December 2018, Volume 24
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
This car wash hires people with autism and gives them a chance to feel empowered through work.

Foundations of Communication Update

The implementation process is in full swing. The overwhelming feedback from the individual teams who attended the Summer Retreat last June is that the planning process would have been very good to go through prior to the first year of implementation. Alt+Shift initiatives have taken heed of the advice, and the Foundations of Communication teams are all pushing forward through the structured Implementation Planning Process used at the Summer Retreat. This process is going smoothly and affords the implementation sites vision to keep their eyes on the big picture while accomplishing very specific goals. Some of the things the teams have done are: identified their values and beliefs, created overarching goals for a three to five year period, identified some outcomes they would like to see in the short term, and developed and prioritized objectives that will help them achieve their outcomes. 

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Implementation Sites Update

Similarly to the Foundations of Communication sites, PODD sites are working on developing or following a structured implementation plan. There are now two PODD sites that are in their first year of implementation support and are in the beginning phases of developing their plans. Observations, implementation team meetings, and guided activities to develop long-term goals, prioritized outcomes (obtainable in one school year), and achievable (short-term) action plan items are occurring. These assist in consistent use of PODD, collaboration between and accountability among all staff members, and providing as many communicative opportunities for students as possible. These sites will join the five additional PODD sites in their second year of implementation support via Zoom Rooms to network with other PODD partners and brainstorm new implementation ideas.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR) Update

AMMR continues to spark interest and change practice across the state with many new participants engaging in the online courses offered through EduPaths. Teams from Berrien Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (ISD), and Saline Area Schools have been working directly with Alt+Shift on taking AMMR from theory to practice as they engage in ongoing implementation supports. These teams are primarily focusing on changing board policy and training staff.
Whether you are just getting started on creating accessible materials or you have recently finished training a cohort of coworkers, Alt+Shift continues to offer support in this area. The climate of accessibility in our state is improving, and you can play an important part with each step you take forward no matter how small it may seem or where you are starting from.

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction Update

A reminder that Dr. Karen Erickson and Dr. David Koppenhaver will be in Michigan again in February to present Conventional Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs.  
All sites engaged with Alt+Shift with regard to Emergent Literacy have received the initial 2-day training. The sites are now working on implementation strategies and supports to help provide better literacy instruction throughout the day. 
If you are interested in being an implementation site for the 2019-2020 school year, the application window will be open soon. If you are subscribed to this newsletter, you will be notified when the 2019-2020 site application process opens.

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey Symposium Update

Last month, Mike Marotta and Carolyn O’Hearn visited with three intermediate school districts to kick start the AT Journey. There were great discussions about AT consideration, AT in the individualized education program (IEP), capacity building, and exploration of tools.
The AT Journey will also be available online! Here, you’ll have access to videos, helpful tips, and resources for creating (and maintaining) a collaborative AT team. Find more information on the Alt+Shift website in the Assistive Technology section.

Assistive Technology (AT) Handbook for Professional Educators - Peer Review Opportunity

The AT Guidelines Task Force, a volunteer effort of AT professionals across Michigan, has drafted the first edition of an AT handbook for educators. The handbook is based on a review of AT research literature, guidelines, and current practices across the United States. The goal is to support improved access to AT for students with disabilities across the state of Michigan.
The AT Handbook is ready for review and the task force is looking for help. If you're interested in reading the handbook (some or all) and providing feedback, you may click the following link and leave your comments: AT Handbook for Peer Review. Note: you will need to log-in with a Google account to access the document. The task force thanks you for your assistance.

(Mi)^2 Update

At the Alt+Shift summer retreat this past June, implementation sites went through a strategic planning process to help develop and document an action plan for implementation at each unique site. The feedback was overwhelming: this is what sites wanted! Participants saw value in having a shared vision and plan for where this work would take them. They voiced their opinions that all sites should start with this work as they begin the training process and continuously monitor and evaluate the work throughout the year(s).
We have begun this process with all of our Foundations of Math sites now, and the feedback remains positive. We look forward to this process and watching our sites develop and hope to continue to hear these kind of comments being made:
“It was very powerful to hear all of our shared values and beliefs. Everyone was on the same page. The structure of the process was great for a large group and created a lot of buy-in. It generated energy and empowered us to make things happen for ourselves and our students.” - Lisa Gravedoni, Birchview Elementary
“I do think the process gave us achievable goals. It was interesting to have administration there, as well, to see things from their point of view and to reinforce their commitment to the process.” - Emma Gagnon, Newberry High School
“With Alt+Shift’s implementation scaffolding, I feel confident Foundations of Math will have a great impact on our math instruction and, in turn, student achievement.” -Katharine Bradd, Madison School

Educator Highlight: PODD

Name: Jennifer Osborn
School: Sanilac Intermediate School District
Role: Speech-Language Pathologist

In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) training/implementation process?
Since August 2017, Sanilac Intermediate School District (ISD) has implemented PODD into each of our center programs. All staff were provided with PODD books, which they began wearing immediately. Teachers, administrators, and ancillary staff continue to be diligent in wearing and using PODD to talk with students. Meetings and conversations have allowed staff to take ownership for how they wear the book throughout the day and what areas of the day to begin using PODD to gain and hold the students’ interests. 
What impact has the training/process had on you and those you work with?
Staff in our building have learned a new language and a new way to help their students in both expressing their wants, needs, and thoughts and understanding what is said to them through spoken language and pictures. Teachers have expressed the following:

  • “PODD has helped me embed more communication in my instruction than before training.”
  • “With PODD, students are independently coming up to teachers/staff and finding new pathways to words that they have never been shown.”
  • “PODD has enormously influenced every aspect of teaching.  I have seen rapid growth in spontaneous interaction.”
  • “PODD has made me more conscientious of words I am using during teaching.”

Describe one implementation highlight or success.
One implementation success is the number of students who are taking interest and starting to truly express themselves with PODD. Being able to tell the father of a 14-year-old student with complex communication needs (who hadn’t previously had a robust system or the opportunity to express herself) that she used PODD to say “I want to go visit my dad” is such a great feeling!
Describe one implementation challenge/barrier and how you're working on overcoming it.
The biggest implementation challenge/barrier is PODD only being used in the school environment. We have some parents who have attended a parent PODD training who have begun using it with their kids at home. They’ve reported that it has impacted their understanding of what their child wants or needs. Their children are starting to use PODD to repair communication breakdowns. When PODD is only implemented at school, and not at home, we are not seeing as much growth in the area of expression.
What are your next steps in the implementation process?
While at the 2018 Summer Retreat, the PODD team decided to focus on becoming more proficient as PODD modelers. We want our students to use PODD to communicate and believe that if we, their communication partners, are more proficient, then the students will learn (the language pathways) and will excel themselves.
How has Alt+Shift supported your district's PODD journey?
Alt+Shift has supported our district since the 2017-2018 school year with monthly meetings and observations. In June 2018, a team from the ISD attended the Alt+Shift summer retreat which was amazing in helping us determine the direction for the future of PODD in our district. This school year (2018-2019), we are supported through monthly meetings with our Alt+Shift PODD coach as well as biweekly coaching from another school district (another PODD implementation site).  All of these together have allowed us to continue the momentum we have as a district in allowing our students to find and have an independent voice.

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Enhancing Mathematics Instruction for Students With Learning Difficulties

January 29, January 30, and March 5, 2019
(also March 6 for facilitator certification ONLY)
St. Johns, MI

February 25-27, 2019
Detroit Metro Airport Mariott
Romulus, MI

Upcoming Events: Michigan

2019 Supervisors of Low Incidence Programs (SLIP) Conference

Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education
January 17-19, 2019
Crowne Plaza West
East Lansing, MI
79th Annual Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Conference
March 6-8, 2019
Amway Grand Plaza
Grand Rapids, MI
Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference
March 20-22, 2019
Detroit, MI
Michigan's - Speech - Language - Hearing Association Conference
March 21-23, 2019
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, MI
2018 MiAEYC Annual Early Childhood Conference
(Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children)
April 11-13, 2019
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place
Grand Rapids, MI

Upcoming Events: National

ATIA Conference 2019
(Assistive Technology Industry Association)
Pre-Conference Workshops - January 29-30, 2019
Conference - January 30 - February 2, 2019
Orlando, FL
Council on Exceptional Children Special Education Convention and Expo 2018
January 29, 2019 - February 2, 2019
Indianapolis, IN
Future of Education Technology
January 27-30, 2019
Orlando, FL
Using Technology to Support UDL Instruction
February 15, 2019
New York, NY
2019 Everyone Reading Conference
March 4-5, 2019
New York, NY
California State University at Northridge (CSUN) Assistive Technology Conference
March 11-15, 2019
Anaheim, CA
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

Lending Library Update

There are 115 items out on loan. 

New item:

Equabeam Balance

Help students understand equality with this self-correcting balance. It is the perfect manipulative for reinforcing the number facts and revealing the structure of arithmetic—that the facts are commutative (a+b = b+a), associative, [(a+b)+c = a+(b+c)], and distributive [a(b+c) = ab+ac]—thus aiding mental arithmetic and reducing the number of facts to be learned. The EquaBeam can be used to teach time, money, measurement, fractions, decimals, percent, and more in conjunction with other manipulatives.


TobiiDynavox Support & Training is a website that includes webinars, on-location training opportunities, eye gaze videos with practice activities, and links to youtube training videos. This is a great place to familiarize yourself with TobiiDynavox products if you are in the consideration process and if your students use TobiiDynavox devices. The on-location training opportunities also provide an option to contact the company for additional on-location training.

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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.