ELR Software Pty Ltd
eLr - What's New 2006
67 new tasks using MemoryPics and PicCards models have been added in "Semantics - Naming - Related". As with last month, the new tasks have been prompted by a clinical need. While working with a boy of about 8 years, it became apparent that he had significantly decreased expressive vocabulary. He loved memory games, but there were no memory games in our "Naming" section. So this need has been addressed.
MemoryPics is a simple game, but most children love it. When using MemoryPics, the cards appear on the screen in a very predictable order. This allows you to quickly demonstrate pairs, if you are working with a client with short attention span, or for some reason you need to know where the pairs are. To shuffle, select "Shuffle", and then "Reset" by clicking the double back arrows at the top left hand corner of the screen. Each time you shuffle, you get a new game.
This task can be used in a variety of ways. The pictures may be named and when each pair has been found, the client can be encouraged to talk about the "parts of" the item. To practice descriptive language, have the client describe more about the item - where it is kept or found, how it is used, who uses it etc. After you have finished the game, descriptive skills can be practiced by having the client give you clues, so that you can guess what they are thinking about.
PicCards is a simple model. A series of "cards" is presented on the screen. By clicking each card, the picture is revealed. This model is useful for printing pictures for the client to take away. By printing onto cardboard, they can be cut up and made into cards, which can then be used with a board game. In "Activity ToolBox - Scene Library", the game boards are presented in a format for printing, so that you can make your own games.
This month we have returned to "Phonology - Later Sounds", and added 196 new tasks using the MemoryWords model. This was prompted by a specific need I encountered while working with a girl of about 8 years who had fluency problems. I wanted a fun activity, that used words starting with long sounds, and required her to produce single words. Memory would have been perfect, but I realised that we hadn't put this model into the Phonology section. The new MemoryWords tasks use the vocabulary that is in the other word based models in each of the Phonology sections (ie WordSearch, SmileyMan and ConnectWords).
In each of the "Phonology - Later Sounds" sections there are picture based tasks and word based tasks (for the older clients). The picture based models include games (Spin Pic, MemoryPics, TicTacPic, CluePics), and models that simply present pictures to be named or described (PicCards and Slide show). The PicCards model is a useful one as it enables you to print a grid of pictures that can be cut up into cards, or given as a group of pictures for simple practice. Paper based games can be provided by printing a board game (go to "Activity Toolbox - Scene Library - game boards"), and a set of pictures that contain the target sound. If your client has a more complex phonological disorder, you can select specific vocabulary by using the PhonPic Tool in the "Activity Toolbox". The word based models are included so that clients who can read but require articulation or phonological therapy, can access activities that are a little more challenging. The ConnectWords game has been very well received by the older students. This model is like the well known "Connect 4 game", with a few differences to make it better suited for words for therapy. In all tasks the "?" at the top right hand corner provides directions on how to use the model, and also tips about how to extend and expand the activity.
28 new tasks have been added to "Sentence Processing - Multi-clause sentences". These tasks provide material for clients to practice using 5 conjunctions, "instead of", "unless", "who", "that", "which". The model used is Typing with phrases. This task requires the client to "rearrange the phrases or words" to make a sentence. However, the model enables you to present the material in a flexible manner to suit your specific goals and client skills, and also to extend the task.
The task appears on the screen as a rearranging phrases activity. The sentence is divided into phrases. A prompt may be provided, if the client has difficulty reading (click "Prompt" and the completed sentence appears). The client can then rearrange phrases as a word matching activity. Some clients like to use the prompt to read the sentence, then click the prompt away, and rearrange the phrases or words by remembering the sentence. This reinforces decoding skills. Once the client has completed the task as a "rearranging phrases", the challenged can be increased by selecting "word", and then the task is presented as a "rearranging words" activity. The task can be extended so that the understanding of "parts of a sentence" can be taught.
These tasks focus on conjunctions. Some of the tasks present short sentences with 2 clauses, and other provide practice with sentences that have more than 3 clauses. Language flexibility and the ability to use complex sentences is increased by encouraging the client to make as many different sentences as possible.
This month there are 23 new tasks in "Phonological Awareness - Blending sounds to make words". This section was introduced in July this year. These tasks were designed to help clients learn how to listen to sounds, and blend them to make a word. Some clients find this task quite a challenge. In some cases this may be due to a decreased understanding of what a sound is, or that they are unable to hold sounds in their head while they blend. It is also possible that they are unable to think of what the word could be. Often these clients respond with words that are totally unrelated to the target word, ie guessing behaviour. These tasks provide the client with pictorial support while performing the blending, thus decreasing guessing behaviour. The tasks use the MultiPic Slideshow, and require the clinician, teacher or parent to provide the sounds for the target word. The client is then encouraged to verbally respond before clicking on the picture, or indicating their choice.
There are different levels of difficulty, depending on how similar the words are and the number of choices. The number of choices ranges between 2, 3, 4, or 6 pictures. So a choice of two is easier than a choice of six. The similarity of words is either high contrast or low contrast. In the high contrast tasks, the words are completely different in the sound constellation. For example, the words "socks broom" are completely different, whereas "blocks clock" are more similar in the types of sounds within the words. Words with similar sounds would be more difficult to process, and require the client to have a higher level of skill to decide which word is the target word. They need to be more accurate in blending the sounds to arrive at the target word.
The new tasks this month complete this section. They contain words that have initial or final consonant blends, and therefore range from 3 to 5 sounds.
We have also made a change to the way the task is initially presented. Prior to this month the task loaded with the prompt "on". The prompt provides the user with a target word which has been broken into the sounds. This was done to assist the parent or helper who may be unsure of how to break the word into sounds. However, the best way to use these tasks is without a written prompt. The client should be encouraged to listen to the sounds, and blend the sounds in their head. The tasks now load without the written prompt. Click "prompt" if the helper would like guidance in knowing how to break words into sounds. Click "shuffle" if you'd like to present the same set of pictures a number of times, using different target words.
The other effort this month was to add last months new model ConnectWords to the "Game generators" in "Activity Toolbox". This game is based on the well known "Connect-Four" game, and it provides a challenging game that will appeal to a large number of clients, which means they will enjoy doing the language related activities. As with the other "Game generators" you may add you own words sets to construct a game. The easiest way is usually to "cut and paste" form some other source, such as a class word list, or passage of text from a web page for example.
As with all our tasks, we appreciate your feedback. If while using the tasks you feel there are ways to improve the section, we would like to know about it.
This month there are 449 new tasks in the "Reading and Spelling" and "Phonology Later Sounds" sections, using a new model called ConnectWords. We have had feedback from some schools indicating that more activities suitable for independent use would be desirable - so... ConnectWords was devised. This game is based on the well known "Connect-Four" game, and it provides a challenging game that will appeal to a large number of clients, which means they will enjoy doing the language related activities. The new tasks contain the same content as the existing SmileyMan tasks, so you can now provide a greater range of practice with the literacy and phonology targets.
The aim of ConnectWords is to get 4 words in a row (horizontally, vertically or diagonally), but unlike traditional Connect-Four, our game can continue until all words are used. Each player accrues points as they either get 4 words in a row, or add to their rows of 4 or more words. This means that clients cat get lots of practice reading or saying all of the words in a particular task.
There are many ways to modify the difficulty of the game (so even I was able to win!). The game can be played between 2 players, or by selecting "1" player, you can play against the computer. When playing against the computer you can select a difficulty level (low, medium or high). High is quite difficult, and if you have clients who beat the computer feel free to let them email us and boast. The size of the game can be modified to suit age or level of client. A twenty word game (5x4) is the easiest, thirty words (6x5) is medium and forty-two words (7x6) is the hardest.
As with all of the eLr activities, the value of listening to client responses and providing modeling and feedback is a strong design feature. So it is suggested that if the client plays against the computer, an extra requirement might be that they write the words that they have won. This means they will be practising reading, writing and spelling skills.
In developing this new ConnectWords game we realized that it can be helpful to be able to get lists of words used by the task (without having to actually play the game). So the Help screen has been modified to have a new section in which a plain word list for the current task is displayed. Click on the [?] button at the top-right of an eLr task and look for the tab headed "Task Content". If you wish you can copy this content to the clipboard for pasting elsewhere such as in you records or a report. Other models will also benefit from this mechanism and we'll be extending it over the next few months. So far we've done this for just the related word game models SmileyMan, WordSearch, LookThenCover and MemoryWords.
We've been working in the "Phonological Awareness" section this month. There are 28 new tasks in a new subsection called "Blending sounds to make words". The aim of this subsection is to provide materials to strengthen the client's ability to listen to sounds, and blend the sounds to work out the word. It has been my observation that there is a group of children who find this activity confusing, and they often guess at a word which may have no relationship to the sounds they are trying to blend. These tasks are designed to help reduce the "guessing" that often occurs.
The model used is MultiPic Slideshow which has also been slightly updated to provide a "shuffle" function. Pictures are presented on the screen. The client is instructed to listen to sounds, blend them, say the word, and then click the picture to check which matches the word. The clinician or helper delivers the sounds, eg /b-e-d/. Once the client responds by clicking the picture, correct answers are highlighted red, and the clinician provides further feedback.
Using this type of activity, the client is less likely to guess, and is able to gain more experience with blending sounds and achieving success. The tasks are arranged with different levels of difficulty
This section will be useful for clients who have phonological awareness difficulties and weaknesses in central auditory processing.
This month there are 9 new tasks - fewer than usual. Our month has been shortened as we will be in Western Australia for two weeks. It will be a busy couple of weeks with the Speech Pathology Australia Conference and a number of ELR workshops around the Perth and Geraldton area.
The new tasks are in a new subsection called "Parts of a Sentence", in "Sentence Processing". This section will contain a number of subsections, such as possessives, plurals, verb tense and pronouns. This month we have started on the "Pronouns" subsection.
The new model is called PickADoor. It is a simple, pictorial model which will be appropriate for younger clients. The aim of the model is to present pictures which will prompt a verbal response from the client. The type of response will depend on the goal. In the "Pronouns" subsection, the aim is to provide material for the client to practice using pronouns. The tasks start by having the client simply respond with "he/she". Subsequent tasks will encourage the client to use the pronoun in short phrases, eg "he is/ she is".
In PickADoor, a scene is displayed on the screen (eg a house, bus, circus tent etc). The scene has one or two doors and the client clicks the "Open" button to open a door, and names the picture which is revealed as the door opens. The clincian or helper reinforces correct productions, and provides modeling and repetition as appropriate.
There are various ways to modify the task. Depending on the goal of the task, the scene can be presented with one or two doors. But the clinician or helper can change the number of doors by selecting "Doors-1" or "Doors-2". This means that after you have practiced the material using the predetermined set, you are able to ad lib and present the stimulii in an increasingly random fashion. As with most pictorial eLr tasks, you can choose to have only pictures, pictures plus words, or just words.
This model will also be useful for strengthening the understanding and use of questions. The client can be encouraged to ask "who is behind the door", or respond to the clinician's question, "who is behind that door?".
This month there are 20 new tasks in "Sentence Processing - Multiclause sentences". They all use the model, Typing with phrases, and provide material to practice three conjunctions - "when", "but" and "even though". This model had new functions added a couple of months ago which increases its flexibility and enables your clients to do each task at different levels of difficulty. These tasks provides support to decode words and comprehend the meaning of sentences.
When the task loads the client is presented with a sentence that is broken into phrases. The task is to rearrange the phrases so that the sentence makes sense. If this level is too challenging, the prompt (the target sentence) can be revealed, by clicking the prompt button. The client can then complete the sentence by matching the words, or s/he can read the sentence, remove the prompt and rearrange the phrases by recalling the sentence s/he had just read. These variations in level of difficulty enable the client to attempt a challenge, but if it proves to be too difficult, a prompt is available.
A further level of difficulty may then be attempted. By clicking "word", the sentence is presented as a 'rearrange the word' activity, which is more challenging. Some clients may wish to use this mode on the first try, but for those clients with reduced skill, the rearrange word activity may be attempted after they have rearranged the phrases. As an extension to the tasks, the clients may be encouraged to rearrange the phrases or words in as many different ways as possible. This strengthens flexibility in sentence production, and increases the understanding that by changing word order, the meaning of the sentence is changed. As each new sentence is made, the client may be encouraged to write the sentence. This is especially useful if spelling skills need to be reinforced.
The model that was used last month is the SpinWord model. This model presents the activity within a game format, and so is primarily geared towards the paediatric population. In the SpinWord model, a scene is depicted on the screen with a simple game board surrounding the scene. At each turn, the client clicks the spinner button, then clicks the Quiz button and responds to the question before moving the marker around the game board. The role of the clinician or helper is to model or expand the client's response using strategies that are consistent with the goals of therapy. For example, if the goal is to improve the ability to respond with grammatically correct sentences, the clinician would model correct grammatical structures. If the goal is to increase use of specific vocabulary, modeling appropriate vocabulary or discussing alternative responses will expand the client's ability to use increasingly flexible language.
This month we have developed a new model which is more appropriate for the older paediatric and adult populations. The model is called SceneQuizer. It allows for two different presentations of the same content that is presented in the SpinWord activities. The idea of this model is to present the activities using a "catchy" display (an animated "robotic machine" button), as well as allowing for a less complicated and more bland presentation (plain forward and back buttons). In the default setting the "problem scene" is displayed on the screen, and the client clicks the robot "Go" button to get each prompt or question. The clinician or helper provides support and models strategies as outlined above. The robot machine can be switched off for the less complicated presentation of the prompts.
There are different levels of difficulty in this section.
We hope these activities are useful, and we'd love feedback about the questions and prompts that have been included so far. Also, if you have any ideas for other scenarios, pleas email us, and we will try to include them in later editions of eLr.
This month we have added a total of 29 new tasks - 10 tasks are in "Sentence Processing" - "Multi-clause sentences", and 9 tasks are in a new subsection called "Problems solving and inferencing".
The "Problem solving and Inferencing" subsection is in "Using Language". The aim of this section is to provide materials that strengthen the client's oral narrative skills and the ability to use specific vocabulary to explain complex ideas. To date there have been activities which have focused on sequencing pictures to make a short story, and other tasks which require the client to describe "what's missing" or "what's wrong" in a picture.
The "Problem solving and inferencing" section contains tasks using the SpinWord model. A game board with a scene depicting a problem situation appears on the screen. The client clicks a spinner and then clicks the "Quiz" button which displays a question relating to the scene. There are two levels of difficulty. The easiest level questions require the client to describe what is visually presented in the scene, (eg who is there, what each person is doing, what is the problem, how could they fix the problem). The more difficult level requires the client to generate alternative solutions, describe ways the problem could have been prevented, or process more complicated factors which are not presented visually (eg what if ...). These tasks are most useful if used within a small group situation, or with a clinician or helper. When used this way, the client's responses can be reinforced using techniques such as modelling and expansion. In some cases, providing a model for the client to repeat enables production of complex sentences appropriate to the goals of therapy.
A range of different goals may be targeted:
- using describing words
- producing sentences with conjunctions
- explaining emotions
- using specific language to describe problem situations, prevention of problems
- describing solutions
- generating diverse reasons (divergent thinking skills)
- using argumentative language
- generating short stories
- processing more complex information (eg 'what if' scenarios)
We will continue to produce more tasks in this section for the next edition. So any feedback would be gratefully received, and if you have other ideas for problem situations, feel free to email them to us. We will be also be reproducing this content in another (new) model which would be more appropriate for adult clients, so watch for that in the next edition as well.
The new "Multi-clause sentences" tasks in the "Sentence Processing" section target the conjunctions "before/after and until/if" and use the Typing with phrases model. This model was modified last month, and now enables you to present the sentences as a "rearrange the phrase" task, or a "rearrange the word" task. It means you are able to start with the easier level (rearranging phrases), and then present the same sentence for the client to rearrange the words. The"Reshuffle" button means you can repeat the item a number of times and encourage the client to make a number of different sentences. Discussing how the meaning changes as word order changes strengthens knowledge of sentence structure and the different roles of sentence parts.
There are a total of 31 new tasks this month, and 2 new sub sections.
There are 7 new tasks in "What's Missing", a new subsection in "Using Language - Differences". The aim of this subsection is to provide pictorial activities to encourage use of specific language. These tasks use the Picture Fixer model. A scene or picture is displayed on the screen, with a part(s) of the picture missing. The client is encouraged to identify the missing part. Depending on the goals of the session, other skills may be encouraged (eg description, explaining reasons, divergent thinking, explaining "what would happen if"). Following discussion and feedback, the client is then encouraged to click on the missing part to correct the error. For each picture there will be 5 to 7 errors, each shown by using the "Previous-Next" arrow controls.
The level of complexity can also be modified by electing to display only one error at a time (easiest), up to 4 errors at a time, or all of the errors (hardest or most complex). All models in eLr have a "Help" section - click on the question mark at the top right hand corner. So far we have done 6 tasks in this section ("girl's face","train, "man driving car", "woman flying plane", "mealtime", "horse", "bicycle" ) and we are working on more for next month's edition. Please contact us if you have any ideas about themes for these activities and we will most likely be able to provide materials to suit those needs. It's great if we can produce material that fits the goals for a range of client needs.
There are 24 new tasks in "Multi-Clause Sentences", a new subsection in "Sentence Processing". Up until now "Sentence Processing" has contained a range of activities focussing on sentences that have one clause. We have now started to develop sections which provide material to strengthen the ability to process longer and more complex sentences. This month we have focussed on sentences which contain conjunctions ("and", "or", "because", and "since"). As we continue to develop this section, a bigger range of conjunctions will be included. Currently, there are a total of 240 sentences in the 2 new subsections. All tasks use the model, Typing with phrases.
This model has been modified so that it now contains 2 levels - rearranging phrases, and rearranging words. To select the level that is appropriate for your client, you select to "chunk" the sentence as "phrase" or "word" at the top of the screen.
This model is also used extensively in other sentence processing activities ("Single Clause Active Sentences"). It provides material to strengthen the ability to rearrange phrases (and now words) to produce sentences which make sense. In many cases more than one sentence may be correct, so the clinician or helper is encouraged to provide feedback to the client as they rearrange the phrases or words in different ways to modify the meaning of each sentence.
Up until now, we used two models to achieve these goals - Typing with phrases, and Typing with words. Within the "Sentence Processing" section a duplicated set of sentences occurred using each model so that your client was able to either rearrange phrases, or rearrange words. Now that Typing with phrases achieves both levels, you will no longer need to use the Typing with words model in this section. However, we will leave the duplicated Typing with words tasks within the "Sentence Processing" section for 6 months, so that no client is inconvenienced.
This month we have continued to add material to the Semantics section. Forty-eight new tasks have been added to Associations, Antonyms. The activities use the "List matching", and "ClueWords" models.
In "List matching", the client is presented with 2 lists of words. One word is selected on the left side of the screen, and the matching word is selected on the right hand side. Correct answers are highlighted red and the two matching words appear below the list - reinforcing the correct match. The activity may be extended by having the client put the words into sentences, and explain how the words differ in meaning.
The "ClueWords" model presents the same sets of words using a different format. In this model there are two modes. In the default mode, the client is presented with a set of words on the screen. The client clicks the "Go" button, and one word appears below the set. The matching word is selected from the set of words at the top of the screen. The second mode is called the "Keyboard" and works on word retrieval and spelling skills. The client clicks the "Go" button and is presented with the clue word and is then required to type in the matching word (in this case the antonym). A range of cues may be provided. They are given the number of letters in the word. By selecting "Assist", they are able to presented with either the first, last or vowel letters (or combinations of first, last and vowel). This extension is an excellent way to consolidate skills and new learning. The client is primed with the target words in the default mode, and is then able to practice recalling and spelling the target words.
In this section, there are graded levels of difficulty. the number of words presented in each task range from 4, 6 or 8. the tasks are graded from easier more frequent words to higher level words, ie "common", "specific", and "higher level" vocabulary.
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