsubscribing).

In this issue -

  1. Looking back on 2013
  2. New eLr Materials
  3. Other Independent Developers
  4. Free Downloads
  5. ELR 2014 Calendar

  1. Looking back on 2013

    Sometime each December/January we have a little review of the year passed, and this year surprised us. It had seemed to go so quickly that it felt we'd not achieved very much, however 2013 for eLr actually stacks up fairly well!

    Our biggest achievement was producing an iPad app version of eLr-Offline which is included with and updated in parallel with subscriptions to the web based resource. Previously only available as a Windows version, eLr-Offline doesn't require web access and is an invaluable tool, especially for those of us working with children, and/or using a service delivery model where you go from one site to another (eg schools). Using an iPad is so motivating for students, and access to the tasks is instantaneous. We receive lots of feedback that the children love doing home practice because it is on an iPad.

    In November we reached another milestone when the eLr Directory topped more than 12,000 activities. From our humble beginnings back in 2000 when the Directory contained less than 2,000 activities, this represents quite an expansion. Our aim is to provide a resource that works as a "portable filing cabinet of targeted activities" for people supporting clients or family members who have speech, language or literacy disorders. The eLr activities are designed to optimise interaction between the individual and their support person, and to encourage expressive language development. Thus, there is no sound or speech (encouraging spontaneous language), and the on-screen appearance is simple and uncluttered to cater for those who become distracted easily. The professional subscriber (speech pathologist, teacher, or other clinician) is able to provide their clients with easy access to activities that target their specific need using a free Guest Access mechanism.

    Each month new activities are added to eLr and a new edition of eLr is available for download on your computer or iPad. During 2013 more than 350 new tasks and 2 new models were developed. The Sentence Maker model is used in the "Using Language" section and targets comprehension of "wh" questions (who, what doing, where) and supports the development of increasingly complex sentences, from 2 part ("the man is eating"), to 4 part sentences ("the man is eating a banana in the park"). The WordBreaker model in the "Reading and Spelling" section provides material to teach word segmentation skills (breaking words into syllables and sounds), and the sound-letter spelling conventions of English (eg that the /i/ sound may be spelt with "i_e" as in bite, "igh" as in night, or "y" as in by).

    In June we caught up with many of our subscribers and made new acquaintances at the Speech Pathology Australia Conference at the Gold Coast. This conference is always fun as our speech pathologist likes to attend as many papers as possible, and as a team we receive lots of feedback and many suggestions for new material.

    During the year we provided demonstrations and tutorials (face to face, and over the web) about how to use eLr, and how to provide Guest Access. We are aware that eLr is a very large resource. While this is an excellent attribute (as you can have all your therapy needs in one place), it also means it requires familiarisation so that you can quickly locate the specific materials you need.

    We would like to thank our subscribers and others who have provided us with feedback and suggestions. We wish you all the very best for 2014, and invite you to contact us if you or your work group would like support and training.

  2. New eLr Materials

    Twenty-one new tasks have been added to "Reading and Spelling - Long Vowel sounds". All tasks are in the /oo/ (as in "moon") subsection, using the WordBreaker model. This model reinforces knowledge of how to break words into sounds, and provides visual support for the spelling patterns of each sound. These activities are useful for children learning to read and spell and for those students who have literacy delays who may need a specific focus on word reading and spelling skills.

    Within the /oo/ sound subsection, there are activities focusing on the different spelling choices for that sound, eg "oo" as in moon, "ue" as in blue, "ew" as in knew, "u_e" as in flute, and "u" as in flu. Once each of the spelling patterns has been mastered, the "assorted spellings of this sound" subsection provides material to teach discrimination of those words that sound the same but have different spelling patterns, eg "blew blue", "flew flu". The model involves a sorting activity which helps the student consolidate knowledge of words that share a spelling pattern. For example, after the student has broken the word into sounds, the word is placed with words that share the same spelling pattern.

    In these tasks, as with most eLr activities, the role of the clinician/helper is central in providing corrective feedback about accurate decoding and segmentation, which has been shown in research to play a central role in development of sight word knowledge. Extension activities are also encouraged, eg once the word has been broken into sounds and sorted, the student would benefit from writing the word and highlighting the sounds in the word.

    For this particular vowel sound we would welcome feedback, as the /oo/ sound has variations in the way it is pronounced. For example, the /oo/ sound spelt "ue" is pronounced /oo/ in words like "blue" and "clue" but in words like "cue", "due" and "argue", it is pronounced /yoo/. Similarly, the /oo/ sound spelt "ew" is pronounced /oo/ in "blew, grew", but as /yoo/ in "stew" and "knew". Some other examples of the /yoo/ pronunciation are "cute, tube" (but not in words like "rule" or "rude"), and "mural, cubic" (but not "lucid" or "sushi"). This model allows for identification of words in English where we pronounce a sound that is not represented by a letter. This also happens in words like "one", which we pronounce as /won/, ie with an extra unspelled /w/ sound at the beginning of the word. We'd left this sound until the end of this body of work to let us further research these variations on pronunciation. In a very few references it is referred to as a diphthong: a blend of two vowels sounds (in this case a blend of a semi-vowel /y/ and a vowel /oo/), but the most common description is that the /oo/ sound is a long vowel sound which is "sometimes pronounced with a /y/ at the beginning", ie /yoo/. As we have said, feel free to email, as we'd love a discussion about this.

  3. Other Independent Developers

    As an occasional feature of this Newsletter, we include simple, unpaid announcements of products developed by other small, independent developers, who, like ourselves, are practising clinicians who have put their ideas and experience into resource materials for general distribution. Links and brief information about these sites may be found at www.elr.com.au/links/developers.htm. To date we have listed -

    If you would like your materials listed on this page (at no charge), please contact us.

  4. Free Downloads

    ELR has a number of free or evaluation files available for downloading directly from our website. Please see www.elr.com.au/downloads.htm for specific details. For other supporting materials and documents available for free download, please see www.elr.com.au/support.htm.

  5. ELR 2014 Calendar

    ELR Software is also able to offer free eLr support and short tutorials over the web. We can provide this sort of support to individuals, or to groups who would like to have an overview of eLr. Please contact us for details.

Subscribing/Unsubscribing to this Newsletter

You are receiving ELR-News because you are an eLr subscriber, or have expressed an interest in either eLr, Rude Readers, Word Meanings, Build-a-Sentence or EIA. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send an e-mail with details to news@elr.com.au

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