March 2020

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. Changed eLr Materails
  2. eLr Screening Tools
  3. WordDriver Overview and Update
  4. Other Independent Developers
  5. Free Downloads
  6. ELR 2020 Calendar

  1. Changed eLr Materials

  2. In January this year we implemented widespread coding changes to eLr so that tasks (activities) will fit, look and respond better on any device you are using. They'll automatically resize up to make better use of the large, modern computer screens and the iPad-Pro, and resize down for the smaller tablet and phone screens. These changes apply whether you are accessing eLr directly from the internet with a web browser, or an "Offline" App on Windows or iPad/iPhone.

    Our efforts this month were concentrated on fixing a few errors amongst these changes, and extending the adjustments to the group of activities in the Directory section called "User Guides and Screening Tools". Briefly, both of these sections provide "annotated access" to specialised subsets of eLr tasks. In the case of the "User Guides" these are illustrative tasks which allow a quick overview of what's in eLr, and how it's arranged. The "Screening Tools" are groups of tasks which have been designed for use within clinical settings, and are particularly useful for progress monitoring. They are covered in more detail in the section below.

    We hope you'll enjoy this "new look" and check out the "User Guides and Screening Tools". If you have comments or come across errors, we'd appreciate hearing from you with the particular task details (eg screenshot), and the platform you're using.

  3. eLr Screening Tools

  4. There are two screening tools in eLr: Articulation and Literacy. There are located in the "User Guides & Screening Tools" section.

    The Articulation Screener

    The Articulation Screener provides material for a speech pathologist to assess a child's development of speech sounds. To assess use of speech sounds in single words, the Slide show model presents a picture on the screen. The clinician either encourages the child to name the picture, or reads a prompt which appears under the picture, to support the child's ability to name the items. For example, when viewing the picture of a feather (to assess the /th/ sound in the middle of words), the prompt is "This is on a bird. It's a ..". A total of 47 pictures, organised in themes (common objects, food theme, people theme, and animal theme), are presented to the child. At the end of each theme, the child "wins" a smiley face - they end up with four smiley faces.

    The Drag Central model is used to elicit spontaneous speech enabling assessment of speech sounds within normal conversation. This interactive model displays a scene (either a farm scene, or a boy and girl eating), and the child is encouraged to drag icons on to the scene, and talk about what and where they are placing the various icons. For example, in the farm scene, the child may say "I'm going to put the pig near the fence", or "The cow is drinking from the trough".

    As the child names pictures or produces spontaneous utterances, the instructor uses the downloadable eLr Screener Articulation Response Form to record the child's responses. Analysis of errors (percent consonants correct and percent vowels correct) may be done using the calculation provided on the response form.

    The Literacy Screener

    There are two sections within the Literacy Screener: one focuses on phonological awareness, and the other on alphabet knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge to decode (sound out and blend to read a word).

    1. Within the phonological awareness section, a range of tasks assess the ability to break words into syllables; detect and produce rhyme; name first, last, and middle sounds; and break words into sounds.
    2. The "letters/sounds" section assesses alphabet knowledge (naming letters, saying the sounds of letters and digraphs), and the ability to sound out and blend sounds to read words: short consonant-vowel-consonant words, words with consonant blends and consonant digraphs, a range of vowel digraphs and trigraphs, and multi-syllabic words. The activity to assess decoding is a "which is the real word" task: the child sounds out three words (eg, "tap, mof, wem", "scaft, blomp, plant", "soptin, carpet, crundilk") and identifies the real word.

    As with the Articulation Screener, the instructor records responses on the downloadable Phonological Awareness Response Form. While this screening tool is not normed, it is a useful screene, and may also be administered to monitor progress in between administration of standardised assessment tools. Most children enjoy the interactive nature of the computer-supported delivery, especially if delivered on an iPad.

  5. WordDriver Overview and Update

  6. WordDriver is an intervention tool designed to improve word reading skills for children with persistent word reading delays. It comprises two modules: WordDriver-1 targeting accurate decoding skills, and, more recently, WordDriver-2 which aims to teach orthographic knowledge, specifically, grapheme-phoneme knowledge.

    The intervention design is based on:
    1. Ehri's phase model of word reading development (Ehri, 2005), describing children's progression through four phases, from initial rote memory for a few whole words, to a gradual mastery of accurate decoding (sounding out and blending), and eventually to the ability to automatically recognize larger "chunks" of words as they master fluent word reading.
    2. Research supporting Share's phonological recoding theory (Kyte and Johnson, 2006; Share, 1995). Many studies have shown that accurate decoding results in efficient word reading development, and that when decoding is prevented, word reading skills are compromised.
    3. Research showing that, while most children fairly seamlessly master orthographic knowledge (allowing accurate decoding and development fluent word reading), children with language and reading impairment require interventions that provide increased intensity and repetition (Apel, Thomas-Tate, Wilson-Fowler, and Brimo, 2012).
    WordDriver-1 was developed as part of Toni Seiler's PhD research project. The website (www.worddriver.com) provides background information to the development of this intervention, and free access for use by clinicians and researchers. The research results (Seiler, Leitao, and Blosfelds, 2013; Seiler, Leitao, and Blosfelds, 2018) showed that this targeted intervention resulted in significant gains in decoding accuracy of words with 1:1 grapheme-phoneme correspondence for children with severe word reading delays (the research population were children in their 3rd year of school). The intervention activity is presented on an iPad or computer using the analogy of learning to drive a car, ie the child starts with an L-Plate (learning), progresses to a P-Plate (practising), and finally to a D-Plate (driver). Depending on an initial assessment, this progression (from L- to P- to D-Plate) starts with short items (eg 3-letters) to items with 5- and 6-letters. The intervention activity presents the child with a real or nonword; the child decodes the item; the instructor provides corrective feedback; and the child then puts real words into a "book" and nonwords into a "bin". Within the WordDriver program, progress monitoring may be done with use of the T-Plate (test). These are lists of nonwords which measure decoding accuracy from 3- to 6-letter items.
    WordDriver-2 (Seiler and Leitao, in preparation) was subsequently developed to investigate whether this targeted approach would be successful in teaching orthographic knowledge to this population. The interface is similar to WordDriver-1, but, as this program targets grapheme-phoneme knowledge of vowel and consonant digraphs, the instructor is able to select targets to match the identified needs of the student. As with WordDriver-1, progress may be monitored using T-Plates which assess decoding accuracy using nonwords. Preliminary analyses of results suggest that this intervention was successful in teaching orthographic knowledge to this population - children with severe and persistent word reading impairment.

    Anyone interested in this program is welcome to contact us for more information about WordDriver and how to access the materials for free use within existing interventions or research projects.

    1. Apel, K, Thomas-Tate, S, Wilson-Fowler, EB, and Brimo, D (2012). Acquisition of initial mental graphemic representations by children at risk for literacy development. Applied Psycholinguistics, 33, 365-391
    2. Ehri, L C (2005). Learning to read words: Theory, findings, and issues. Scientific Studies of Reading, 9(2), 167-188
    3. Kyte CS and Johnson CJ (2006) "The Role of Phonological Recoding in Orthographic Learning", Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol 93 (2)
    4. Seiler T, Leitao S, and Blosfelds M (2013) "The effectiveness of a computer-supported intervention targeting orthographic processing and phonological recoding for children with impaired word identification". Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, 15(1), 13-18
    5. Seiler, A, Leitao, S, and Blosfelds, M (2018). WordDriver-1: evaluating the efficacy of an app-supported decoding intervention for children with reading impairment. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 54(2), 189-202 https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12388
    6. Share DL (1995) "Phonological recoding and self-teaching: Sine qua non of reading acquisition". Cognition, 55, 151-218
  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 2020 Calendar

  12. ELR Software offers 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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