July 2019, Volume 31
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In this issue:

Lost voice guy
Featured Video:
Lost Voice Guy - America's Got Talent - The Champions - Intro

Welcome Sara!

Sara Pericolosi has joined Alt+Shift as our new Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Specialist. Sara comes to us from the Dickinson Iron Intermediate School District (ISD) where she worked with students aged birth to 26 as a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) for 11 years. She also served on the Assistive Technology team for the past 5 years.
Sara has experience implementing practices from Assistive Technology Journey, Conventional Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs, Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD), and Foundations of Communication both as an SLP and as part of an ISD team that supports implementation of these and other trainings throughout Dickinson and Iron counties. Sara will attend Emergent Literacy training, as well as Camp Alec (a literacy camp that serves as both a full summer camp experience for students as well as advanced training in literacy practices with Drs. Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver), this summer and fall.
Sara lives in her hometown of Iron Mountain with her husband, son, daughter, and two golden retrievers. She enjoys traveling and camping and just finished her first half marathon in May.
Welcome Sara!

Highlights from our 2019 Implementation Team Summer Retreat

The major update on all of our professional learning opportunities is the work our partnership teams did at this year’s summer retreat held at the Hagerty Center in Traverse City on June 18-20.
Nineteen teams attended the retreat this year, including nine returning teams and ten new teams. People came from the upper peninsula, the upper lower peninsula, and lower lower peninsula to reflect on their implementation plans from the past school year, analyze their current realities, and plan for the coming school year.
Based on feedback from the event, the teams

  • Created and/or adjusted plans for next year.
  • Reflected and engaged in much needed work time with their teams.
  • Regained momentum for the work.
When asked what new information teams learned that was particularly helpful, attendees mentioned:
  • A framework for addressing change at the individual level called the ADKAR that was introduced on Day 2 of the retreat.
  • New information from colleagues both on their teams and teams from around the state.
  • The pace of implementation at other sites and how that compared to their own experiences.
  • Better understanding of their own progress throughout the past year.
  • How to organize thoughts and engage in implementation planning.
When thinking ahead to next year, teams are particularly excited about:
  • Increasing staff knowledge and capacity to implement new practices.
  • Expanding efforts to new groups of students.
  • Expanding efforts to new buildings.
  • Energizing staff around a mutual goal.
  • Training new staff.
  • Working together as a team to further goal-setting and execute plans.
  • Having a specific plan to “hit the ground running” within the fall.


(Mi)2 Update - Implementation Story

 Heather Gray
 Wines Elementary School
 Ann Arbor Public Schools

Heather teaches in a special education, self-contained classroom. She attended Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities this past school year. The following are her reflections on the course, the experiences of implementation, and what it has offered her and her students.

The training challenged me to see the importance of math for my students. We now spend an hour daily on math. We have a half-hour math meeting that is focused on moving students along the learning trajectories followed by a half-hour math center time that provides more individualized instruction using the Essential Elements and individualized education program (IEP) objectives. The training has allowed me to see strengths in my students I was previously unaware of. The kids feel more confident, and I see less frustration when working with them on their individual goals. Our math meeting has high levels of engagement, and the kids are excited to participate every day. I have embraced the "repetition with variety" mantra. Math meeting is one part of the day that I can generally count on to go well.
The greatest implementation challenge is effectively differentiating for the wide range of skill levels we have in our classroom. Some students are ready to move on before others. Finding ways to make sure every student is met where he or she is at, and then appropriately challenged, is the daily struggle. Finding the right way to organize all the
materials was another hurdle. I was able to organize all of the math supplies in a cart with drawers and label the drawers so I can quickly find what I need. The teaching assistants and even the kids know where to go if they need a number line, calculator, hundreds grid, clock, coins, objects to count, etc.
We've had so many magical moments this year where a student solves a problem independently for the first time. As a teacher, it is so reinforcing to me to watch students experience success and know what I'm doing is working. I think I will need to take some time [this summer] to reflect on what we accomplished and what can be improved for the next school year. How many of the Essential Elements did I end up covering? What activities can I design that incorporate even more exposure to other math concepts?

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Teaching Movements for Communication
July 15-19, 2019
Wesley School in Muskegon
Alt+Shift has 25 seats and there was an application process for those seats
Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference
“Overview: Enhancing Mathematics Instruction for Students with Learning Difficulties,” pre-conference session
July 30, 2019
Eberhard Center
Grand Rapids, MI 
2-Day Introduction to PODD
August 7-8, 2019
Clinton County RESA
St. Johns, MI
Registration link to come
Emergent Literacy Instruction for Students With Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs
October 1-2, 2019
Clinton County RESA
St. Johns, MI

Upcoming Events: Michigan

PODD Alternative Access and Speech Generating Device
July 22-23, 2019
Lansing Community College West Campus
Lansing, MI
*prerequisite: Introduction to PODD Communication Books training (2 or 3 day)
Michigan Reading Association 2019 Summer Literature Conference
July 30-31, 2019
Shanty Creek
Bellaire, MI
Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) Conference
July 30-August 1, 2019
Eberhard Center
Grand Rapids, MI
Zones of Regulation
August 16, 2019
Holiday Inn - Muskegon Harbor
Muskegon, MI
7th Annual Autism Conference
October 10-11, 2019
Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites
Kalamazoo, MI
October 14-16, 2019
Kellogg Conference Center
East Lansing, MI
*Registration not yet open
2019 Van Riper Lecture Series
October 25, 2019
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI
Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together Conference
October 28, 2019
Lansing Community College West Campus
Lansing, MI

Upcoming Events: National

ASHA Connect Conferences - 2019
July 19-21, 2019
Chicago, IL
Closing The Gap 2019
October 2-4, 2019
Prior Lake, MN
International Literacy Association 2019 Conference
October 10-13, 2019
New Orleans, LA
 12th Annual Clinical AAC Research Conference
October 17-19, 2019
Washington, DC
National Autism Conference
August 5-8, 2019
Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center
State College, PA

Lending Library Update

There are 35 items out on loan. 

New Item:

J-Pad is an access device for iPS switch control. It has an intuitive joystick interface that provides comprehensive switch access to all iPad functions - including apps, music, iBooks, camera, and on screen keyboard.

Upcoming for the Library

Over the summer, we will be adding the new Empower software to PRC’s Accent devices in the lending library. The new software has simpler navigation and is easier to learn. Empower uses common terms and familiar actions, with clear directions and descriptions. It supports the LAMP Words for Life and Unity language systems.


As educators, we often have a good idea of tools or devices to use in the school setting. More and more schools are now looking to connect school supports with home life. To make these connections, it’s helpful to hear from parents who use AAC at home. One Michigan mom is sharing her ideas on the web! Kristine Witkowski makes AAC accessible for her daughter no matter where they are, like in the pool, at the zoo, or outside in the yard. Check out her website, blog, or Facebook page for resources and to learn more about how to make accessible AAC boards for several activities.

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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.