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).
In this issue -
This month we have made a substantial change to the organisation of the "Reading and Spelling" section by dividing it into two sections. The first section, "Reading and Spelling - Early Skills" focuses on materials to teach the alphabetic code, while the second section "Reading and Spelling - Later Skills", provides materials targeting more advanced areas, such as morphology (eg prefixes, suffixes, verb tense) and orthographic knowledge for specific word forms (eg homographs and homophones).
This change reflects developments that have occurred over the past 10 years as a result of research into the most effective methods for early reading instruction, and more importantly, evidence-based instruction and intervention for children with reading impairment.
Eighty-eight new tasks have been added to a new subsection "Systematic Synthetic Phonics", within "Reading and Spelling - Early Skills". This subsection provides material to teach early reading and spelling skills using a Systematic Synthetic Phonics approach - an evidence-based method of teaching early word reading skills.
The new tasks cover the first two sets of grapheme-phoneme correspondences using the Jolly Phonics scope and sequence (set 1, "s, a, t, p, i, n", and set 2, "c|k|ck, e, h, r, m, d"). Each set is divided into two subsections. One subsection provides a range of tasks targeting each grapheme (letter/s), and the second subsection targets all grapheme-phoneme relationships within that set. A range of models (activities) are used within each subsection. The WordSound Buttons and WordSearch models encourage the student to sound out each word; LookThenCover and SmileyMan support the student's ability to recall spelling patterns; and MemoryWords provides a fun activity to consolidate automatic recognition of previously decoded words (sight words). A further model, Typing with Phrases, provides sets of decodable sentences which encourage accurate decoding within context, and an activity (rearranging either phrases or words) to consolidate meaning and grammatical knowledge.
As with all eLr materials, the role of the instructor is a central factor to encourage students to accurately decode, expand vocabulary knowledge, and increase automaticity of word and text reading. In future editions, the Systematic Synthetic Phonics section will be extended to include materials targeting all the grapheme-phoneme relationships to support accurate word reading.
To highlight how eLr "fits" evidence-based reading instruction and intervention, the following is a brief discussion of current models of reading, and the Systematic Synthetic Phonics approach.
Reading is a complex task which involves a range of skills, such as world knowledge, vocabulary, and understanding sentence structure; as well as the ability to accurately read the words on the page. The "Simple View of Reading" is a model of reading which incorporates all of these skills and has been generally supported within current research. It states that Reading Comprehension (which is the prime goal of reading) relies on two broad areas: "Listening Comprehension" (ie vocabulary, knowledge, oral language), and "Word Reading" (being able to automatically read words as well as being able to decode words not known by sight).
The update "Reading and Spelling - Early Skills" section of eLr targets the second area - "Word Reading". It includes tasks which strengthen decoding skills (using knowledge of letter-sound relationships to sound out unfamiliar words) and other tasks which encourage automatic recognition of words that have previously been accurately decoded (sight words). This approach is consistent with Ehri's phase theory of word reading development, and the extensive research supporting Share's phonological recoding theory which describes a self teaching mechanism in which accurate decoding has been shown to support efficient formation of mental images of words. After repeated accurate decoding, words become automatically recognised, thus forming sight words.
This is an approach which involves teaching the alphabetic principle from the smallest unit - the phoneme-grapheme (sound-letter) relationship, with a focus on blending phonemes (ie synthesising) to read words; hence the name "synthetic" phonics. A "systematic" synthetic phonics approach means that synthetic phonics instruction is delivered in a logical sequence with continuous evaluation of progress.
Using this approach, the phoneme-grapheme (sound-letter) relationships for consonants and short vowels are introduced first: this is often referred to as the basic code. The processes of blending and segmenting are taught as soon as the student has mastered a few phoneme-grapheme relationships of the basic code. For example, once the student has mastered the first few sound-letter relationships, materials such as magnetic letters may be used to teach students how to manipulate graphemes to read (using blending) and spell (segmenting) a series of words, such as "at, sat, sap, sip, sin, tin, pat, pit". In conjunction with instruction in the alphabetic code, use of vocabulary controlled books (decodable books) are used to practice decoding and read - starting as soon as the learner has mastered the first few grapheme-phoneme relationships.
As an occasional feature of this Newsletter, we include simple, unpaid announcements of products developed by other small, independent developers, who, like ourselves, have put their ideas and experience into resource materials for general distribution. This month we're pleased to let you know of Behaviour Zen (behaviourzen.com) founded by Dolly Bhargava, a Speech Pathologist with a Masters in Special Education.
Behaviour Zen's mission is to provide an effective path for transforming the lives of children, adolescents and adults with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Resources include books, apps, workshops (online and face to face) and consultancy services covering:
There are also a range of free resources including downloadable booklets and videos designed for parents, child care professionals, educators and health professionals supporting children with a range of disabilities. This includes Down's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability, ADD/ADHD and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. They cover a range of practical strategies which educators and parents can use at home and school to develop the child's skills.
Links and brief information about other independent developers 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.
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.
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.
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