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), Rude Readers, Word Meanings and EIA (Enhancing Internet Access). We welcome the opportunity for feedback and questions, and will be pleased to consider including reader contributions and announcements.
This Newsletter (and previous editions) is available online at www.elr.com.au/news and an email version is sent monthly to members of our mailing list (See Subscribing/Unsubscribing).
In this issue -
In April we have arranged eLr introduction and training workshops in north Queensland between April 5th-8th, and in Brisbane on April 11th-12th. Details appear at the end of this newsletter, but feel free to email us if you have any questions. We look forward to meeting interested people and receiving feedback and suggestions.
We had a very busy week in the Albury area and in Sydney, providing eLr workshops at seven locations. It's always beneficial to meet new people who are interested in how eLr may streamline their service delivery. One of the best things that came out of these recent workshops was the feedback from current users about how they use eLr, and their suggestions on ways to improve its usability. Current subscribers told us that they find the materials are motivating for clients, and that the program simplifies the provision of home and school practice. It seems that even if they have used eLr for some time, there are tasks which they were unaware of. eLr is becoming quite a large set of resources, and with the suggestions from some of our current subscribers, we are developing ways to make it easier to find specific tasks, and to provide guidance and suggestions for activities which target specific areas.
This month 44 new tasks have been added to Phonemic Awareness. They all appear in the subsection - "Initial Consonants". In this section there are tasks which provide practice at naming initial sounds in words, identifying which two words start with the same sound, generating words which start with the same sound, and identifying which is the "odd one out". Over the past few months we have been adding a new set of tasks which aim to develop the understanding of sound letter relationships. They appear in the subsections called "Sound/letter matching", and the model is called PicTextMatch. This model displays a picture on the screen with 2, 3 or 4 letters underneath (depending on task difficulty). The client is encouraged to name the first sound, then select the letter which represents that sound. Correct responses are highlighted red. This is a fairly big subsection as it includes tasks which range from very easy to quite difficult. The hierarchy of difficultly is as follows:
- tasks with a choice of two letters that are constant, ie within the task each item presents the same choice of letters. At the easiest level, the two sounds and letters have a high contrast. This means that the sounds look and sound quite different (using different parts of the mouth, eg /p/ and /v/), and the letters are visually different.
- tasks where each item presents a different set of sounds/ letters. This means the client has to make new judgements on each item.
- tasks where there is a choice of 3, and then 4 letters.
- tasks where the choice is between sounds/ letters which are similar (eg /p/ /b/). This means the client has to make a choice between sounds that look and feel similar, and where the letters look alike.
- within the higher level, there level of difficulty progresses as above, ie first of all the task presents a constant choice, then an assorted choice, then a choice between 3 or 4 letters.
The tasks are arranged according to the type of sound, ie whether the sound is a "short" or "long" sound. Examples of short sounds are /p, t, k/, and long sounds are /m, sh, f, s, z/. The long sounds are usually easier for clients to "hear", because the sound lasts longer, so tasks with long sounds appear at the top of the list. There are also tasks that contain an assortment of long and short sounds.
The LookThenCover model has had a face lift. This model provides practice at spelling and writing words, and appears in most of the sections in Reading and Spelling. A word appear on the screen. The client then clicks a button which "covers" the word. S/he is then encouraged to say the word, write the word, then click the "Uncover" button to check the spelling. We recently had a request that it would be good the client was able to type the word directly, instead of, or as well as writing the word. It was felt that for some students it may decrease distractions if they were able to complete the task by typing the letters onto the screen. This stimulated a review of the model.
The "new improved" model now enables this function. As before a word appears on the screen, and the "Cover/Uncover" button enables the word to be hidden. The difference is that now, when the the "Cover" button is clicked to hide the word, an alphabet keyboard appears on the screen and the client clicks the letters to type the word. The letter buttons are arranged in alphabetical order, reinforcing alphabet knowledge. The client may also type the word using the standard keyboard. If the response is correct, the word is automatically uncovered, and highlighted red, so providing immediate reinforcement. This keyboarding function is optional, and may be turned off in the task by "unselecting" the keyboard checkbox control.
A specialised version of the "new improved" LookThenCover model has also been added to the Activity Toolbox, in the "Game Generators" subsection. The Activity Toolbox is an area which contains tasks that allow for individualised production of materials and activities. The specialised version of the LookThenCover model allows the registered user to put in their own sets of words. This means that the weekly spelling lists may be added, or if there are themes being used for language development, these may also be put into this model. The best way to do this is to maintain your own external list of words (eg in a MS Word document), and use the cut and paste function to put them into the model. Alternatively, it may be a good activity for some clients to type in their own lists.
A couple of months ago, we added a similar, specialised version of the WordSearch model which also allowed registered users to put in their own lists of words. In the next couple of months, we will be adding corresponding versions of SmileyMan and MemoryWords to the Activity Toolbox. These models all work very well together to strengthen reading and spelling skills.
In 18 pages, this Rude Reader sets up Sumo, who at morning play, lunch time and afternoon play loses his souvlaki to a tiger. When his teacher says "No, Tigers don't come to school", Sumo describes the features, using determiner+adj+noun structures "its long tail", "its red tongue". The drawings show the relevant bits of the tiger. Finally, the teacher says, "Tiger's don't like people who tell lies" but finds that maybe this is lie. After school, the tiger appears again and probably eats the teacher - a rude ending depending on your viewpoint. The ending is inferred. Sumo's Souvlaki is nicely scary. There is no blood and gore just souvlaki, a crying kid who actually turns out to be telling the improbable truth and a nice sense of justice. Sumo's Souvlaki uses repetition of syntactic structures to build up the suspense throughout the narrative. Knowing how the narrative ends make the ending makes even more enjoyable.
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.
- Cairns: (Ed Queensland, Cape District Office, 117-119 Sheridan St) Tue April 5th. 3.00-4.30
- Ingham: (Ingham Primary School, McIlwraith St) Wed April 6th. 3.30-5.00.
- Townsville: (Townsville Speech Pathology Services, 2/7 Fulham Road, Pimlico) Fri April 8th. 1.30-3.00
- Strathpine: (Strathpine Library, Cnr South Pine & Gympie Roads) Mon April 11th. 3.00-4.30
- Herston: (Royal Children's Hospital, Herston Rd) Tue April 12th. 10.30-12.00.
- Fig Tree Pocket: (The Glenleighden School, 33 Cubberla Street) Tue April 12th. 3.30-5.00
Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, May 29th - June 2nd, Canberra. We will have a commercial stand during the conference with eLr, Rude Readers, Word Meanings and EIA on show.
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