December 2019, Volume 36
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Actress Ali Stroker Breaks Barriers On Broadway

Foundations of Communication (FoC)

Aided language input or the practice of modeling augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) when speaking to those who are learning or are using AAC, is a critical intervention strategy. Model a variety of phrases with different intents throughout the day. As you model AAC in your classrooms, the gym, on the playground, the bus, or at home ensure that the AAC user "sees" your point. We can model all day, but if they aren't looking, they aren't able to fully benefit from the model. 

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction

When reading books with your students, follow the CAR (i.e. Comment, Ask for Participation, and Respond). After making a comment, pause and wait for five to ten or more seconds to give the students time to communicate in some way. If a student communicates in any way, respond to his or her efforts. If the student does not make a communication attempt, ask for participation by making it clear with your comments and gestures that you want him or her to communicate and interact with you (and then wait). Now you can take time to respond to all forms of communication by repeating it and adding more. 
The Shared Reading Weekly Literacy Academic Routines Planning Form, available at Project-Core can help you follow the CAR during shared reading. The form is useful to help you pre- plan comments for the books you'll be using during shared reading. 

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD)

Susan Egelkraut
Speech Language Pathologist
Barry Intermediate School District (ISD)

In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from your training/implementation process?

I have worked with all of our ISD classroom staff to use PODD as a communication system. All students who can benefit from a PODD book have their own book, and there are PODD books in each classroom for staff members to use. The implementation process, including support from Alt+Shift, has supported our success in always keeping our focus on our implementation goals.
What impact has the training/process had on you and those you work with? (e.g., teachers, paraprofessionals, students, ancillary staff, administrators, parents, Community Mental Health (CMH), etc.)

Our administration expresses the need for communication for all students as a priority. Our teachers and paraprofessionals regularly have a student success story to share with me when I come into their classrooms or send a message about the moment! Some students are initiating communication with a PODD book consistently and many are communicating with their PODD books during class. The paraprofessionals make vocabulary suggestions for students' PODD books most often. When I am asked how the district is doing with PODD implementation, I always say confidently that we are continually making progress.
Describe one implementation highlight or success.

One particular student success occurred a few weeks ago. I received the message "Student just used the ‘more’ symbol on my PODD book" from a teacher! This student is one of our more challenging students who does not respond very often. My response was "that made my day!"
Describe one implementation challenge/barrier and how you're working to overcome it.

One challenge has been supporting new staff members. I am able to provide one day training, but this year the availability of substitutes has been especially challenging.
What are your next steps in the implementation process?

Our goals this school year are focused on tracking modeling and completing short video tape  recording. We are also continuing to have PODD team meetings to focus our implementation goals.
How has Alt+Shift supported your district's journey?

The support of Alt Shift has been a critical part of our success. The continued support from Carolyn O' Hearn to implement our plan has kept the plan on track and moving forward. The Alt+Shift Summer Institute review and planning have also been an important part of the success.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

While many people do not caption videos, many who do have come to rely on Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) to create captions. While the technology to do this has certainly come a long way, we still cannot rely solely on ASR to ensure accurate and complete captions in our videos. 3Play Media’s recently published Annual State of Automatic Speech Recognition report helps us see why this is true.
Some notable findings include:

  • Some of the best speech recognition technologies in use today are capable of just under 91 perfect accuracy when measuring the word error rate. While that figure is high compared to past years, it still means that, even with the best technology available, almost 10 percent of words are being inaccurately transcribed.
  • ASR has no solution for common formatting errors like punctuation, grammar, labelling multiple speakers, and transcribing relevant sounds that are not speech. Consider the difference between “Eat, Billy!” and “Eat Billy!"

Does this mean you shouldn’t use any ASR tools such as those offered by Google (YouTube)? Absolutely not. These tools are immensely helpful. However, there must always be human involvement when it comes to captioning our audio and video files. 3Play states it best when they write, “While technology continues to improve, the results show that there is still a significant leap to real accuracy from even the best speech recognition engines, making humans a crucial piece of creating accurate captions.”

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey

This month, we welcome Mike Marotta back to Michigan! He’s heading to the UP to join Marquette Alger Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) and two of their local districts on their AT Journey. Topics covered will include their AT consideration process, eliminating silos by sharing information, and developing a strategic implementation plan to help teams get the appropriate assistive technology tools into the hands of students in an efficient and effective manner. We look forward to partnering with them this year.

(Mi)^2 Update - Delta Math: Implementation Story

Cara Hart
Teacher Consultant/Instructional Coach
Bay-Arenac ISD

Last year I was placed to be the Teacher Consultant in the Bangor Township School District to implement and support struggling students in the area of math. The district wanted me to pilot Delta Math with a small group of students receiving special education services. The students had a 48-minute intervention block during which I was able to pull students in small groups and run the Delta Math program with them.

My goal was to pre-assess and implement Delta Math in the areas they needed. The screener process for this is quick and simple and can be done all electronically. The best part about utilizing the online assessments is all the results are reported immediately. I used the fall, winter, and spring readiness to identify each student’s needs and to keep track of their progress.

I would start out with a whole group lesson for each readiness standard and would release students after they met the learning goal of a readiness standard three times. The students who needed more intensive interventions would continue to see me until they were able to master that skill. The students really like the progress monitoring and they were able to graph their progress on the growth chart and see how well they were doing. 

The next steps we are taking this year is expanding the Delta Math program to more students.  To do this, we have included the math teachers and special education teachers to teach the program. This has been an intensive process working on assessing and placing students accordingly due to the fact that we have been trying to work this process through after scheduling has been done and students were in other classes. Overall, once the program is up and running, I think it will be a great success and support for everyone!

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Conventional Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs
February 17-18, 2020
Clinton County RESA
St. Johns, MI

Upcoming Events: Michigan

Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC) Conference
March 4-6, 2020
Grand Rapids, MI
Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference
March 11-13, 2020
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Michigan Speech Language Hearing Association Conference
March 19-21, 2020
Detroit, Michigan
2020 MiAEYC Annual Early Childhood Conference  (Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children)
March 26-28, 2020
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place
Grand Rapids, MI

Upcoming Events: National

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Conference
January 28-February 1, 2020
Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center
Orlando, FL
CEC 2020 Special Education Convention & Expo
February 5-8, 2020
Portland, OR
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Conference
July 8-11, 2020
Arlington, Virginia

Lending Library Update

There are 99 items out on loan. 

New Item:

Tiggly 3-in-1 learner kit

Tiggly 3-in-1 Learner Kit is a set of interactive toys (shapes, letters, and number lines) and apps for children aged 2-8. It is designed to bring shapes, letters, and words to life. It's compatible with both Apple and Android tablets and doesn't require Wi-fi, batteries, or Bluetooth. Students play games based around shapes, letters, and numbers that focus on improving their ability to recognize shapes; build words and phrases; and help their visual, spatial, and abstract thinking skills.


Looking for additional resources for supporting AAC users? Check out AssistiveWare’s Core Word Classroom! Here, you will find core word planners, strategies and resources, and one-page reference sheets for both home and school use. AssistiveWare utilizes Symbolstix symbols, which are the same as Unique Learning System (ULS) and News2You’s instructional supports. For those of you with students using the AAC program Proloquo2Go, the Core Word Classroom also has free printable core word posters that correlate with Proloquo2Go’s Crescendo vocabulary.

Our other Newsletter

Subscribe to the (Mi)2 Newsletter for more information about Mathematics in Michigan.

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Alt+Shift, encompassing Michigan's Integrated Mathematics Initiative, is an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Grant Funded Initiative out of the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education.