February 2021 - Volume 50
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In this issue:

The Journalist Ade Adepitan and 'The Travel Show' cameras visited The Sustainable City in Dubai

Call for Partnership Applications and Professional Learning Opportunity (PLO) Previews

The Intermediate School District (ISD) Partnership Site Application for the 2021-2022 school year opened on January 25, 2021. PLOs include:
  • Assistive Technology Journey
  • Foundations of Math
  • Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities
  • Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication (New PLO: See below for details)
Ready to explore a partnership? To learn more about the PLOs and how we partner with ISDs, watch the on-demand preview presentations on our Alt+Shift YouTube channel available on February 5, 2021.

Have questions? Thanks for your interest! Email us at

Welcome Jennifer Magoulick!


Jennifer Magoulick comes to us from a ten year career teaching special education mathematics at the middle school level in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She will be our new Math Accessibility Specialist.
Jennifer’s background in both math and special education, along with her experience working with students from with a variety of backgrounds, will provide a strong foundation for her efforts as she supports our Foundations of Math and Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities sites and works to improve math outcomes for students with disabilities across the state.
We are excited to have Jennifer join our team! Want to reach out to Jennifer? Email her at

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

Those who follow web-related accessibility will be interested to know that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released the first working draft of WCAG 3.0 for public comment. WCAG 2.0 continues to remain the standard required by the 2018 update to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. However, it is helpful to see what changes may be coming down the pipeline, not to mention it being a good idea to keep up with best accessibility practices even when they exceed the requirements of the law.
There have been so many changes to the guidelines that WCAG 3.0 is considered an alternative, not just a superseding, set of guidelines. The “W” in WCAG now stands for "W3C" rather than “Web” to reflect a broader scope meant to cover a variety of formats (web, PDF, ePub, applications, mobile apps, etc.) on rapidly evolving technologies (computers, mobile devices, virtual and augmented reality, voice input, etc.). The W3C states that “The hope is that WCAG 3.0 will make it significantly easier for both beginners and experts to create accessible digital products that support the needs of people with disabilities.”
In the new format, each guideline will include outcomes, explain critical errors, and provide a new rating scale that is designed to be more flexible in determining levels of accessibility. A, AA, and AAA designations have been replaced with new conformance levels (Bronze, Silver, and Gold) that are based on how you score within the guidelines as well as usability for individuals with disabilities.
Although the document is a draft and a work in progress, the W3C is looking for feedback. Explore the working draft of WCAG 3.0 and provide any feedback that would make the final document more helpful and user friendly to content developers like yourselves!

Assistive Technology (AT)

Assistive technology solutions can be costly and time intensive when insurance or third party funders are involved. Makers Making Change offers a platform for makers (for example, engineers, hobbyists, students, corporations) to volunteer their time to make an access solution from their project library. Individuals with disabilities, their family members, or disability professionals (including educators) can request a project that can help address a person’s barriers. Their platform enables anyone to publish and share open-source AT designs. A forum promotes a sense of community where people can share access challenges and solutions and review existing projects.
While it is based out of Canada, there are approximately 20 U.S, chapters, including one here in Michigan! Learn more about Makers Making Change by checking out their latest post, “Learn How Our Community Works.”

Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication

On January 12, more than 30 educators from 10 Alt+Shift partnership sites met to network with others who are engaged in providing comprehensive literacy to students with significant disabilities. Participants were able to share resources, student successes, challenges, and potential solutions to barriers. Alt+Shift continues to focus on creating a self-sustaining literacy community within the state. If you'd like to learn more or participate in upcoming statewide meetings, please contact

Delta Math

The winter screening cycle continues through February 28, 2021. Many schools screen up in February to measure each student’s readiness for the next grade level. Screening up data is used to identify students who may need additional tier 1 support. Then, screening up again in May can measure the impact of tier 1 intervention and guide planning for students who may need additional support during the summer and/or fall.
This year, not all students may have had the opportunity to learn all of the readiness standards for the next grade level before screening up in February. When this is the case, please use caution while viewing the data. Begin by celebrating when students met the benchmarks for each readiness standard. Then, develop a plan to provide opportunities for students to build conceptual understanding and support the development of procedural fluency for students who did not meet the benchmarks for each readiness standard.
If you have questions about the Delta Math RtI program, please visit the Get to know Delta Math page on the implementation support website or contact Mike Klavon at

Foundations of Math (FoM and FoM:SD)

One big question on people’s minds as they begin to implement the Foundations of Math approach is “How do I get started?” This is an even more common question when implementation begins during a pandemic.
The answer to this question varies based on each person’s comfort level with math, previous experience with approaches taught in the course, and student needs. Wherever or however you get started - good job! The hardest part of many efforts is getting started.
To help you identify a starting point, Alt+Shift has created two “Getting Started” guides, one for each course. Implementation, and changing practice in general, is not a step-by-step process nor is it one size fits all. These are guidelines to give you an idea of how you might get started.  The path will be a meandering one. 

If you need any assistance throughout the process, please contact:


Educator Feature

Name: Jodi Fessenden
School: Montcalm ISD
Position/Role: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) teacher (1, 2, and 4th grade)

In what ways has the literacy training changed the way that you approach and teach literacy in your classroom?
The literacy training we received has completely changed the way we teach literacy in our classroom! We now incorporate so many strategies for word study, guided reading, writing, and independent reading. The training has helped guide us as our curriculum and it takes the guesswork out of how to teach reading to my students with ASD. 
How has the training impacted your students?
My students are engaged in multiple daily lessons for up to 20-30 minutes at a time. They have grown as readers in so many ways! When we started implementing the strategies, my students were barely able to sit and read independently for more than 5 minutes. When we would write, they would spend 20 minutes to get one word on paper or the computer. They did not sit for reading instruction of any kind. Now my students engage in 20 minutes of independent reading and they are writing full sentences, sometimes full stories, and they sit, attend, and participate in guided reading and word study lessons. I love watching them use the word wall to assist with writing. Their growth in all areas has been so rewarding to watch!
What would you tell others who are thinking about joining an Alt+Shift partnership?
I would tell them that it is exactly that, a partnership! You don't just get the training. You get abundant resources, a community of people who understand what difficulties you may encounter with your students, and a coaching atmosphere (absolutley no judgement). The support is there when and how you want it. I have even felt support teaching my students virtually!

Upcoming Events: Michigan

Michigan Math Educators (MichME)
Various - check the registration page for information
Virtual meetings

#TalkingAAC: Online Edition
February 22, 2021
Live and recorded virtual conference

Designing for Choice that Empowers All Learners
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)-based Professional Learning hosted by Region IV AT Consortium
February 23, 2021
Virtual Webinar and Asynchronous Module (February 16, 2021)
Designing Flexible Learning Environments
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)-based Professional Learning hosted by Region IV AT Consortium
February 23, 2021
Virtual Webinar and Asynchronous Module (March 16, 2021)

Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC) Conference
March 3-5, 2021
Grand Rapids, MI

Michigan Reading Association 2021 Annual Conference
March 12-14, 2021
Virtual Conference
Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference
March 17-20, 2021
Virtual conference
Michigan Speech Language Hearing Association Conference
March 18-20, 2021
Virtual conference
20th Annual START Conference
(Grand Valley State University START Project)
May 3, 2021
Virtual Conference
May 7, 2021
Virtual conference

Upcoming Events: National

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2021: AT Connected Home
Available for access through June 30, 2021
Virtual conference package includes: exhibitor activities, sponsored ATIA member education content, and select social networking activities

National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) Leadership Seminars
February 8, 2021
Virtual seminar

Council for Exceptional Children 2021 Convention and Expo
March 8-13, 2021
Online event

National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) Bold Leadership Summit
April 25-27, 2021
St. Louis, MO

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Schools Connect
July 14-26, 2021
Virtual Conference

NCSM Annual Conference
September 20-22, 2021
Atlanta, GA

Lending Library Update

There are 63 items out on loan. 

The Alt+Shift library is open.
Please return items/devices to the Alt+Shift office at:
1037 S U.S. Highway 27
St. Johns, MI 48879


New Item:

Revibe Connect is a watch that helps kids pay attention and stay on-task. The watch uses vibration reminders and text cues to refocus users. The connecting app tracks focus, attention, and exercise.

Lending Library FAQ

Can a device be sent home with a student?

Yes! Alt+Shift encourages devices being used within the home especially in the current remote learning situation. As a reminder, districts are required to approve Alt+Shift loans according to the Alt+Shift Loan Agreement. If the school, district, or ISD has their own policies about borrowing equipment (in addition to the Alt+Shift Loan Agreement), they will also need to review those with the student’s family.


Virtual manipulatives have been a go-to resource during remote learning. They can also be used to demonstrate math concepts during live in-person instruction and can serve as either educational technology or assistive technology for students who work better with digital materials. Many manipulatives can be found via a quick Google search. Looking for a place to start? The Math Learning Center and Didax both offer free collections of virtual manipulatives.

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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.