August 2022 - Volume 59
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In this issue:

Brian McKeever
The most decorated male Paralympian in the history of the ultra-tough Para Cross-Country

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

Trends in digital accessibility come and go over time, but in some ways organizations and vendors are more aware of the need to have accessible resources than ever before. The rise in lawsuits over the last five years or so (a more than a 350 percent increase from 2017 to 2021) has brought attention to the problem; however, leaders searching for a shield from these lawsuits have plenty of vendors vying for their business.

You may have noticed that many websites now feature an accessibility “badge” or similar plugin that promises to transform an existing website into an accessible one. On the surface, to those without disabilities, they seem to add helpful features like magnification and color contrast tweaks. While these features can be helpful, the accessibility plugin itself adds a lot of complexity to the website and can wreak havoc with what screen readers and other assistive technologies work with best - simplicity and a design that uses existing web features. This New York Times article: For Blind Internet Users, the Fix Can Be Worse Than the Flaws highlights one such story.

When reviewing your digital assets for accessibility, please keep this in mind. No tool can transform your existing website into a “perfectly” accessible one without some planning and hands-on work. In addition, the absolute best way to ensure your website and other digital materials are accessible to those with disabilities is to have them tested by individuals with disabilities who use assistive technologies to access information every day.

Assistive Technology (AT)

One way for learners to engage in their learning is through artistic expression. Earlier this summer, The Children’s Trust, a charity dedicated to supporting individuals with brain injury and neurodiversity in the UK, held an art festival that allowed students to express themselves creatively through different mediums. These artists, who required minimal to multiple accommodations, were able to create largely thanks to the creative minds of those who work for the charity.
Art can be directly related to all subjects and topics within the educational curriculum. Imagine your students painting planets or a solar system when covering space exploration, creating art with different foods while learning about nutrition or cooking, or even utilizing items they find outside after learning about nature. Watch this brief video: Accessible Art at the Children’s Trust  for examples and ideas of how to adapt utensils and position artists.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Including Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication and Comprehensive Literacy for Autonomous Communication

For many educators, August signifies that a new school year is on the horizon. Each new school year brings opportunities for professional growth and learning. Many of you may be charged with sharing information via professional development and/or providing coaching to peers around AAC. As you begin to think about how to share information, excitement, and tools with those in your organization, consider using alternative methods such as a scavenger hunt. 
Our AT/AAC specialists recently participated in the #InclusiveRoadto ISTE Wonderfully Inclusive Scavenger Hunt. The scavenger hunt allowed participants to choose tasks they were interested in, complete, and share them for "points." Not only did participants learn more about tools, resources, and inclusive education, they had fun doing it too! As you begin to think ahead toward the year, how could you utilize activities such as these to engage adult learners while increasing the excitement, learning, and growth of the staff?

Delta Math: Implementation Story

Profile picture of Dr. Ann Bingham
Dr. Ann Bingham
Niles Community Schools

When it all hits home…

Galileo once said, “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.” Over the course of my 20 years in education, I have observed that some learners can easily speak the language while others struggle to make sense of its complex signs and symbols. As a secondary mathematics teacher and district administrator, I have researched and utilized a variety of strategies and programs to empower all learners to unlock this code. However, the one program that has successfully empowered countless K-12 students to gain confidence in mathematics is Delta Math.

Throughout my career, I have led several districts in the successful implementation of Delta Math as a means to bolster Tier 2 and Tier 3 services. As a result, more students are ready to learn grade-level mathematics and beyond. Utilizing explicit instruction that is rooted in conceptual understanding, Delta Math propels learners from a concrete to an abstract understanding of essential mathematical content.
In the eight years I have worked with Delta Math, I have seen it improve outcomes for so many students in so many classrooms throughout Berrien County and beyond. However, I never thought it could have such a profound impact on my own son and his ability to speak this universal language. Sam is currently a rising fourth grader who received special education services from preschool through second grade. While he loves the language, he often has difficulty with “correct pronunciation.”
In order to improve his command of the language, Sam’s incredible 3rd grade teacher utilized Delta Math. As Sam passed out of readiness standards, he was so excited and proud of what he had accomplished. Additionally, if he did not successfully exit out of a standard his teacher would communicate the specific skill we needed to work on at home. As a parent, I truly felt empowered to support my child in a critical mathematical skill. Together, Sam and I would watch the Delta Math videos and work through the practice problems. As a result, he gained confidence in his ability to speak the language and showed growth on both his fall and winter screeners.
When I first started working with Delta Math, I saw the program’s capacity to positively impact K-12 students on their journey to master the language of logic. However, I never envisioned the true impact that it would have on my own child. As a parent, I am very grateful that my child’s teacher utilized Delta Math to support his readiness for grade level mathematics and beyond. Sam is a confident mathematician that continues to grow in his command of the language.

Foundations of Math (FoM)

Part of a partnership with Alt+Shift includes identifying a team of educators who will attend Level 2 Instructor Training to become Foundations of Math instructors for their intermediate school districts (ISDs). This training includes four days of professional learning with a goal of deepening understanding of the course content and to prepare participants to provide the FoM and/or FoM:SD course on a sustained basis to ISD and local district personnel.
We are excited to share that we have started training for a new cohort of future instructors! The Level 2 Instructor Training kicked off in Mt. Pleasant with a cohort of 15 participants from 5 different ISDa/regional educational service districts (RESDs) across the state. The training is being led by Kate Fanelli, Alt+Shift Project Coordinator, and Judy Falk, FoM Trainer and Math Coach. 
Changing one’s own instructional practices takes time. Being able to describe those new practices to others takes even longer. The Level 2 process offers instructors the time and opportunity to reflect, practice, and engage in continuous learning with a peer group. We are excited to be taking this next step in building capacity within ISDs with this great group of educators!


*Perspective is written by David Shachar-Hill. David is a Michigan State University graduate in the area of social science. Prior to that, he attended Okemos Public Schools where he received special education from 7th grade on. So far he has lived in six cities. Even though he is an adult, he still enjoys building Legos in his spare time.

I was very fortunate to be allowed the use of many resources that allowed me to compensate for many of my various disabilities. I moved to Michigan in 2002 and soon started the academic school year in East Lansing Middle School. Back then, I had many more disabilities than I have today. As well as being engaged in rigorous physical and occupational therapy after school, I was strongly encouraged by specialists at my middle school, along with ISD professionals, to utilize new technologies in order to overcome some of my multiple disabilities.
In 2022, features like voice recognition and speech-to-text are standard applications on modern smartphones and computers. But when I was being taught to use much earlier versions of this same software, they were much more complicated and specialized.
Many of these systems and programs have evolved and improved over years of ingenuity, work by software engineers, and other technology experts so that many of these programs are now mainstream components in computers and phones. The general consumer expects them to be basic components in new technology. These enormously helpful features are a part of most people's daily life and are not thought of as tools that people with serious challenges relied upon before they became completely standard.
I feel very optimistic about many of these relatively recent technologies and feel that in different ways they are contributing to help people with different challenges. Back in middle school, it was very frustrating to me at times dealing with glitchy software. However, more than 20 years later, I can see massive improvements in assistive technology that people with disabilities first set into motion. Nowadays, this technology benefits the vast majority of people, not just people with disabilities.

Upcoming Events: Michigan

Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) Mini Series: Creating Discourse in the Classroom
Free for MCTM members
●      Digital Escape Rooms - August 3, 2022
●      Number Talks - August 10, 2022
●      Presentations via Zoom
Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Online Book Study of Rough Draft Math: Revising to Learn
August 17, 2022, September 21, 2022, and October 12, 2022
10th Annual Autism Conference
October 6-7, 2022
Kalamazoo, MI
Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference
Saturday, October 22, 2022
Live - Virtual Conference
#TalkingAAC Conference
October 4-5, 2022 Online Pre-conference Workshops
November 2-3, 2022 In-Person Conference (East Lansing)
November 2-3, 2022 Limited Virtual Sessions
Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together (MRALT) Conference
Live Keynote Session - Nov. 14th @ 4pm
Asynchronous Sessions available Nov. 14 - Dec. 2, 2022
*Registration will open in August

Upcoming Events: National

Closing The Gap 2022
Pre-conference Workshops: October 17-18, 2022
Main conference: October 19-21, 2022
Minneapolis, MN
November 15-18, 2022
ASHA Convention 2022: Resilience Reinvented
November 17-19, 2022
Hybrid Virtual Conference (New Orleans, LA)
ATIA 2023 Conference
January 31-February 4, 2023
Orlando, FL

Lending Library Update

There are 44 items out on loan. 
Product photo depicting a touch screen device about the size of an iPad

Grid Pad 12

Grid Pad 12 is a dedicated AAC device designed for communication all day, every day, using any access method including eye gaze with Lumin-i, switches, touch, and other USB devices. It’s powered by Grid 3 software including Super Core, Symbol Talker, AlphaCore, WordPower, Vocabulary for Life, and Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD).


Resource: Are you familiar with the conversation or party game “Would you rather?”  Consider exploring the Would You Rather Math site. It is full of fun scenarios for students to contemplate! It could also be a fun way to engage students in talking or writing about math!

Connect to Other MDE OSE Grant Funded Initiatives

Michigan Alliance for Families

Michigan Alliance for Families (MAF)

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Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO)

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Michigan Multi-Tiered System of Support Technical Assistance Center

Michigan's Multi-Tiered System of Support Technical Assistance Center (MiMTSS TAC)

Visit the MiMTSS TAC website and look under “Announcements” for updates and events.

 Special education mediation services

Visit the SEMS website for updates and information.

Statewide Autism Resources and Training

Statewide Autism Resources and Training (START)

Subscribe to “START Connecting,” a monthly email with an article and information about START’s project activities, events, and resources.

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Alt+Shift is an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Grant Funded Initiative out of the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education.