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 -
Fifty-nine new tasks have been added to the "Systematics synthetic phonics" section within "Reading & Spelling - Early Skills". We have been developing tasks to teach the main spelling patterns for 42 sounds in English using a Systematic Synthetic Phonics approach (see below), and arranged according to the Jolly Phonics scope and sequence. In last month's update we covered the first two sets - /s, a, t, p, i, n/ and /c|k|ck, e, h, r, m, d/. This edition adds materials for the third set - /g, o, u, l, f, b/.
Each of these sets is divided into two subsections. One subsection provides a range of tasks to introduce each grapheme (letter/s), and the second subsection targets all grapheme-phoneme relationships in the sets to that point. A range of models (activities) are used within each subsection. The WordSound Buttons and WordSearch models encourage the student to sound out and blend the sounds to read 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.
The Systematic Synthetic Phonics approach is an evidence-based method of teaching early word reading skills (Johnson et al 2005, Hempenstall 2016). It 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. Further discussion of how Synthetic Phonics "fits" within major theoretical models of reading development may be viewed in the newsletter for the December edition.
Key references to support use of Synthetic Phonics:
eLr (Extra Language Resources) was launched in February 2000 as a set of comprehensive resources targeting intervention for people with a broad range of speech, language, and literacy problems. The intention has always been to allow clinicians to provide the same materials in the clinic, school, or home; and web delivery offered this possibility. Although initially developed for the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser, continual adjustments to comply with web standards means that eLr is usable with all modern browsers on computers and tablets. Since its release, eLr has grown from 1,800 activities to currently more than 13,700, and there have been three major delivery innovations in response to changing technology.
The first of these innovations, eLr Offline, was developed in 2001 as we became aware that internet access was not as universally available as we'd anticipated, and often remained very unreliable. So we developed a Windows based "Offline" version, which enabled subscribers to download the entire resource onto a personal computer, eliminating the need for continuous internet access.
The next major development came after the introduction of the Apple iPad in April 2010. In November of that year we released an iPad App version of eLr Offline as a freely available iPad App which is included within each subscription. Most of us would agree that iPads have revolutionised many aspects of our lives, including delivery of speech therapy services. The eLr App not only allows clinicians/instructors to deliver therapy activities in very interactive and flexible ways, it also allows subscribers to provide free access for clients to the eLr materials using the Guest Access registration of the eLr App.
In 2018 we embarked on our third major innovation and returned our focus to web delivery, but this time with a different, but exciting emphasis - eLr is now able to be delivered interactively via the web within teletherapy sessions as eLr for Coviu. This has been achieved in collaboration with Coviu (www.coviu.com), a Sydney based company which has a particular interest in teletherapy in the healthcare environment. eLr has been integrated as an "Add-on" to this professional video consultation software, enabling clinicians to deliver eLr based teletherapy to remote clients entirely through a shared browser or iPad screen. Coviu is not just screen sharing - every mouse action and screen response is synchronised, which means you are able to see and talk to each other while interacting with an eLr task as if you were using the same device.
While teletherapy is an emerging method of service delivery, there is considerable evidence to support its efficacy. A recent examination of the of the use of a school-based, low-band width teletherapy method for delivering speech pathology service within a rural Australian context (Fairweather, Lincoln, & Ramsden, 2016) concluded that it was effective (as the majority of treatment goals were achieved), and both feasible and acceptable to parents and school staff. Additionally, the results of a systematic review into the efficacy of telehealth-delivered speech and language intervention for primary school-aged children (Wales, Skinner, & Hayman, 2017) concluded that, while there is a need for continuing research, the results suggest that telehealth is a promising service delivery method, especially for children living in geographically remote areas.
Toni, our speech pathologist, has been increasing her use of teletherapy as a method of service delivery over the past six months. Clients (schools and individual families) have found Coviu simple and easy to access; and the clients, who range from four to thirteen years of age, have enjoyed the sessions. Following initial face-to-face assessment and a session or two to establish rapport, these online sessions have had many advantages. Firstly, it has simplified access to therapy for some families, especially if they have other children, as there is no need for child care arrangements or travel. Second, it occurs within the child's home environment, which has meant the child is not only relaxed, but generalisation of skills is more likely because the therapy isn't within the "clinic room". A third observation is that the other parent, usually the dad, is more able to participate. Many of the sessions have occurred after school hours. The dad may have just arrived home after work and is therefore able to participate in the therapy and discuss progress.
2018 has therefore been one of further development of eLr. As a small team, we would like to thank those of you who use and provide feedback about our resources. We wish you all the best for the new year and welcome your continued suggestions about existing materials or ideas you may have about areas you would like addressed. And, if you are interested in exploring teletherapy, please contact us to arrange a free, hands-on, introduction to eLr for Coviu.
References to support use of Teletherapy for Delivery of Speech Pathology:
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.
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. We are also offering free Coviu sessions to allow clinicians to get a feel for teletherapy, and in particular the advantages of using eLr for Coviu. Please contact us for details.
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