November 2019

Newsletter of ELR Software Pty Ltd

ABN 67 090 738 702
Web: https://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).

In this issue -

  1. New and eLr Materials
  2. Reading Development, Systematic Synthetic Phonics, and eLr
  3. eLr Editions
  4. Other Independent Developers
  5. Free Downloads
  6. ELR 2019 Calendar

  1. New eLr Materials

  2. Fifty-two new tasks have been added to the "Systematic synthetic phonics" section within "Reading & Spelling - Early Skills". These new tasks continue one of our current goals, which is developing tasks to teach early word reading skills using a systematic synthetic phonics approach. The tasks are organised according to the Jolly Phonics scope and sequence. Currently we have covered the first five sets of sounds - [s, a, t, p, i, n], [c/k/ck, e, h, r, m, d], [g, o, u, l, f, b], [ai, j, oa, ie, ee, or], and [z, w, ng, v, oo (book), oo (moon)]. This edition adds materials for the sixth set - [y, x, sh, ch, th (thin), th (then)].

    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 up to that level. 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 and ConnectWords provide fun activities 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.

  3. Reading Development, Systematic Synthetic Phonics, and eLr

  4. 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 "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.

    Systematic Synthetic Phonics

    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 reading - starting as soon as the learner has mastered the first few grapheme-phoneme relationships.

    1. Cunningham AE, Perry KE, Stanovich KE, & Share D L (2002) "Orthographic learning during reading: Examining the role of self-teaching". Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 82, 185-199
    2. Ehri L (2014) "Orthographic Mapping in the Acquisition of Sight Word Reading, Spelling Memory, and Vocabulary Learning", Scientific Studies of Reading
    3. Hempenstall K (2016) "Read About It: Scientific Evidence for Effective Teaching of Reading", The Centre for Independent Studies (Australia)
    4. Johnston R & Watson J (2005) "The Effects of Synthetic Phonics Teaching on Reading and Spelling Attainment", Insight 17, Scottish Education Executive. Available from: www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/education/ins17-00.asp
    5. Kyte C and Johnson C (2006) "The Role of Phonological Recoding in Orthographic Learning", Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol 93 (2)
    6. Ricketts J, Bishop D, Pimperton H, & Nation K (2011) "The Role of Self-Teaching in Learning Orthographic and Semantic Aspects of New Words", Scientific Studies of Reading, Vol 15 (1)
  5. eLr Editions

  6. It is a feature of eLr that a new edition is created every month - this one is November 2019 (and there have been over 220 editions since we began!). Typically new materials and topics are added, but existing activities may be revised as we see the need, or maybe users have requested. Behind the scenes, technical aspects as such as browser and operating system compatibility are also kept current to a level appropriate for commonly used devices.

    If you are using eLr directly from the website, all you need to do to get these new editions, is to use a computer or tablet with a reasonably recent browser, typically "Chrome", "Safari", "Firefox",Internet Explorer or "Edge". We place the updates and revisions directly on the server and they become automatically available at your next browsing session. You'll always have access to the most current edition!

    If you are using an "offline" version on a Windows computer or iPad, you'll need to update the App on your device(s). For both platforms, notification of the need for an update will begin to appear as your installation ages. The Windows version has a mechanism to update itself from the web when you approve it, and the App store also adds eLr-Offline to your list of recently available updates.

    There is no necessity to update your eLr-Offline every month, and it doesn't matter to skip a month; the most recent edition will incorporate all previous changes. However we to advise that you update as regularly as is convenient to you - and some changes are more important than others. A case in point is that this month we have fixed an error we'd made in the numbering of some activities that were recently added in the "Reading and Spelling"/"Consonant Sounds" subsection. This error could mean that if you use the eLr "Guest" process by which your clients can freely use tasks you recommend to them, there may be some discrepancies between the reference number for such tasks on yours and the clients' devices. This will all be fixed once you are both using this month's edition, and we apologise for any confusion we may have caused.

    If you have any questions about the update procedures, or comments about either the content of eLr, or its performance on a device you like to use, please contact us.

  7. Other Independent Developers

  8. 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.

  9. Free Downloads

  10. 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.

  11. ELR 2019 Calendar

  12. 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.

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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