June 2019, Volume 30
Subscribe to this newsletter.
View this email in your browser

In this issue:

Featured Video:
Bex Taylor-Klaus opens up about learning and attention issues.

Foundations of Communication Update

Four Foundations of Communication implementation teams are planning to attend the Alt+Shift Summer Retreat this month. Educators within this learning opportunity have indicated they are feeling more confident using core boards to model an alternative form of communication with students with complex communication needs. They are looking to provide aided language input in an increased number of structured activities and environments (including general education settings for some teams). The Summer Retreat will allow them to develop goals and objectives for the 2019-2020 school year to continue with implementation of communication supports with fidelity.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Update

This August, educators throughout Michigan have an opportunity to attend a two-day introductory PODD training.  PODD registration is open for in-state attendees.
Date: August 7 and 8, 2019
Location: Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), St. Johns, MI
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Presenter: Carolyn O’Hearn
Cost: $30 in-state, $150 out-of-state (registration opens June 17, 2019 for out-of-state)

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR) Update

When it comes to accessibility,  keep in mind that there are multiple variables at play, all of which contribute to the overall accessibility of something.
  • First, there is the content. This must not be confused with the delivery method (we’ll get to that in a minute.) This is the information: the story, text, math problem, picture, or image, etc.
  • Second, there is the platform, or delivery method. The platform is where the content is found and consumed by the student. This could be anything from a textbook to G Suite apps, Bookshare, podcasts, worksheets, and more.
  • Finally, there is the tool that is used for access. In special education, this is often referred to as assistive technology. Tools can be both software (screen readers, text-to-speech readers, dictation, etc.) and hardware (joysticks, mice, switches, microphones, etc.)
Each one of those components can be made more or less accessible, but true accessibility cannot happen without all three of them being accessible and coming together. Assistive technology can only go so far when either the content or the platform has been created without accessibility in mind. For most of us, we cannot change the accessibility of the platforms we use (although we can and should advocate for their accessibility). However, all of us can play a role in creating accessible content. That is where Accessible Materials Made Right comes in. You can take our free online courses at EduPaths to learn more about how you can make content accessible to all of your constituency.

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction Update

A state-wide Emergent Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs has been scheduled for next fall. Emergent Literacy Instruction registration is open for in-state attendees.
Date: October 1-2, 2019
Location: Clinton County RESA, St. Johns, MI
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Presenters: Marlene Cummings and Megan Zell
Cost: $30 in-state, $150 out-of-state (registration opens July 1, 2019 for out-of-state)

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey: Web Edition Update

Stop 2 of the virtual AT Journey is now live! This stop of the AT Journey highlights the Student, Environment, Tasks, and Tools (SETT) Framework and explores the commonalities and differences between Assistive Technology, Educational Technology, Information Technology, and Universal Design for Learning. Additional stops will be coming soon. Stay tuned!

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey Symposium Update: Educator Feature

Holly Kivoja, School Psychologist; Rhonda Colberg, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant; Sara Pericolosi, Speech Language Pathologist
Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District

Alt+Shift (AS): In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the AT Journey training/implementation process?

Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District (DIISD): Following our first live training, we updated our AT consideration, assessment, and implementation Forms. Our AT team has also grown as a direct result of our partnership with the AT Journey. We now have ISD staff embedded within our local districts who are involved in our ISD AT Leadership Team. We also added an AT section to our ISD website in an effort to ensure that all districts and parents have access to AT resources.
AS: What impact has the training/process had on you and those you work with (e.g., teachers, students, ancillary staff, administrators, parents, community mental health, etc)?

DIISD: The training has not only expanded our ISD AT team and our local teams, it has also increased our knowledge base. Specifically, we have observed new staff who have stepped into AT leadership roles as a direct result of the symposium.  We have also seen a shift in how all staff considers AT within the IEP process. 
AS: Describe one implementation highlight or success.

DIISD: We've had many success stories throughout the year as a result of the symposium. One story that stands out is that of Nicole Weber, a middle school special education teacher at Norway-Vulcan Area Schools. She has enthusiastically adopted the AT consideration process including improved data collection and documentation. Nicole has observed increased engagement and independence within her students. Within Forest Park schools, an AT team was established in which they focused on working through the process for one student. As a result, the team is moving into next school year with greater knowledge, understanding, and excitement to expand this process for all students. Overall, the AT Journey allowed for great conversation and a shift in culture from an an 'expert model' to more of a collaborative approach. It empowered those working directly with students to learn more about the consideration process as well as the AT tools that are available. 
AS: Describe one implementation challenge/barrier and how you're working on overcoming it.

DIISD: As an ISD, we support six local school districts in two counties. By nature, the distance creates communication and collaboration barriers. In an effort to eliminate these silos, we have implemented an ISD AT listserv where all staff are able to ask questions, learn about tools, etc.  To further collaboration efforts across all school districts, our ISD will host quarterly AT meetings with our local school districts in attendance during the 2019-2020 school year. 
AS: What are your next steps in the implementation process?

DIISD: As we move forward, we hope to see additional AT leaders emerge within all of our local school districts. We recognize the need for further professional development opportunities related to AT for all staff. In an effort to do so, our ISD is committed to partnering and supporting our local districts. As we wrap up the symposium, our ISD AT team along with our administration is focused on making progress toward a system-wide professional development implementation plan. 
AS: How has Alt+Shift supported your district's AT Journey?

DIISD: Alt+Shift has thoroughly supported our journey by creating coaching opportunities, webinars, and live trainings. These have allowed our staff to pause, process, and collaborate throughout the journey.  We were able to really delve into the AT consideration process as a team, which created further buy-in from a larger group. We have found it very beneficial to have an AT Implementation Plan that was monitored by Carolyn and Mike throughout the process.

(Mi)2 Update - Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together

Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together (MRALT) is a one day conference that brings math educators (including general and special education teachers, interventionists, coaches, administrators, consultants and support staff) together for a day of learning and sharing. The event is sponsored by Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Michigan Council for Exceptional Children, and Alt+Shift. 
Date: October 28, 2019
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Lansing Community College West Campus
MRALT conference registration link

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Alt+Shift Implementation Team Summer Retreat
June 18-20, 2019
Traverse City, MI
*This event is open by invitation to our current implementation teams. More information to come.
Teaching Movements for Communication
July 15-19, 2019
Wesley School in Muskegon
Alt+Shift has 25 seats and there was an application process for those seats
Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference
“Overview: Enhancing Mathematics Instruction for Students with Learning Difficulties,” pre-conference session
July 30, 2019
Eberhard Center
Grand Rapids, MI 
2-Day Introduction to PODD
August 7-8, 2019
Clinton County RESA
St. Johns, MI
Registration link to come
Emergent Literacy Instruction for Students With Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs
October 1-2, 2019
Clinton County RESA
St. Johns, MI

Upcoming Events: Michigan

PODD Alternative Access and Speech Generating Device
July 22-23, 2019
Lansing Community College West Campus
Lansing, MI
*prerequisite: Introduction to PODD Communication Books training (2 or 3 day)
Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) Conference
July 30-August 1, 2019
Eberhard Center
Grand Rapids, MI
Zones of Regulation
August 16, 2019
Holiday Inn - Muskegon Harbor
Muskegon, MI
October 14-16, 2019
Kellogg Conference Center
East Lansing, MI
*Registration not yet open
2019 Van Riper Lecture Series
October 25, 2019
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI
Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together Conference
October 28, 2019
Lansing Community College West Campus
Lansing, MI

Upcoming Events: National

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Conference
June 24-28, 2019
Toronto, Canada
ASHA Connect Conferences - 2019
July 19-21, 2019
Chicago, IL
Closing The Gap 2019
October 2-4, 2019
Prior Lake, MN
International Literacy Association 2019 Conference
October 10-13, 2019
New Orleans, LA
 12th Annual Clinical AAC Research Conference
October 17-19, 2019
Washington, DC

Lending Library Update

There are 75 items out on loan. 
Smart/Scan 32 Pro

New Item:

Smart/Scan 32 Pro

The Smart/Scan 32 Pro is a low- to mid-level communicator. It can be used as a single or double switch scanner or as a direct select device. It has multiple scanning options, scanning speeds, auditory prompts, and an option for customized scanning patterns. The amount of cells that you want to scan can be programmed to allow the device to grow with the user’s abilities.


Do you have parents of children receiving special education services who are looking for or could benefit from information, education, or support in their child’s special education journey? Michigan Alliance for Families may help! This IDEA grant-funded initiative connects parents with local parent mentors to address family’s needs, including navigating the educational system and how to be more involved with their child’s education. Services are provided statewide, and each parent mentor has first-hand experience with multiple aspects of the special education system.

Subscribe to this newsletter.
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list


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.