June 2018, Volume 18
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Wheelz in the Air: Hitting the Skatepark on a Wheelchair

Alt+Shift Update: Emergent Literacy for Students With Significant Disabilities

Two trainers are in the final stages of completing their certification to be instructors for Emergent Literacy for Students With Significant Disabilities. The trainers have worked extensively with Dr. Karen Erickson and Dr. David Koppenhaver to be certified and will be co-teaching the course with Dr. Erickson and Dr. Koppenhaver during the months of May and June 2018. The first Michigan offering will be in St. Johns in September and there is already a waiting list. We are excited to know that there is a great deal of interest in this course offering.  Keep an eye out for information regarding future offerings in this newsletter and in your email in-boxes.

(Mi)2 Update

The Foundations of Math playlist is now available. This series of 18 short videos is available via the Alt+Shift YouTube channel, the (Mi)2 Foundations of Math webpage and Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities webpage.

These videos provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions and highlight student success stories for both courses. They can be used to address stakeholder questions about the approach, to help determine if the courses address professional learning needs in your district, and to learn more about how to implement the approach in your setting.

  • Are you challenged by how to teach mathematics to students with disabilities?
  • Are you certain that all students can and should learn math but not quite sure how to get started?
  • Do you feel underprepared to teach mathematics to your students with disabilities or who are struggling?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, check out the playlist and consider joining us for the next round of Foundations of Math or Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities.

Please keep the following application and registration deadlines for 2018-2019 in mind:

2018-2019 Level 2 Instructor Training and Implementation Site applications are open through June 15.

Fall 2018 Foundations of Math registration and Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities registration are open through July 19.

Both 5-day trainings will be offered at Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) in St. Johns from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Foundations of Math

August 1 and 2, 2018
October 3, 2018
November 5 and 6, 2018

Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities

August 3, 2018
October 4 and 5, 2018
November 7 and 8, 2018

Educator Feature: An Interview with Nathan Johnson

Educator: Nathan Johnson
Branch County ISD
Principal/Monitor/Transition Coordinator

Alt+Shift: Which Alt+Shift Trainings have you participated in?

Nathan Johnson: Foundations of Communication

AS: In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the training?

NJ: We are in the beginning stages of implementing core vocabulary as a tier one support throughout our center-based building. We have developed an implementation team with specific goals and are creating resources to be in every classroom and throughout other areas of the school.

AS: What impact has the training had on you and those you work with?

NJ: The training had an immediate impact on several staff members as was evident through post-training discussions. Presuming competence was an eye-opening topic that has changed the mindset of several staff members. In the weeks following the training, I observed two of our students with complex communication needs progress at a greater rate as a direct result of the adults in their lives maintaining greater expectations for them.

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

NJ: With a limited amount of time remaining in the current school year, we were unable to find time to provide a day of training to all of our staff. We faced two problems. One, we did not have any professional development days left in the schedule. Two, we struggled to find a date that worked for both us and Alt+Shift. With the help of Jared Koski, we creatively developed a way to deliver the training without much disruption to a regularly scheduled school day. We decided to attempt a virtual training. This came together very nicely, allowing us to have an experience that felt "real." A part of the success was a result of us creating three identical two-hour sessions. We arranged for a group of rotating subs that allowed teachers, paraprofessionals, and other staff members to attend one of the two-hour virtual training sessions during the day. This innovative concept allowed us to move ahead with the training without having to wait until the following school year. The virtual training was a great success, and I recommend it to others.

AS: Describe one implementation success or highlight.

NJ: One success from the Foundations of Communication training has been the overall "buy-in" of our staff. I believe this is crucial when implementing any new initiative. The presentation had key elements such as presumption of competence that were instrumental in helping our staff see the importance of giving all students a voice. I am thankful for the work Alt+Shift is doing in the area of communication, and their passion is highly contagious. Another highlight worth mentioning is the recent outpouring of support from our health center in town. One of the attendees in our recent training was a contracted physical therapist from the health center. She was very impressed by the training and shared this with her staff. The next day she brought in supplies donated from the health center that we can use in creating resources for our students and staff. We are very appreciative of this support.

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

NJ: Our next step in the implementation process is to create an Augmentative and Alternative Communication team that will meet monthly to monitor progress, discuss successes and failures, and to provide support to those who may need it. We will also continue to develop resources for our students and staff over the remainder of this school year so that we are ready to be fully functioning come August.

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Introduction to PODD Communication Books
2-day training with Laura Taylor
June 27-28, 2018
St. Johns, MI

Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference
Two breakout sessions with Kate Fanelli (“Strengthening Mathematics Instruction for Students with Disabilities” and “Building Thinking Classrooms”)
July 24-26, 2018
Grand Rapids, MI

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
1-day conference
October 22, 2018
Lansing, MI

Upcoming Events: Michigan

11th Annual Life without Limits Through Assistive Technology Conference
May 10, 2018
Detroit, MI

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

2018 MCTM Conference
(Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
July 25–27, 2018
Traverse City West Senior High School
Traverse City, MI

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

Upcoming Events: National

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Conference
July 11-15, 2018
Arlington, Virginia

International Literacy Association 2018 Conference
July 20-23, 2018
Austin, Texas

ASHA Schools Connect 2018
July 20-22, 2018
Baltimore, Maryland

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

Lending Library Update

There are 63 items out on loan. 

New item:

Project Core 3D Symbols

Project Core 3D symbols are three-dimensional (3D) symbols designed to represent select core words. Each tactual symbol includes a unique raised element, the printed word, and braille. The symbol set includes 13 words Go, Like, Not, Do, Finished, Help, It, Make, More, On, Open, Turn, and Up. These words are flexible enough to use across environments/contexts to meet a variety of needs. They can be used with enough frequency across the course of the day that students with visual impairment and significant cognitive disability can learn to use them.

Lending Library: Opportunity to Learn More

For those of you using Accent devices by Prentke Romich Company (PRC), please check your devices. It has been discovered that a recent Windows 10 update disables some 800 and 1000 devices. Other models and older devices not running Windows 10 are unaffected. All users of the affected devices should immediately and until further notice disable Windows updates as follows:

In NuVoice®: (the SGD software on Accents)

  1. Tools key (top right corner)
  2. Toolbox (cog wheel near top left)
  3. MAINT MENU (2nd row, 4th column)
  4. Software Update Menu (bottom row)
  5. Under Windows Updates, press the down arrow to left of “How Updates Install” untilit reads “Never.”

Resources is a blog created by Carole Zangari and the late Robin Parker due to a shared interest in helping children with significant communication difficulties. Their mission statement identifies a determination to help students with significant communication difficulties improve their communication and literacy. The blog includes:

  • Posts focusing on an array of different Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) topics.
  • Strategy of the Month.
  • Video of the Week.
  • AAC Tool Box.
  • Contact Information.

The blog was a finalist in the “Best Educational Use of Media” category for the 2014 Edublog Awards.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Corner

The PODD training in June at Clinton County RESA comes at a great time. People who attend this training will have the option of purchasing a book to take home with them. This is the first time this opportunity is available. We wanted to make sure that people could learn all about PODD and walk away with the ability to practice immediately. I know if I don’t use it right away, I’ll forget some important detail and then it won’t go right and I’ll abandon it, whatever it is. This is what we want to avoid. Abandoning AAC usually comes from lack of skill or knowledge.

During these two days of training, you will gain knowledge and skill with PODD. After the training is over, you will be welcome to contact me (Laura Taylor) to get questions answered to keep your knowledge and skills fresh.

Make sure you share the word on this training so your coworkers and parents of your students can learn about PODD and the importance of communication.

Go to the Alt+Shift website and look under Events for the registration information. See you in St. Johns!

New Technical Assistance For Website Accessibility

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has announced new technical assistance on website accessibility.

Three webinars are scheduled for the following dates/times:

Webinar I: May 29, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar II: June 5, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar III: June 12, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT

Those wanting to register can do so by email at:

Read the full announcement on the U.S. Department of Education website.

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.

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