August 2020 - Volume 44
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
My Dad Matthew

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

CommonLook recently published the PDF Accessibility Terms White Paper including 40 PDF accessibility terms everyone should know. As you look to keep your accessibility skills sharp through the summer months, take the challenge and see how many of the terms you know. Each term is paired with a definition and helpful information that can reinforce what you already know and help you learn something new!

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey

Next month, we begin the AT Journey with a new intermediate school district (ISD) and Mike Marotta, Carolyn O’Hearn, and Sara Pericolosi. Participants will engage in virtual gatherings and asynchronous webinars focused on AT consideration, selection, and implementation. In addition to gaining skills in the the AT process, attendees will learn how to:

●      Build capacity by developing an AT team within their local districts.
●      Intentionally include families and caregivers during the pandemic (and beyond!).
●      Be flexible regarding AT and colleagues, families, students, and technology.
Ultimately, the goal of the journey is for students to receive the technology they need to succeed within their daily environments. If you or your ISD are interested in learning more, review the AT Journey Call for Applications or contact Carolyn O’Hearn for more information.

Comprehensive Literacy for Autonomous Communication

Alt+Shift is partnering with six new literacy sites during the 2020-2021 school year. Many of the new partnership sites engaged in virtual training sessions during July and August. These sites join our existing six partnership sites. Literacy for Autonomous Communication partnership applications are currently on a waitlist.

Delta Math

Delta Math continues to expand its resources to support the needs of more educators and students throughout Michigan. Within the past year, the following resources have been completed with the collaboration of regional math consultants throughout Michigan. All resources to support tiered instruction can be downloaded for free thanks to the partnership between Alt+Shift and the Ottawa Area ISD.

●      Additional Guided Practice to provide spaced practice to strengthen and maintain conceptual understanding using visual representations of mathematical ideas.
●      Visual Fluency Cards to provide spaced practice to strengthen and maintain conceptual understanding using 5-frames, 10-frames, and area models.
●      Algebra 1 Readiness Intervention Lessons using solved problems to engage students in analyzing algebraic reasoning and strategies.
●      Paper Readiness Screeners for 1st grade through Algebra 2 to eliminate the barriers of time and money for schools new to Delta Math  (Fall screeners will be posted by 8/15/20).
If you have any questions about Delta Math RtI program resources or implementation, please contact Mike Klavon.

Enhancing Mathematics Instruction for Students With Learning Difficulties

All face-to-face, state-level training for this course is on hold due to the uncertainty of health and safety guidelines at this time. Alternative learning opportunities are being discussed for educators who have been through the training as well as those who would like to learn more about it. Watch for details in the near future.

Foundations of Communication (FoC)

As we enter the 2020-2021 school year, several of our former FoC sites are now partnering with Alt+Shift to focus on Comprehensive Literacy for Autonomous Communication and Foundations of Math for Students with Significant Disabilities. FoC is a foundational piece to our other professional learning opportunities and is a great place to get started! We are currently accepting applications for partnerships. Download the Foundations of Communication Call for Applications to apply. 

Foundations of Math (FoM): Implementation Story

When school buildings closed in March, it took everyone by surprise and required teachers to quickly adjust their practices. This is one account of how a teacher who is actively engaged in implementing Foundations of Math (FoM) pedagogy moved to remote teaching and learning.

Cailin Jones
Birchview Elementary School
3rd Grade Teacher

In my classroom, I work hard to make sure math is a hands-on, student-centered, discovery-oriented subject. I want my students to work with manipulatives, find the connections through play, and make the step from concrete to abstract. However, when distance learning took over, I was worried about my ability to engage my students when I was not there to provide manipulatives or small groups and be a guide to their learning.

I divided the skills I had intended to teach into the remaining weeks of the school year. I took one week for each topic/skill set. For example, one week's focus was "Understanding Data." We took the week to talk about surveying, types of graphs, and how to read and construct graphs and pull data.

Overall, it was a challenging endeavor to cut through all standards and come out with five or six major topics. Worries set aside, I knew I had to try to make it as engaging as possible. I took a few steps to maximize engagement at home.

  1. I created videos of myself teaching mini-lessons and skills so that I was able to connect new material to background knowledge, as well as model for my students.
  2. I provided games and activities for students to engage with the content. For example, in our graphing unit, I modeled surveying and constructing a graph and then had my students do their own research and graph creations.
  3. I sent passwords and access to math games and sites that students enjoy such as Prodigy, ABCya!, and various math games I found to coincide with different skills. 

Student access was one of the most challenging aspects to distance learning. My district has a broad spectrum of students. Zoom would only reach about 45 percent of my kids. Thus, I made it a goal to provide as many entry points as possible.

  • I used Class Dojo as my MAIN information hub. I had 100 percent of my parents connected prior to the shutdown, so I knew this was my best bet to get information to all parents.
  • I copied all information and kept it up to date on Google Classroom. This allowed students to access the learning (my students are familiar with Google Classroom) if parents were unable to assist. Google Classroom also opened up access as students could use their Xbox to log in.
  • I made videos of me teaching mini-lessons. I made sure these videos could be opened on multiple devices. Phones were my priority. Almost all of my families have at least one smartphone. I would post the video link to Class Dojo and to Google Classroom. I even emailed the link to a few parents.
  • I made weekly and bi-weekly learning packets for families who expressed interest in paper copies of learning materials.
  • I made sure to keep communication open through weekly phone calls, emails, and dojo messages. I wanted to make sure families knew I was there to adapt the learning to the environment available. Distance learning was hard for EVERYONE. I strived to be their unwavering support.

I would say I received a mix of parent and student feedback. The main negative feedback I received was the overwhelming stress of technology. While we incorporate technology in the classroom and strive to help students feel comfortable with it, nobody was prepared for students to be thrown into online learning where most parents had no clue how to work with a laptop or Google sites. The best way I found to combat the disconnect was to offer screencast videos of how to access different programs. Trust me, the technology gap was exhausting on both ends, parents AND teachers.

On the other hand, I definitely received plenty of positive feedback from parents and students. One of the main positives was the love for our weekly Zoom meetings. I made sure to schedule a video conference with my students that was centered around social engagement. I did not want to force a lesson on my students via zoom and have them stop showing up. The Zoom platform served as one of my opportunities to engage students socially and emotionally. Therefore, our video chats often consisted of catching up with one another, playing a game, and then some time for my students to chat with each other. In surveys I put out to my class, the weekly Zoom catch-ups were by far the favorite activity.

Foundations of Math: Teaching Students With Significant Disabilities (FoM:SD)

In August, we will train our first cohort of FoM:SD instructors, representing two ISDs. This cohort will engage with Alt+Shift and Dr. Chris Cain to deepen their understanding of the content and prepare to co-instruct their first participants during the 2020-2021 school year.
Part of partnership with Alt+Shift involves identifying a team of educators who will become instructors for their ISDs and provide the FoM:SD course on a sustained basis to ISD and local district personnel. We are looking forward to taking this next step to capacity building with our first two ISD partners in August.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD)

Due to the pandemic, certified PODD trainers are unable to provide official two-day introductory trainings virtually. Alt+Shift is currently exploring ways to provide overview sessions that would allow educators to receive basic information about PODD and the rationale behind its use. Contact Carolyn O’Hearn to join the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) listserv to receive updates as more information becomes available.


The Priority Instructional Content in ELA/Literacy and Mathematics document, a resource from, was recently published to inform educators and leaders making decisions about instruction for the upcoming school year. Due to the disruption of learning last school year, and the potential for remote learning and school closures again this year, instructional decisions will need to be made to support all students.
The authors of the document note it is entirely possible to hold high expectations for all students and address unfinished learning with current grade-level content. Intentional instructional choices will need to be made, and this document can help inform you and your colleagues as you make those decisions.
The table below organizes the information by grade level and quick page number references.

Grade level Math page ELA/Literacy page
Introduction 4 61
Kindergarten 13 67
1st 17 67
2nd 22 77
3rd 27 77
4th 32 86
5th 37 86
6th 42 93
7th 47 93
8th 52 93
9th -12th Not Addressed 101
Appendix & Additional Resources 57-60 109-111

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

AAC Talk Time
August 18, 2020
9:30 to 10:30 a.m. EST

Upcoming Events: Michigan

Illustrative Mathematics Summer Academy (Virtual)
August 2020

Virtual Town Hall With Teri Chapman (Virtual)
More information coming soon
August 20, 2020
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Summer Book Study
June -  August, 2020

Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Fall Book Study (Virtual)
September 21, October 13, and November 3, 2020

8th Annual Autism Conference
October 8-9, 2020
Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites
Kalamazoo, MI

2020 Van Riper Lecture Series
October 29, 2020
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI
December 7-9, 2020
Kellogg Conference Center
East Lansing, MI
Math in Action: Call for Presenters and Save-the-Date
February 20, 2021
Allendale, MI

Upcoming Events: National

Intensive Intervention in Mathematics Course (Virtual)
Available on demand
Build Math Minds Virtual Summit (K-6) (Virtual)
August 3-5, 2020

100 Days of Professional Learning
April - September 2020
National Autism Conference
August 3-6, 2020
13th Annual Clinical AAC Research Conference
October 8-10, 2020
University of Pittsburgh
National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) Bold Leadership Summit 
October 19-21, 2020
St. Louis, MO
Closing The Gap 2020
October 28-30, 2020
Prior Lake, MN
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Regional Conference
November 11-13, 2020
Tampa, FL

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Conference (Virtual)
January 25-28, 2021

Lending Library Update

There are 67 items out on loan. 
Cylindrical device with two buttons on the front that make it look like an owl

New Item:

For those schools and districts meeting virtually, the Meeting Owl Pro is the solution for productive and inclusive meetings for distributed teams, remote trainings, and satellite offices. It features a 360 degree 1080p camera, mic, and speaker. The owl uses vision and voice to auto-shift the camera. It is easy to use; plug in the power and USB, load up your favorite video conferencing platform, and start your meeting. It is compatible with Zoom, Google Meet, Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams.

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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.