February 2020, Volume 38
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Corto Ian - A short film that appeals to emotions.

Assistive Technology (AT) “Lunch and Learn”

AT contacts representing various AT regions in Michigan have scheduled their first virtual lunch and learn gathering for February 6 from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.. This is an opportunity for those who were at the annual Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference and anyone else who might have new or noteworthy information they are learning to share. It will also be a time for to make connections, ask questions. and problem solve together. Join the Lunch and Learn Zoom room shortly before 11:30 a.m.

Refresh, Renew, Revisit, Michigan Assistive Technology Conference

The Michigan Department of Education, Low Incidence Outreach is hosting this one-day event on Friday, March 6, 2020.  Join them for the keynote presentation with national speaker Cary Supalo from Independence Science.  There will be several breakout presentations by Humanware, AIRA, HIMS, AT Guys, Blindfold Games/Objective Ed, and more!  Ask the experts questions about technology and check out new devices.  There will be presentations on notetakers, apps, switches, Android information, iOs information and more.  There will be vendors available throughout the event.  Lunch is included.  This event is for teachers, students, and parents of students with visual impairments.  Middle school and high school students are free with a registered adult.  Registration deadline is February 19th.
For more information, download the conference flyer, conference schedule, or visit the website.

Assistive Technology Offerings at the Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference

Therese Willkomm, known nationally and internationally as “The McGyver of AT” for her expertise in creating AT on the fly will be at the MACUL conference in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, March 11 for a two-part (four hour total) make-and-take workshop.  Interested participants should register for both sessions.
Workshop Title: Creating Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes: A Make and Take Workshop
Workshop Summary: Make and take eight multi-use assistive technology solutions that can be used in 25 ways to support students with disabilities.  In addition, participants will explore over 30 new ordinary items that can be transformed into hundreds of technology solutions for students with disabilities.
For the full workshop description of this and other Wednesday workshop offerings, or to register, visit the MACUL Workshops webpage.
Dr. Willkomm is the director of ATinNH, the New Hampshire state-wide assistive technology program with the Institute on Disability, and associate clinical professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of New Hampshire.  She has presented in 46 states, seven foreign countries, and three U.S. Territories.  She has authored 22 publications including her most recent book, Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes Book 2 - Ordinary Items, Extraordinary Solutions

Spring AT Leadership Meeting

Anyone whose professional responsibilities include consultation or coordination related to the consideration and provision of assistive technology is invited to join the Spring AT Leadership Meeting on May 7, 2020 at Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) in St. Johns, Michigan. More information about the fall meeting and what to expect at the spring meeting can be found in the letter from the planning committee.   Spring AT Leadership meeting registration is now open.

Foundations of Communication (FoC)

During January, our partnership sites participated in a statewide webinar. Our sites are working together to develop an implementation checklist for educators who want to utilize Universal Core vocabulary within the classroom. Checklists offer an opportunity to communicate knowledge clearly, identify essential elements, and address things that are often overlooked or forgotten. 

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction

Predictable chart writing is a daily emergent literacy intervention that can be differentiated for individual learners. This intervention strategy helps students build concepts of print and word identification skills, communication, spelling, and grammar. Predictable chart writing involves five steps that can be completed within one session or across multiple sessions. Within these five steps, educators are provided ample opportunities to model Universal Core vocabulary while engaging and supporting each individual’s needs. For more information regarding the steps involved in predictable chart writing, please visit the Dynamic Learning Maps - Predictable Chart Writing Online Self-Directed Module

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD)

This month, our PODD sites have the opportunity to connect together in a statewide Zoom meeting. During these meetings, two different intermediate school district (ISD) teams will share a case study or general progress being made toward autonomous communication in their counties. These bi-monthly meetings were suggested by members of PODD teams at the 2018 Alt+Shift summer retreat.  It’s a great way to build connections and allow teams to share resources that can assist with implementing PODD communication books within their programs and local districts.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

Many presentations are made and shared in schools. Students make presentations for their classrooms, teachers make presentations for their students, and staff members make presentations for professional development.
When all of those presentations are being made, accessibility can be overlooked, which can mean some people in the audience will struggle to receive all of the information they need. With a little understanding and a few changes, many presentations can be made accessible! If you are looking to train yourself or others on presentation accessibility, there are a couple of great resources available.
The W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative has put together a resource called How to Make Your Presentations Accessible to All. In there, you can find great foundational information on the whats, whys, and hows surrounding presentation accessibility. You can also find information and support for the creation of accessible presentations through our EduPaths course that focuses on PowerPoint.

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey

Join us on the AT Journey: Web Edition! We’ve restructured these stops to be more geared for educators who may be unfamiliar or have limited prior knowledge about assistive technology. The stops available address topics such as:
  • What is Assistive Technology?
  • When technology becomes assistive technology (AT).
  • How to build an AT team.
  • Steps to developing a strategic implementation plan.
Look for future stops later this spring!

(Mi)2 Update - Delta Math

Tier 2 intervention lessons for the Algebra 1 readiness standards are now available on the Tier 2 tab at Delta Math. These lessons were developed using a new instructional design following recommendations from the IES Practice Guide: Teaching Strategies for Improving Algebra Knowledge in Middle and High School Students. Specifically, recommendation 1, use solved problems to engage students in analyzing algebraic reasoning and strategies, and recommendation 2, teach students to utilize the structure of algebraic representations.
Similarities to the prior grade levels:
  • Review the learning target and set personal goals.
  • Explore the concept and practice using “We Do Together” and “You Do Together” problems.
  • Reflect on today’s learning.
  • Measure today’s learning and chart progress.
Differences from the prior grade levels:
  • “I Do” problems have been eliminated due to the time constraints of Tier 2 intervention.
  • “We Do Together” problems include worked solutions for students to analyze and co-construct justifications for each step of the solution.
  • “You Do Together” problems begin with partially completed solutions and gradually release students to complete all parts of all solutions.
If you have questions about the Delta Math Tier 2 intervention lessons for the Algebra 1 readiness standards, please contact Mike Klavon at

Lending Library Borrower Highlight

Julia Koczara
Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)
Coopersville Area Public Schools
How did you hear about the Lending Library?
I initially heard about the Lending Library at the Ottawa county monthly speech meetings. A couple of years ago a fellow Coopersville SLP had borrowed a device from the Lending Library and had a very positive experience. More recently I was reading through the Alt+Shift newsletter and was reminded about this amazing resource!
How long have you been using the library and what items have you borrowed?
In September, I was specifically looking for a device that had the Language Acquisition Motor Planning (LAMP) program on it. You had a few different devices available to try so we started with the Accent. We tried that device for a couple of months. The student was successful using the LAMP program, however the specific device was a bit heavy for him to transport easily. The ipad with LAMP was available so we are now trialing that device! 
What results have you seen from borrowing from the library?
Since the student was so successful with using LAMP, his parents took him for an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC evaluation). They recommended an ipad with LAMP and the family's insurance company approved the purchase. The Lending Library has been great with extending the use of their device until the student receives his own so he is not left without a voice!
Would you recommend the library to others?
Working as a school SLP it can be challenging working with students with complex communication needs. I would highly recommend reaching out to the Lending Library to trial a device for your student. The website is user friendly making the application process simple.  Once approved, the device was mailed directly to the school with instructions, resources, and even recommendations for data keeping. The only regret I have is not using this resource years ago!

Countdown to the Newsletter Merge: Two Months to Go

Alt+Shift publishes two newsletters each month: The Alt+Shift newsletter (which you are reading) and the Michigan’s Integrated Mathematics Initiative (Mi)2 newsletter which focuses on our math offerings. Beginning in April 2020, our two newsletters will become one as we bring (Mi)2 completely under the umbrella of Alt+Shift.

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Conventional Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs
February 17-18, 2020
Clinton County RESA
St. Johns, MI

Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC) Conference
March 4-6, 2020
Grand Rapids, MI

Alt+Shift Breakout Sessions:
  • Assistive Technology: How to Try Before You Buy With Ashley Rust
  • Delta Math: Tier 3 Recommendations Based on Research and Experience With Mike Klavon
  • From Research to Practice: Teaching Math to Students With Significant Disabilities With Kate Fanelli and Darnella Delphine
  • Strengthening Capacity for Districts and Programs to Provide High Quality Math Instruction to Students With Significant Disabilities With Kate Fanelli, Patricia Silveri, and Darnella Delphine
  • Coaching: The Missing Piece of the Implementation Puzzle With Carolyn O'Hearn and Lori Seagraves
  • The Road Less Traveled - One Team's Journey with AAC with Carolyn O'Hearn and members of the Shiawassee Regional Educational Service District (RESD) team
  • Supporting Students With Learning Difficulties in the General Education Classroom With Briana Bancroft
  • Foundations of Math: A Shift in Mathematical Thinking Can Change Mathematical Outcomes With Briana Bancroft and Mike Wolf
  • Building Team Capacity to Increase Positive Impacts for Students and Staff with Sara Pericolosi
  • Supporting Student Communication Needs in the General and Special Education Classroom With Sara Pericolosi
Michigan Transition Service Association (MTSA) Conference
March 16-18, 2020
Grand Traverse Resort
Acme, MI

Alt+Shift Breakout Sessions:
  • Assistive Technology in Transition Planning
  • Supporting Students With Complex Communication Needs in the Classroom and Beyond

Upcoming Events: Michigan

Assistive Technology Lunch and Learn (see above)
February 6, 2020
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC) Conference
March 4-6, 2020
Grand Rapids, MI

Refresh, Renew, Revisit, Michigan Assistive Technology Conference
March 6, 2020
Lansing Community College - Campus
Lansing, MI
Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference
March 11-13, 2020
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Introduction to Neurological Visual Impairment
March 13, 2020
Ann Arbor, MI

Literacy Accommodations for Students With Neurological Visual Impairment
March 13, 2020
Ann Arbor, MI

Michigan Reading Association 2020 Annual Conference
March 14-16, 2020
Detroit, Michigan

Michigan Transition Services Association Conference
March 16-18, 2020
Grand Traverse Resort, Acme, Mi
Michigan Speech Language Hearing Association Conference
March 19-21, 2020
Detroit, Michigan
2020 MiAEYC Annual Early Childhood Conference  (Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children)
March 26-28, 2020
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place
Grand Rapids, MI

19th Annual START Conference (Grand Valley State University START Project)
April 27, 2020
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, MI

Upcoming Events: National

CEC 2020 Special Education Convention & Expo
February 5-8, 2020
Portland, OR

CSUN Assistive Technology Conference
March 9-13, 2020
Anaheim Marriott
Anaheim, CA 92802
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Conference
July 8-11, 2020
Arlington, Virginia

ASHA Connect Conferences - 2020
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
July 10–12, 2020
Sheraton Dallas Hotel
Dallas, TX

Lending Library Update

There are 90 items out on loan. 

New Item:

Osmo Genius Starter Kit on iPad Air  2

Kids learn by doing, so each game uses physical action. Whether it’s arranging tangrams, zooming number tiles around, or drawing freehand, Osmo sees and reacts to a student’s movement. Five iPad Apps included: Tangram, Words, Newton, Masterpiece, and Numbers.

Two add on items in the library include:

Osmo Coding Jam where students learn to compose their own music.

Osmo Pizza Co to train addition, subtraction, and fraction skills while making pizza.


Are you looking for some literacy or leisure activities for your student(s) with complex communication needs? Check out Kim Rankin’s blog post, “A Book and a Game a Day: January 2019 Challenge". Kim, mother to 7-year-old Nathaniel, participated in this homeschooling challenge but added her own twist to incorporate words she could target on her son’s AAC device. There are several examples of books and games that can be paired together or used separately. Not only do these games and books provide opportunities for you to model core words, it encourages the connection and socialization many of our students enjoy.

Our other Newsletter

Subscribe to the (Mi)2 Newsletter for more information about Mathematics in Michigan.

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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.