September 2018, Volume 21
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Dear Teacher: Heartfelt Advice for Teachers from Students

Partnership Highlight: EduPaths

EduPaths provides free, online professional development opportunities to educators in Michigan and beyond. Over the past year, Alt+Shift has partnered with EduPaths to bring you an online series of Accessible Materials Made Right courses that teach the skills and knowledge that are necessary to create accessible content. There are currently five courses available with two more coming soon. Each course takes between 30 and 60 minutes to complete and is free and available to take at anytime that fits your schedule. Topics covered include: Why Accessibility Matters, Basics in Accessibility Practice, Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat Pro, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Ways to Move Forward.
Molly Bruzewski, who is heading up the EduPaths side of this collaborative project, says, "We have enjoyed our partnership with Alt+Shift this past year. We are excited about the EduPaths courses they have created with us. Their content is thorough, it is engaging, and it provides a solid foundation of what is needed for individuals, organizations, and schools to make documents accessible.”
This is an exciting opportunity that allows staff members who would otherwise not be able to attend a face-to-face workshop to still get a lot of the experience needed to begin creating content that is accessible to anyone who comes into contact with it. Some districts have already begun using the online courses to train staff. For example, Molly reports that, "Genesee Intermediate School District (ISD) is currently using the Alt+Shift course series in EduPaths to train staff across all programs in the principles of accessibility."

(Mi)2 Update

Another round of Foundations of Math trainings are underway. Dr. Chris Cain is back in St. Johns for both the Foundations of Math and Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities courses. He is working with four new Level 2 trainers (one new site and one additional trainer for a current site) on their certification. 
In addition to the state level offering we also have two regional offerings taking place around the state, one in each peninsula. Site-based support related to Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities is also being planned in two districts for the upcoming school year. More than 100 new educators will complete these courses by November. Seeing the momentum that has grown around this initiative in the last three years is amazing!

Educator Highlight

Lori Seagraves, M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA)

Alt+Shift: Lori, your team was a Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Implementation site during the 2017-2018 school year. How have you implemented ideas and information gathered through your collaboration with Alt+Shift?
Lori Seagraves: Through our previous experience with bug-in-the-ear coaching, we realized how valuable video taping can be as a tool, not only for coaching feedback but for self reflection. In the current cycle, having a plan, an agreement, and self analysis tools (the Practice Profiles) were essential to give the project direction and value.

AS: What impact has the training/ongoing support had on you and those you work with?
LS: Having another source to brainstorm solutions has been invaluable. It is always interesting to see your practice through the eyes of a fellow therapist!

AS: Describe an implementation challenge you've encountered and how you were able to overcome it (or perhaps are still working to overcome it)
LS: Our biggest challenge has been with garnering buy in. Some of the itinerant staff, administration, and parents struggled with the comprehensive nature of the communication tool. This is a continuous challenge as staff shifts, as well as the student makeup of the classrooms evolve. Our greatest tools in overcoming this challenge have been to have informational workshops, have parent mentors, and make sure we disseminate information in a timely manner.

AS: Describe an implementation success or highlight.
LS: Our data has demonstrated that, through coaching and training, we have significantly expanded the environments and persons implementing PODD with students. We have also demonstrated that data collection does not have to be complicated in order to be useful and can be completed by all persons in the student's environment.

AS: What are your next steps? How will you continue your implementation of PODD and/or augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)?
LS: We plan to continue to take data that will inform our practice, to set up consistent trainings and to establish systematic coaching for all users of AAC within our county.


Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

MASA Fall Conference
(Michigan Association of School Administrators)
September 19-21, 2018
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
Traverse City, 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 (MRALT)
1-day conference
October 22, 2018
Lansing, MI

Upcoming Events: Michigan


6th Annual Michigan Autism Conference
October 11-12, 2018
Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites
Kalamazoo, MI

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

Michigan POHI/SXI Conference
November 8-9, 2018
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI

#TalkingAAC 2018 Conference
November 28-30, 2018
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, MI

2018 MiAEYC Annual Early Childhood Conference
(Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children)
April 11-13, 2019
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place
Grand Rapids, MI

Upcoming Events: National

2018 Native American Conference on Special Education
September 19-22, 2018
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town
Albuquerque, NM 87104

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

Making in Education Conference at Maker Faire Milwaukee
September 29, 2018
Wisconsin State Fair Park
West Allis, WI 53214

2018 NAEYC
(National Association for the Education of Young Children)
November 14-17, 2018
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.

Lending Library Update

There are 15 items out on loan. 

New item:

AACORN app on iPad

AACORN is an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app for non-verbal and speech delayed children. AACORN’s easy-to-use design makes assistive speech accessible to children of all ages and abilities. AACORN focuses on both speech and language development. The user makes a single word choice and AACORN finds and presents additional words automatically, just like predictive text but with word pictures. AACORN works because its branching pathway design visually shows the 'relationships' between words, teaching language through word association at the same time as providing assistive speech. AACORN is now available in the lending library on any of the iPads or ProSlate devices.


The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) leader blog is the official blog of ASHA. The blog encourages discussion related to specific topics in the field. It includes categories for augmentative and alternative communication, technology, autism, and many others. Check out the ASHA leader blog.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Corner

Welcome back to the new school year! Your classroom is ready. Your class list is complete.
Is this the year that you’re going to focus on developing your students’ communication functions? How will you do that?
If you haven’t already, develop habits to have your PODD book with you all the time.

1) Establish routines in your classroom to ensure that everyone has a book “within arms reach” so that communication opportunities are not lost.

2) Make a plan with your staff to focus on specific communication functions. You might use Yvette Theodorsen’s free “PODD Focus” sheets to guide your practice.

3) Ensure that your student’s communication systems are meeting their learning requirements. Vision issues? Consider high contrast symbols. Motor issues? Consider fewer symbols on a page or a different access method. Meet with the student’s team, including the student and their parent to consider all perspectives.

Make your communication intentional this year. Start the year off right by making communication the priority because as we all remember from the PODD training, “you can’t teach without communication.” Have a great start to the school year and remember to connect with other educators who are moving forward with PODD in their classrooms.

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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.