October 2017, Volume 10
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
"Including Me: Ben's Story"

Foundations of Communication

Alt+Shift is collaborating with two districts on implementation strategies designed to help teachers, ancillary staff, and paraprofessionals to improve their skills and knowledge for working with students with complex communication needs. We will work closely with each district co-constructing action plans and implementation supports. If you are interested in exploring a partnership with Alt+Shift, please contact:

Assistive Technology (AT) Leadership Meeting

Online registration is now open for the AT Leadership Meeting being held at Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) in St. Johns on November 27 and 28.

Who should attend? Anyone whose formal professional responsibilities include consultation or coordination related to the consideration and provision of assistive technology are invited to this event.

This meeting will consist of a co-constructed agenda, built by the attendees, and will be an opportunity to share and learn from AT professionals. More information is available via the registration form.

While there is no cost to attend, we require that you register. Please do so at your earliest convenience so we know how many people to expect. There is an option to attend virtually.

Contact Kate Fanelli with any questions.

Enhancing Mathematics Instruction for Students With Learning Difficulties

Enhancing Mathematics Instruction for Students with Learning Difficulties: Algebraic Expressions and Equations is a 3-day course designed for teams of general and special education teachers who are teaching students with disabilities in grades 4 through Algebra 1. The course uses a Math Accessibility Framework to align math content, student needs/strengths, barriers to learning, and appropriate strategies. It teaches participants to utilize the framework by looking at student work, planning accessible lessons and discussion, working with focal students, and observing video.

For sites interested in having regional facilitators, there is an option to get staff trained to offer the course regionally. Interested sites should review the Enhancing Mathematics Facilitator Application and submit by November 6.

Online registration is open through November 6. For more information, including the link to register and information on becoming a course facilitator, visit the (Mi)2 website.
Workshop dates:
  • November 14-15 - participant course and facilitator certification, Days 1-2, Okemos
  • December 4 - participant course and facilitator certification, Day 3, Okemos
  • December 5 - facilitator certification, Day 4, Okemos
Below is what previous participants have said about the impact the course has had on their practice.
General education teacher: The course opened my eyes to more accommodations for students with special needs. I am now able to help these students more.

Special education teacher: The course made me think and slow down what I was doing. Also, finding new ideas and strategies helped me with my teaching.

General education consultant: We have become more collaborative. We have found ways to overcome problems—problems like not being in the same room together, or not seeing each other during the day. We came up with alternate methods to get together to plan. We found strategies to use, some not new but new ways to use them and get better results. We also discovered that these strategies can help numerous other students not just the special education students in our classrooms.

Special education administrator: We have partnerships. We are more collaborative now. We are more proactive and less reactive. We assess all the students and know the students learning levels. The students are more engaged. Teams that have been together for four years are now our high performing teams.

Feature: Ron Sandison

Ron standing next post displaying his book.When Ron Sandison was in elementary school, the educational team identified him as a student with an “emotional impairment.” In addition, they told his parents that he might never read beyond the seventh grade level, he may not attend college, and might not participate in sports.

Ron became a cross-country and track scholarship athlete at Rochester College going on to achieve academic scholarships at Oral Roberts University where he earned his Master of Divinity while receiving highest honors. Ron is an author, public speaker, and founder of Spectrum. He currently works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry.
Alt+Shift: What would you like to tell teachers? 
Ron: One of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in the world is working with students with autism. Many have sensory issues, difficulty with social boundaries, and an inability to filter what they say. They say hurtful things not knowing how hurtful they actually are. Please continue to do your work because it becomes very rewarding when you see those students make friends and communicate properly.
Alt+Shift: Who made the biggest difference in your life? 
Ron: My mom quit her teaching job and worked very hard to find ways to get me to learn. She focused on basic skills to build confidence and then moved up to social skills and then focused on conflict resolution. My fourth grade special education teacher is still a friend of mine today on Facebook. She believed in me and promoted my art project to the Detroit Edison poster contest. I went on to win the poster contest and as a reward, I was able to meet Isiah Thomas. I really want to encourage you to believe in your students and find ways to connect with them in meaningful ways. You can make a difference in their lives like my mother and my fourth grade teacher did for me.


The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) leader blog is the official blog of ASHA. The blog encourages discussion related to specific topics in the field. It includes categories for augmentative and alternative communication, technology, autism, and many others. Check out the ASHA leader blog.

Upcoming Events: Michigan

The 35th Van Riper Lecture Series
Social Communication and Pragmatic Language:  A Developmental Perspective from Infancy through Adolescence
October 12-13, 2017  
Kalamazoo, MI

Michigan Autism Conference
October 12-13, 2017
Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites
Kalamazoo, MI

UDL-IRN Great Lakes Event: A Focus on UDL Coaching and Implementation
October 23-24, 2017
Clinton Township, MI

2017 MiAEYC Infant Toddler Conference (Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children)
October 25, 2017
Edward Hotel and Convention Center
Dearborn, MI

#TalkingAAC Conference
November 1-3, 2017
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, MI

Michigan POHI/SXI Conference 
November 2-3, 2017
Macomb Intermediate School District
Clinton Township, MI

Let’s Talk Tech to Reach All Learners
November 10, 2017
Macomb Intermediate School District
Clinton Township, MI

Lending Library Update

October 2017:
There are 23 items out on loan. 
WinSlate with Enable Eyes device
Featured item:  The WinSlate with Enable Eyes is not only a state-of-the-art speech generating device, it is built on the most powerful hardware available today. WinSlate users can seamlessly switch between using the device for speech generation and other communication methods such as email or texting. Now with Windows 8 Apps, access is easier than ever before!

For additional information regarding the WinSlate with Enable Eyes visit the Forbes AAC website.

Lending Library FAQ

I am a previous borrower. Why am I receiving a message about administrator access before I can borrow an item? 

We are asking that all current and new borrowers register for membership, and receive administrator approval, through the Alt+Shift website to ensure that we have current information for all of our members. The previous system was in use for over nine years and we did not want to transfer outdated information. Once your application has been submitted, your administrator will be sent an email requesting approval of your membership with the Alt+Shift Lending Library.  Once your administrator has filled out the approval form, your account will be active and ready for borrowing. Thank you for your patience as we transition to the new system.  Please email the Lending Library with any additional questions or concerns.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Corner

Laura Taylor has taken a position as a classroom teacher and is no longer working for Alt+Shift. She will continue to provide the PODD Corner for this newsletter, as well as technical assistance regarding PODD and will be happy to respond to your questions about PODD at Read Laura’s update below.

In my new position as a classroom teacher of students with autism, it is clearer to me the need to address the communication needs of students with communication challenges from the earliest ages. Seventy five percent of my students are considered non-verbal and as we look to the sunset of their educational careers in the next few years, it is imperative that they be able to communicate their post-school desires. At this time, they are incapable of sharing with us what their long-term desires might be. 

As you begin this school year, whether you are working with children in the early childhood setting or students in school or adult programs, take time to address communication needs as a priority. I believe in the power of PODD as a robust communication system but whatever system you choose for your students, be sure to model that system so the student learns how to use it as well.

What has been your experience this school year?

Upcoming Events: National

Closing the Gap 2017
October 18-20, 2017

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention: Focus on the Big Picture
November 9-11, 2017
Los Angeles, CA

2017 NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)
November 15-18, 2017
Atlanta, GA

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Pre-Conference and Conference 
January 30 - February 3, 2018
Orlando, FL

CEC 2018 Special Education Convention & Expo
February 7-10, 2018
Tampa, FL

Regional Assistive Technology Meetings

Michigan is divided into five Assistive Technology regions.  Most regions meet regularly to discuss issues pertaining to their profession and to further their professional learning.  To find out what region you are in, and who your Assistive Technology (AT) Contacts are for that region, visit the AT Contact List.

Region 1
October 4, 2017
November 14
December 15
January 31, 2018
March 12
April 26
June 1

Region 1A
October 3, 2017
*Contact your regional AT contacts for additional dates.

Region 2
October 3, 2017
February 22, 2018 - Remote Meeting
April 25

Region 3
No meetings scheduled at this time.

Region 4
*dates subject to change, contact your regional AT Contacts to confirm.
October 12, 2017
November 9
December 14
January 11, 2018
February 8
March 8
April 12
May 10
June 14

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.

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