August 2019, Volume 32
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Jack Welch - What Autism Means to Me

Foundations of Communication (FoC) Update

The Foundations of Communication sites have completed their implementation plans  for the upcoming school year. Many of the plans focus on expanding the focus and impact of core vocabulary into the early childhood and/or older populations. In addition to expanding to new populations of students, teams also utilized their implementation plans to gain further “buy in” from staff and families. Alt+Shift will continue to provide support to these sites during the 2019-2020 school year in an effort to further support growth in the areas of aided language input, core vocabulary, and all-day communication.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Update

Gayle Porter, developer of PODD, visited Michigan last month with her colleague, Claire Cotter. Gayle and Claire provided a five-day intensive workshop entitled “Teaching Movements for Communication,” which provided teams of educators with an in-depth opportunity to explore sensory and motor differences associated with students with complex physical and communication needs (e.g, cerebral palsy, Rett Syndrome) and severe sensory processing challenges.
After the five-day workshop, Gayle provided a two-day training on PODD Alternative Access and Speech Generating Devices. Most educators know PODD as low-tech communication books; however, PODD is available on high-tech devices (e.g., iPad) and for individuals with complex physical bodies. Educators learned how to select, customize, and provide aided language input for students who may benefit from partner-assisted scanning, eye gaze, coded, and combination access methods.
We’re excited to see how Michigan educators will apply this information in their own way to promote autonomous communication for their students with complex communication needs!

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR) Update

It’s time to put to bed the myth that online accessibility doesn’t matter because it only impacts a few people.
One common misconception is that making a website accessible doesn’t make sense because it only impacts a tiny population of people who are not part of the community of people who use their website.
Did you know there are more people online in the United States who are deaf or hard of hearing than the population of Spain? Or that there are more internet users in the United States who are blind or low vision than the population of Canada? This data is from the World Bank (WDI, 2008) and (NHI Survey, 2008).
The level of engagement with the AMMR courses on EduPaths (closing in on 500 unique participants) is a good indicator that a growing number of people understand the need for accessible content on websites.
If you would like to learn more about how you can create accessible online materials for your website, take one of the free online AMMR courses at EduPaths.

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction Update

The early part of the summer was spent reviewing Emergent and Conventional Literacy applications and following up with sites. We will partner with seven intermediate school districts (ISDs) during 2019-2020 to implement emergent and conventional literacy practices in center-based and local district classrooms. We will also offer a state-wide, two-day training for general audiences. Emergent Literacy is at a waitlist and will be held at Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) in October. Conventional Literacy will be held at Clinton County RESA in February. We will share more information on registration as it becomes available.

Emergent Literacy: Educator Feature

susan erickson
Susan E Erickson
MoCI Instructor
Cheboygan-Otsego-Presque Isle Educational Service District  

Alt+Shift (AS): In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the training?
Susan Erickson (SE): The Emergent Literacy elements, shared reading, predictable chart writing, alphabet, independent reading, and independent writing are all being implemented with varying emphasis and fidelity in my teaching. My paraprofessionals and I have worked very diligently to implement all elements daily. However, I believe we have much more to do to improve within each element as well. For instance, shared reading is working well, but I'd still like to see more opportunities for students to respond, comment, and share their ideas. During independent writing, there are still some interventions (i.e. letter stamps, iPads keyboard, partner assisted scanning methods) that need to be explored more fully to find a strategy that works for each student in order for each student to be more successful.
AS: What impact has the training had on you and those you work with (e.g. teachers, students, consultants, administrators, etc.)?
SE: Several of my students have made great gains in their literacy skills throughout this school year, which has included improvements in communication and reading skills. My team of therapists (occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and physical therapists) have all worked to create more literacy connections during typical teaching and learning routines in therapy. My fellow teachers and I are still working on implementing all the emergent literacy elements with varying stages of implementation. Some of the teachers are in need of conventional literacy and will participate in that training in August. Our two supervisory administrators have been integral during the emergent literacy training and implementation. Our emergent literacy leadership team anticipates working closely with teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators (our classroom teams) throughout the 2019-2020 school year to create more opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills.
AS: Describe one implementation challenge and how you overcame it or are working to overcome it.
SE: One challenge that I'm working on in my classroom is how to provide more opportunities for interaction with print during shared and independent reading. I would like to do this while simultaneously providing more opportunities for students to communicate about what they notice and think about their print interactions. We're working to overcome this challenge by providing core vocabulary in varying forms throughout the classroom as well as striving to model its use with fidelity. We've demonstrated much improvement and have developed some new habits for communicating with the core vocabulary but we could always do more!
AS: Describe one implementation success or highlight.
SE: One of our students is naming all letters of the alphabet, knows many sound/letter connections, has the concept of words, and is reading 80 percent of the core vocabulary words without the picture symbol. While this is particularly fun to see, we also have had a student make gains just within the communication aspects of literacy by pointing to symbols to communicate a desire for activities or items. This has been a huge gain for this student and a great increase in his independence. 
AS: What is your next step for expanding the impact of your work/training?
SE: During the Alt+Shift retreat this past June, our emergent literacy leadership team developed a plan to continue our implementation of literacy interventions by renewing our commitment to the work by entering the second phase of emergent literacy development and training for the first phase of our conventional literacy. We're planning to review the elements in depth to increase our teachers and paraprofessionals’ skills base and develop strategies to share our work in order to keep the energy for the work alive.
AS: How has Alt+Shift supported your district’s implementation of emergent literacy? 
SE: Our literacy consultant, Megan Zell, has been instrumental in helping us move our literacy work forward. She's coached us through the initial phase of training and implementation and helped us to develop our strategic plan. The resources and links that are available through the wiki page are critical to building knowledge and expanding skills as our strategic plan progresses. Attending the summer retreat was very helpful to our team and is moving our work forward with renewed energy.

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey Symposium Update

Both of our AT Journey teams have completed their implementation plans for the 2019-2020 school year. Our teams are focused on building capacity and strengthening the confidence of educators when considering AT and recognizing students who could benefit from assistive technology tools and services at the ISD and in some of their local districts. Alt+Shift will continue to support these teams by providing coaching during implementation meetings to ISD level staff who will support staff in local districts.

(Mi)^2 Update - Delta Math

Three different forms of additional Guided Practice are now available for each readiness standard to help students strengthen and maintain conceptual understanding using visual representations of mathematical ideas. These free resources are intended to be used as distributed, or spaced, practice between readiness screenings. They can also extend a targeted intervention with students who came close to meeting the learning goal on their Growth Chart three times.
Each practice resource is designed to last 5 to 15 minutes and begins with the teacher/interventionist leading a “We Do Together” problem. The middle of the session provides time for students to reflect and ask questions about the learning target. The session ends with students taking turns leading to solve “You Do Together” problems.
The Delta Math Additional Guided Practice resources are aligned to the Tier 2 Readiness (zip file) and Tier 3 Standards (zip file). 
If you have questions about the Delta Math RtI Program, please contact Mike Klavon at

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

2-Day Introduction to PODD
August 7-8, 2019
Clinton County RESA
St. Johns, MI
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

Zones of Regulation
August 16, 2019
Holiday Inn - Muskegon Harbor
Muskegon, MI
7th Annual Autism Conference
October 10-11, 2019
Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites
Kalamazoo, MI
(Oct 14: Pre-conference registration)
(October 15-16: Conference Registration)
October 14-16, 2019
Kellogg Conference Center
East Lansing, MI
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
Assistive Technology Playdate
November 15, 2019
Battle Creek Math and Science Center
Battle Creek, MI

Upcoming Events: National

National Autism Conference
August 5-8, 2019
Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, State College, PA
International Educational Technology Conference
August 7-8, 2019
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
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
National Association for the Education of Young Children
November 20-23, 2019
Music City Center, Nashville, TN
American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Annual Convention
November 21-23, 2019
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL
Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Conference
January 28 - February 1, 2020
Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center, Orlando, FL

Lending Library Update

There are 22 items out on loan. 
Tilt Switch

New Item:

The Tilt Switch is perfect for users who aren’t able to activate a switch manually, this gravity-sensitive switch has a Velcro strap that attaches to a head, arm, or leg and is activated when the user tilts that body part.
Extremely versatile, this switch can be adjusted for tilt sensitivity and is also a great tool for posture training.



Everyone, including individuals with complex communication needs, has the right to participate in and affect their daily routine and the environment around them through communicative interactions. A number of specific communication rights are summarized by the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities (NJC) in the Communication Bill of Rights (2016). The bill was initially released with 12 statements in 1992 and updated to include 15 statements in 2016. By understanding and incorporating these rights in your practice, you help advocate for communication services and supports, promote inclusive opportunities, and encourage broader community acceptance.

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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.