February 2018, Volume 14
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Life, Animated Official Trailer 1 (2016) -
Owen Suskind Documentary

Alt+Shift Update

Look for Alt+Shift’s exhibitor booth, and three presentations, at the Michigan Council of Exceptional Children (MCEC) annual conference in Grand Rapids. Pre-conference activities will be held February 29, with regular conference activities on March 1 and 2, 2018.
Alt+Shift Sessions (Thursday, March 1st)
Session: From Research to Practice: Teaching Math to Students With Significant Disabilities
Description: All students can and should learn mathematics. Participants will learn about research on how to teach math to students with significant disabilities and view video that shows how math assessment and instruction can look for students in self-contained and center-based programs.

Session: Using Language in Mathematics to Improve Outcomes for Students With Disabilities
Description: Are you a K-12 educator looking for a way to help your students deepen their understanding of mathematics without spending a lot of money or buying new supplies and materials? The use of language (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) both by the teacher and the students in the classroom, is a high leverage, no-cost way to increase entry points for a lesson and opportunities for learning. In this session, participants will learn why language is important and how to use it for the benefit of students and about research, examples from real classroom experience, and recommendations for getting started.

Alt+Shift Session (Friday, March 2nd)
Session: Alt+Shift Lending Library: What It Is and How to Use It
Description: Learn what Alt+Shift believes about Assistive Technology (AT), what the Alt+Shift lending library is, how educators can use the library, and what AT devices are in the library.

For more information on the conference, visit the MCEC website.

(Mi)2 Update: Foundations of Math Training

Are you looking for ways to improve student outcomes in mathematics for students with disabilities, students who struggle, and students who persistently score below benchmark on math assessments?

Do all of your students, including those with significant disabilities, have the opportunity to learn and progress in mathematics?

Fall 2018 Foundations of Math registration and Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities registration are now open. Follow the links for more information about the courses, to download the flyer, and to register.

Each 5-day training will be offered at Clinton County Regional Educational Services Agency (CCRESA)  in St. Johns from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Foundations of Math will be held August 1 and 2; October 3; and November 5 and 6.

Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities will be held August 3; October 4 and 5; and November 7 and 8.

Cost is $75, which includes:
  • Five days of training.
  • State Continuing Education Clock Hours.
  • Lunch.

Both trainings are designed for educators responsible for the teaching of mathematics to students with disabilities in any setting, including general education, special education, inclusive classrooms, resource rooms, self-contained classrooms, and center-based programs.
Foundations of Math is designed for educators working with students who struggle with mathematics, or students with high-incidence disabilities such as learning disabilities, disabilities specifically related to mathematics, or mild to moderate cognitive disabilities.

Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities is designed for educators and related services personnel who work with students with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities, multiple impairments, and complex communication needs.

Educator Highlight: An Interview with Lacy Lauzon

Laci LauzonEducator: Lacy Lauzon
Principal / Program Supervisor

School: Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District
Learning Center
Alt+Shift: Tell us about your students.
Lacy Lauzon: We serve students from seven school districts in Delta and Schoolcraft Counties. We primarily serve students ranging from those with moderate cognitive impairments to those with severe cognitive and physical impairments. In addition, we house Early Childhood Special Education classes for the 3-5 year old population.

AS: What is your connection with Alt+Shift?
LL: Given the complex communication needs in our school, we engaged in the Foundations of Communication training. We immediately thought is would be an excellent resource to implement school wide. We have developed an implementation team which meets regularly, collects data, and plans meetings with our Alt+Shift consultant to continue to improve our services for students.
AS: How have your interactions with Alt+Shift influenced your work with students?
LL: We have learned that it does not take much work to improve the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) within our school for the benefit of all of our students. I believe even the verbal students have benefited in the area of language development as a result of increased modeling and use of core vocabulary in our school.
AS: Why did you choose a career in education?
LL: I love kids, and I want them to have hope for the future.
AS: What is one of your deeply held beliefs about education?
LL: I have always believed that everyone can learn, but have come to realize that even teachers who thought they could not learn more are capable of expanding their knowledge beyond what they thought. Proper support for them and involvement in the work they do from an administrative perspective helps teachers to realize a higher potential.
AS: What have you noticed since the implementation of school wide core vocabulary?
LL: We have experienced increased visual supports throughout the school. All staff has engaged with it. Students are responding to the core boards. Parents are making comments about more communication at home. I have observed student-to-student communication using the core boards. The staff is excited about this and it was easy enough for everybody to get started immediately after the training.
AS: How does this fit in with the goals of your school?
LL: Behavior is communication, and we are always looking for better ways to support the behavioral needs of our students. The best place for us to start was to look at our communication with students. We were then able to look at the ways our students communicate with us. Implementation of core vocabulary has improved our ability to communicate with students, their ability to communicate with us, and we have even seen students using the core vocabulary to communicate with each other.
We have had lots of success and we have been able to do this together. Often times strategic planning does not include daily activities. We use core vocabulary throughout the building daily and feel like we will accomplish our goals. We are all in this together, and the success comes from us all doing the same thing. We have trained teachers, therapists, outside agencies, parents, paraprofessionals, transportation personnel, and kitchen staff.

Upcoming Events: Michigan

U.P. Special Education Conference
February 22-23, 2018
Marquette, Michigan

MCEC 78th Annual Conference
February 28-March 2, 2018
Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction for Students With Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs
March 6-8, 2018
Romulus, Michigan

Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference
March 7-9, 2018
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Michigan Reading Association 2018 Annual Conference
March 17-19, 2018
Detroit, Michigan

Michigan Speech Language Hearing Association Conference
March 22-24, 2018
Kalamazoo, Michigan

17th Annual START Conference
April 30, 2018
East Lansing, Michigan

11th Annual Life Without Limits Through Assistive Technology Conference
May 10, 2018
Detroit, Michigan

2017 MCTM Conference (Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
July 25–27, 2018
Traverse City, Michigan

Michigan Reading Association 2018 Summer Literature Conference
August 1-2, 2018
Bellaire, Michigan

AssisTechKnow 2018
October 18-19, 2018
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Lending Library Update

There are 56 items out on loan. 
Core First for Windows app
New item:
Tobii Dynavox Snap+Core First for Windows app available on the Tobii Dynavox I-15

Snap + Core First is a symbol-based communication app designed for individuals of all ages with speech and language disabilities. Learning language, achieving literacy, and becoming an independent communicator is a journey with many stages. Snap + Core First meets each communicator wherever they are on that journey and evolves with users as they grow. It’s designed to be the most intuitive and engaging symbol-based software. The Snap + Core First pageset includes a wide variety of pre-designed button layouts, a full range of voices, and comes with free cloud storage backup so you don’t have to worry about complicated setup.

Lending Library: Opportunities to Learn More

Did you know that your Augmentative or Alternative Communication (AAC) device tablet is just like a computer? This means that to have optimum performance with your device, you should completely power the device down at least once per week (just like you would with a computer). This allows the computer to reset itself and fix some of the glitches that occur after long periods of use, especially full days of communication with the AAC device.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Corner

Remember back when you had your first training in PODD here in Michigan? During those first trainings a few years back, there was talk of an alternative access PODD template that would be “out by the end of the year.” As you all know, it didn’t come out for several years and this past spring the alternative access templates were finally made available in Australia (A4 paper size). At the advanced training held January 8-12 in Calgary, word was shared that the U.S./North American version is not yet ready for publication. As soon as we hear anything about this version, we’ll let you know!

You undoubtedly have students for whom alternative access would be beneficial. While you are waiting for the resource to become available, it would be a good time to review the factors to consider when choosing a PODD book for a student. Be sure you are consulting with and gathering information from all pertinent people when making this decision. 

Work directly with the individual to be sure you have good and current knowledge of their current communication. How do they respond to other people’s communication? How do they communicate (range of message types, different partners, different environments)? What might support or hinder their communication right now?

Also consider the individual’s physical access including fine motor skills. Do they experience mobility issues such that they would need a portable option? Are they experiencing sensory processing challenges? What about vision and hearing? 

Be sure you work with the team supporting the individual when making decisions about their communication system. Include information from the individual, their family, teacher, occupational therapists (OTs), speech and language pathologists (SLPs), and physical therapists (PTs). You’ll make better decisions with more and complete information!

Upcoming Events: National

CEC 2018 Special Education Convention & Expo
February 7-10, 2018
Tampa, FL

CSUN - Assistive Technology Conference
March 19-23, 2018
San Diego, California

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

Closing The Gap 2018
September 26-28, 2018
Prior Lake, Minnesota

Regional Assistive Technology Meetings

Michigan is divided into five Assistive Technology regions.  Most regions meet regularly to discuss issues pertaining to their profession and to further their professional learning.  To find out what region you are in, and who your Assistive Technology (AT) Contacts are for that region, visit the AT Contact List.

Region 1
March 12, 2018
April 26
June 1

Region 1A
*Contact your regional AT contacts for additional dates.

Region 2
February 22, 2018 - Remote Meeting
April 25

Region 3
No meetings scheduled at this time.

Region 4
*dates subject to change, contact your regional AT Contacts to confirm.
February 8, 2018
March 8
April 12
May 10
June 14

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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