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 -
There are no actual new tasks this month. Instead, we've revised, and simplified the Directory for "Reading & Spelling - Early Skills", and completed an update of the quality of all images used throughout eLr.
Following the construction over the last 6 month months of more than 1,000 new "Consonant sounds" activities (to complement the previous "Vowel sounds" section), we've now structured the entire "Reading & Spelling - Early Skills" to have just 5 major sections: "Systematic synthetic phonics", "Vowel sounds", "Consonant sounds", "Other useful groupings", and "Most frequent words". This should provide easy and specific selection of targets for instructors seeking material to specifically target letter-sound training for all the sounds of English.
The update of our images has also been a lengthy process. There are now over 14,000 activities in eLr and some 3,000 separate images. Just over a third of the images are "Picture Communication Symbols" (PCS as used in Boardmaker), and they were upgraded to have "cleaner lines and less ambiguity" in November 2017. We've now done a similar revision for the rest of our "in house" images. When eLr was launched almost 20 years ago, most people used "dial-up" for internet access and we were very aware of the need to minimise image complexity to improve download speed. Our new images have higher resolution and a cleaner look, and for most users with modern browsers there'll be no noticable impact on page loading times.
eLr now contains more than 5,000 specifically targeted activities in two large "Reading and Spelling" sections: "Early Skills" targets mastery of grapheme-phoneme relationships and the alphabetic code, while "Later Skills" targets multi-syllabic words, prefixes/suffixes, contractions, plurals, verb tense ending, homophones, and homographs.
Within "Reading and Spelling - Early Skills", there are materials covering two main intervention goals. The first goal is evidence-based instruction using a systematic synthetic phonics approach for those in the early phases of learning to read and spell. This approach involves teaching grapheme-phoneme relationships in a systematic scope and sequence; and then providing the student with ample opportunity to decode (sound out and blend to read words containing previously mastered sounds) and encode (break the word into sounds for spelling). Research has shown that accurate decoding allows the student to pay attention to each letter in the word which supports formation of "clear mental images" of words. Repeated, accurate decoding leads to automatic, fluent recognition of words (sight words).
A second goal within the "Early Skills" section is provision of specific intervention materials for students who have delays in orthographic learning. These students may have mastered the skill of accurate decoding (ie sounding out and blending), but they have delays in grapheme-phoneme knowledge (usually for vowel spelling patterns), thus preventing progress in their ability to decode words and expand sight word reading. Following a diagnostic assessment, the remaining sections provide material to target identified weaknesses in grapheme-phoneme knowledge. Using the models listed below, the instructor is able to locate specific targets from consonant sounds, vowel sounds (the six short vowels, five long vowels, and seven diphthong vowel sounds), as well as other useful groupings (eg 'e' rule, silent letters).
A range of models have been used to support these key skills in early reading and spelling development:
As with all eLr tasks, the role of the instructor is central to all activities, to ensure that accurate decoding and reading has occurred, and to encourage vocabulary expansion (eg by talking about the meaning, and using the word in a range of sentences).
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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