January 2018

Newsletter of ELR Software Pty Ltd

ABN 67 090 738 702
Web: http://www.elr.com.au
Email: news@elr.com.au
Follow: @ELRsoftware

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 and Word Meanings. 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).

Season's Greetings, and we wish you all a safe and happy new year. And special thanks to all to have provided us feedback - always helpful!

In this issue -

  1. New eLr Materials
  2. Looking back on 2017
  3. Changes to eLr Subscriptions
  4. Other Independent Developers
  5. Free Downloads
  6. ELR 2018 Calendar

  1. New eLr Materials

    Fourty-four new tasks have been added to "Phonology-Skills and Early Sounds" in the "Early Consonant Sounds" subsection. As we did last month for words with the /p/ /b/ /t/ /d/ sounds in the medial position, the new tasks aim to provide word based (in addition to the existing picture based) activities to strengthen production of words, this time with with the /m/ /n/ /ng/ and /w/ sounds . These activities may be useful for older learners who have speech sound disorders, eg people with hearing impairment or dyspraxia.

    Within each sound subsection there are three sets of words. The easier set only contains earlier developing consonant sounds, eg in the /m/ subsection, the /t/ and /h/ in "hermit" and "timer" are earlier developing sounds and usually easier to produce. The more difficult set contains later developing consonant sounds, eg in "mammoth" and "charming" the /th/ and /ch/ sounds develop later and are usually more difficult to produce for many people with speech sound disorders. The third set contains words with consonant blends in the medial position, eg "shampoo" and "symbol" as consonant blends may be more complex for some people.

    Four models are used for each set of words. The WordSearch model is a word search activity; SmileyMan is like a "hangman" game; MemoryWords a memory game; and ConnectWords (a "Connect 4" type game). The aim of each activity is to provide an enjoyable way for the learner to practice production of the target sound in words.

    These tasks are best used under the guidance of a speech pathologist. Following a speech pathology assessment the clinician is able to determine (a) the nature of the learner's speech sound disorder (b) appropriate strategies for individual learners, and (c) progression to use of target words in phrases and sentences. As with all eLr tasks the role of the clinician, teacher or support person is crucial in providing feedback about accuracy of production, and ways of encouraging extension activities. These may include a discussion about the meaning of the words and other modifications to help the learner generalise new skills to conversational speech.

  2. Looking back on 2017

    Our main focus this year has been revision of three areas within eLr.

    1. Review of Nonwords

      We revised all nonwords to ensure that only legal spelling patterns were used. Nonwords are used within the "Reading and Spelling" sections of eLr to provide activities that aim to consolidate knowledge of letter-sound (grapheme-phoneme) relationships. For example, a MultiWord Slideshow activity in the subsection targeting the /er/ sound (spelled with "er"), presents the child with four items "stern terst verld blern". The child is asked to decode each item and then to detect the "real" word. This activity encourages the child to pay attention to all letters in the word to support accurate decoding.

      This type of activity is based on well supported theories of early word reading development - "Share's phonological recoding theory" (Share 1995), and research (Cunningham et al 2002) showing that mastery of grapheme-phoneme knowledge and accurate decoding allows the learner to develop clear mental images of words (orthographic representations) which are an essential element of sight word knowledge (Ehri 2005). Further, recent research (Pullen and Lane 2014) suggests that activities which specifically target decoding and grapheme-phoneme knowledge are a key component within interventions for children with word reading impairment.

    2. Review of PCS symbols
    3. The second focus area was a review of all the PCS symbols (Picture Communication Symbols from Mayer-Johnson) used in picture based eLr tasks. eLr uses these PCS symbols for pictographic representation of many items and concepts because these symbols are widely used within the world of speech and language therapy. The new symbols have "cleaner" lines and are less ambiguous.

    4. Review of consonant digraph subsection
    5. The third area was a review of the "Consonant Digraph" section in "Reading and Spelling". Many of these tasks were originally designed in the early 2000s. Since then, research has confirmed the positive outcomes of a systematic synthetic phonics approach to early reading instruction (Johnston 2012). Systematic synthetic phonics involves teaching the learner to convert graphemes to phonemes using a part-to-whole approach.

      Initially, the child is taught grapheme-phoneme rules for consonants and short vowels. For example, the child is first taught letter-sound correspondences for a small set of letters that look and sound distinctly different (eg "m, s, t, a"), and is encouraged to sound out and blend to read words such as "mat, sat, at, sam".

      Later, more letter-sound correspondences are taught to expand the range of words the child is able to decode. After most of the single consonants and short vowels have been taught, consonant digraphs (ie, two letters representing one sounds - "sh, ch, th, wh") are introduced. The revision we completed this year ensures that all words within the Consonant Digraph section contain short vowels, which means the teacher is able to follow a progression that is consistent with systematic synthetic phonics.

    1. Share, DL (1995). Phonological recoding and self-teaching: sine qua non of reading acquisition. Cognition, 55(2), 151-218
    2. Cunningham, A E, Perry, K E, Stanovich, K E, & Share, D L (2002). Orthographic learning during reading: examining the role of self-teaching. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 82(3), 185-199
    3. Ehri, LC (2005). Learning to read words: Theory, findings, and issues. Scientific Studies of Reading, 9(2), 167-188
    4. Pullen, PC, & Lane, HB (2014). Teacher-Directed Decoding Practice with Manipulative Letters and Word Reading Skill Development of Struggling First Grade Students. Exceptionality, 22(1), 1-16
    5. Johnston, R, McGeown, S, & Watson, JE (2012). Long-term effects of synthetic versus analytic phonics teaching on the reading and spelling ability of 10 year old boys and girls. Reading and Writing, 25(6), 1365-1384

    Our small ELR Software team would like to thank you for your support. We enjoy meeting many of you "face to face" during the National Speech Pathology conference each year, and also appreciate all the feedback we get via email and phone calls. We wish you the best for the new year, and look forward to meeting many of you at the May 2018 Speech Pathology Conference in Adelaide.

  3. Changes to eLr Subscriptions

    Over the 2017 year we phased in a small charge for the physical version of eLr-Offline for Windows (provided on a USB key).

    1. All eLr subscriptions include unlimited web access for the subscriber and their clients, as well as eLr-Offline (free iPad and Windows versions which allow access to eLr without needing internet connection).
    2. Subscribers may obtain your free Windows version of eLr-Offline by internet download from our website www.elr.com.au/offline.
    3. If you wish, it is also possible to purchase a physical version (USB key) at a cost of $30 per copy.
    4. All subscribers having a Windows version of eLr-Offline (either installed on a computer or USB key) should run the free, internal process to regularly refresh eLr-Offline to the latest version (available each month).

    If you have any questions about these changes and their implementation, or the automatic updating process, please contact us.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. ELR 2018 Calendar

    ELR Software offers regular, free eLr 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, Build-a-Sentence or Word Meanings. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send an e-mail with details to news@elr.com.au

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