August 2018, Volume 20
Subscribe to this newsletter.
View this email in your browser

In this issue:

Featured Video:
Ed Sheeran - Perfect Symphony (with Andrea Bocelli)

Alt+Shift Update

Implementation teams representing Foundations of Communication and Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) were among the 15 teams at the first ever Alt+Shift Implementation Team Summer Retreat. In addition to those teams, Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR) and Math Teams also participated in the training.

The teams spent three days learning from each other, Alt+Shift consultants, and our presenters from New York as they shared their work, received feedback, learned about the change process, and engaged in a process for strategic planning.

In their own words, participants said:

“The discussions! It was great to collaborate with peers in different places in this process. It was beneficial to connect with other groups here at the beginning and the end to continue the communication.”
“Being able to network with other teams, the suggestions for our challenges were really helpful.”
“Hearing about challenges that other districts are also having and talking about solutions I loved the time we had to hear how other areas are implementing similar practices. It allowed time to problem solve our areas of need.”
“I particularly liked the breakout sessions where we heard other school districts' plans for implementation of various Alt+Shift initiatives.” “It was fantastic to sit and talk with other groups and get different perspectives. Great hands on work to apply what we have learned and done throughout the year in the classroom and in trainings.”

Thank you to all the teams who attended and continue to push forward with Alt+Shift’s initiatives. Our collaborative process to build capacity around our state and improve student outcomes continues to grow and build momentum.

kate fanelli presenting at the summer institute

3 participants collaborating with one another

a breakout session with team members sitting together on the floor

one group showing other groups a posterboard with sticky notes on it

Partnership Highlight

Alt+Shift has partnered with seven school districts throughout Michigan to provide Emergent Literacy training and implementation support for the 2018-2019 school year. Interested districts applied in the spring, and seven were selected for one of three levels of support. All of the districts will be provided with an opportunity to attend a two-day training.

Two of the sites will engage with Alt+Shift as partners for follow-up training and implementation supports. In an effort to bring all of the other sites together to continue to collaborate and build capacity throughout the state, Alt+Shift will invite the sites to monthly “zoom” rooms. Those “zoom” rooms will feature one or both of the Michigan trainers to field questions and carry on the discussion of implementation efforts. Throughout this initiative, Alt+Shift hopes to continue to shift adult thinking and practice to improve student outcomes.

(Mi)2 Update

This month, (Mi)2 kicks off its ninth 5-day Foundations of Math and second 5-day Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities offering in St. Johns. Later this year, we will begin work in our third full implementation site as we engage with a local district to study factors that support successful implementation of Foundations of Math practices at the classroom level.

The trainings and implementation work continue to evolve through the Developmental Evaluation approach utilized by (Mi)2 and our evaluators at Loyola University Chicago. At the Alt+Shift Summer Retreat last month, (Mi)2 consultants, Loyola University evaluators, and local sites went through a process for sharing work, receiving feedback, and strategic planning that will continue to inform and strengthen implementation.

Educator Feature

Topic: How did Conventional Literacy training impact my teaching and student work?

tomas arnekrans

Tomas Arnekrans
Special Education Teacher
Mt. Pleasant Public Schools

Alt+Shift: In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the training?

Thomas: During the conventional literacy training I truly took to my heart the idea of having my students write to an audience and publish their books. We have created two books for other classrooms with a purpose.

AS: What impact has the training had on you and those you work with (e.g. teachers, students, consultants, administrators, etc.)?

TA: The process for having my students write with paper and pencil even when they are not able to. Work on building stamina and making the students accountable for their writing.

AS: Describe one implementation challenge and how you overcame it, or are working to overcome it.

TA: A student who is dependent on staff to write while the student dictates. The problem was to get the student to start writing independently (and it) was a big struggle since it was non-legible. I did just keep the instruction from the training in my mind. Build writing stamina. It did work out and goes easier these days for the student to write independently.

AS: Describe one implementation success or highlight.

TA: Students enjoyment when sharing their stories with other students and having a finished product. The class we presented to seemed truly interested in their written work.

AS: What is your next step for implementing ideas from the training?

TA: I will keep having students produce written work with an audience in mind. We created a transition book for a class that is switching schools.

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Foundations of Math

5-day training with Dr. Chris Cain
August 1-2, October 3, and November 5-6, 2018
St. Johns, MI

Foundations of Math: Teaching Students With Significant Disabilities
5-day training with Dr. Chris Cain and Kate Fanelli
August 3, October 4-5, and November 7-8, 2018
St. Johns, MI

Emergent Literacy for Students with Significant Disabilities
2-day training with Marlene Cummings and Megan Zell
September 24-25, 2018
St. Johns, MI

Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together (MRA)
1-day conference
October 22, 2018
Lansing, MI

Upcoming Events: Michigan


Michigan Reading Association 2018 Summer Literature Conference
August 1-2, 2018
Shanty Creek Resort
Bellaire, MI

6th Annual Michigan Autism Conference
October 11-12, 2018
Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites
Kalamazoo, MI

36th Annual Van Riper Lecture Series
October 25-26, 2018
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI

Michigan POHI/SXI Conference
November 8-9, 2018
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI

#TalkingAAC 2018 Conference
November 28-30, 2018
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, MI

Upcoming Events: National

National Autism Conference
August 6-9, 2018
Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center
State College, PA

International Educational Technology Conference
August 8-10, 2018
Indiana University School of Education

Closing The Gap 2018
September 26-28, 2018
Prior Lake, Minnesota

11th Annual Clinical AAC Research Conference
September 28-29, 2018
Fontbonne University
St. Louis, Missouri

2018 NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)
November 14-17, 2018
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.

Lending Library Update

There are 21 items out on loan. 

New item:

ProSlate 13D

Big and accessible, the ProSlate 13D offers the largest screen size in the ProSlate™ series. It is nearly 13 inches, while weighing only 3.6 pounds. It works best with higher density AAC apps using iOS software. When borrowing from the lending library, some of the AAC apps included on the ProSlate 13 are AACorn, LAMP Words for Life, Proloquo2Go, and TouchChat HD. The included accessories designed for all levels of accessibility make the ProSlate 13D easy to use for everyone. Users with dexterity issues will enjoy the size of the targets on the ProSlate 13.

Lending Library: Opportunity to Learn More

Do you own an old intellikeys keyboard?

Many who still have intellikeys keyboards can no longer use them on newer computers. Ablenet (who now owns IntelliTools, maker of the keyboards) has chosen to release the software for the devices under an OpenSource license. You can find help in using your keyboards again by visiting this site


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.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Corner

It’s August! Where has the summer gone? Hopefully, it’s gone exactly the way you planned. A lot of relaxation, a little “around the house” work, and a little thinking about what your work will include for the upcoming year.

Starting school is a big deal for teachers and students alike. Would you agree that starting school with a supply of communication tools and a plan for how to implement across the day would benefit both you and your students? If you’ve been trained in PODD, remember to use the principles of aided language stimulation to immerse your students in this language system. If you haven’t been trained in PODD (or any other system) it’s a good time to brush up on how you might put aided language into place for your students. You could use the information from the Project-Core website to help you get started. The supports you’ll find there will be very helpful to taking those first steps in supporting communication.

Don’t delay! The first day of school is just around the corner!

(Remember, too, that if you’ve been trained (two or three day introductory) in PODD and own the PODD CDs you may order books from Alt+Shift. Get your online PODD book order form in soon to avoid the first week of school rush!

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.