March 2019, Volume 27
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Seedlings Braille Books in Livonia Michigan

Foundations of Communication Update

The Foundations of Communication implementation teams met last month with Carolyn to review their implementation plans and to keep moving toward their end-of-year goals. Several teams are looking to expand the range of communicative partners (e.g., parents, bus drivers, custodians) and the places their students have access to core vocabulary (e.g., buses, playgrounds, at home, at work, in the community). Each team is coming up with creative ways to model core vocabulary throughout structured and unstructured parts of the students’ days, and they’re seeing increased student engagement, improved receptive language skills, and exploration of expressive language skills in several students.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Update: Implementation Story

Dori Dally, Speech Language Pathologist & Jennifer Jones, Teacher Consultant for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Shiawassee Regional Educational Service District (RESD)

Alt+Shift: In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the PODD training/implementation process?
Dori: We have put steps in place to become more systematic with our implementation process. We’ve created an inventory and library of PODD books to better track which students and classrooms are using PODD and to cycle books for others to use when students progress from one book to the next. We’ve developed and expanded our PODD implementation team to include an array of disciplines including classroom teachers, speech pathologists, an occupational therapist, a social worker, our Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) consultants and administration. Members of our PODD implementation team attend the Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings of the teachers who work with complex communicators. At these meetings, we target two of the PODD pathways by Interactive Speech Pathology. We have also used this time to gather input from our classroom teachers about implementation, assess their feelings/levels of confidence with PODD implementation to guide our decision making, and to utilize this time for training opportunities. Also, we have provided one to two-hour PODD overviews for our paraprofessional staff and are working on setting up learning opportunities for our parents. 
AS: What impact has the training/process had on you and those you work with (e.g., teachers, students, ancillary staff, administrators, Community Mental Health (CMH), parents)?

DD: We have seen staff confidence levels and excitement continue to grow through training opportunities and the implementation process. Having access to expertise available through Alt-Shift has facilitated the positive growth and changes we are experiencing.

Jennifer: Setting goals and an implementation plan at the Summer Retreat has been huge for our team. Goal setting has been crucial for us at the Shiawassee RESD to make progress, stay focused, and hold ourselves accountable. 
AS: Describe one (or two) implementation highlight(s) or success(es)

DD: We have a student who independently used PODD to communicate novel comments in both the school and home environments.

JJ: We have a student with complex needs using PODD to demonstrate some of his academic skills. He uses his PODD book to complete his spelling tests and math problems. 
AS: Describe one implementation challenge/barrier and how you're working on overcoming it.

JJ: Being able to purchase or make books for all of the students, families, and school staff that could benefit from using PODD. We received a MEEMIC grant for $500 and were able to purchase a number of two-page opening books. Also, the use of PODD for students with complex communication needs has rapidly increased at Shiawassee RESD. We want to maintain the fidelity of the system, and we are looking to develop and/or implement fidelity checklists. 
AS: What are your next steps in the implementation process? 

DD: We are in the process of establishing a coach or coaches within our district who are available to work with staff throughout the district. 

JJ: We are also continuing to work with families and Community Mental Health to increase usage and expand students’ use of pragmatic functions. 
AS: How has Alt+Shift supported your district's PODD journey? 

DD: Alt+Shift has been instrumental in providing training opportunities for our school district and PODD implementation team. We have received the two-day PODD training in our district, attended the summer retreat, and received regular implementation guidance.

JJ: Consulting on a regular basis with Carolyn, Alt+Shift, and the PODD community (other implementation sites) has been essential for our team to meet the goals we set at summer retreat and continue to grow professionally in our knowledge and use of PODD.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR) Update

AMMR’s online courses through EduPaths continue to gain steam with more than 300 people having engaged with at least one of the seven modules. These courses offer both a great introduction to the world of accessible content creation and an excellent review for those who have attended live trainings in the past and need a refresher.

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction Update

David Koppenhaver, along with three Michigan facilitators-in-training, provided a three-day Conventional Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs offering at the end of February.
Developing conventional literacy trainers in Michigan will build capacity within our state to provide training and implementation support for practices taught in that training. The next step for the three facilitators-in-training will be to co-teach the two-day Michigan Conventional Literacy offering with Dr. Erickson, which will happen this spring.

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey Symposium Update

Michigan’s weather has given the AT Journey travel-goers unexpected speed bumps along the way, resulting in rescheduled webinars and coaching sessions. Teams have gone through a strategic implementation planning process, which included them developing an action plan after establishing their long term “dream” goals surrounding AT in their districts. Join us for our next Twitter chat on March 12, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. EST! Follow @AltShiftEd and #ATinMI to join in.
For those teams interested in participating in the journey virtually, the first stop of the AT Journey: Web Edition is on the Alt+Shift website! Find it under: Resources, Assistive Technology, AT Journey: Web Edition.

(Mi)^2 Update: Delta Math Implementation Story

Delta Math is a Response to Intervention program that provides online readiness screening and standard based reporting, paper-based progress monitoring, and tiered instructional support for Kindergarten through Algebra 1.

Lisa Gravedoni is the new interventionist at Birchview Elementary. She came into the position at the beginning of the second year of Delta Math implementation and has focused on understanding the program, screeners, and intervention lessons. We asked her to tell us about getting started in her new position and utilizing the Delta Math Program. This is part I of Lisa’s story. Part II will be featured in a future newsletter.

Alt+Shift: How did you start to use and implement Delta Math?
Lisa: After 20 years of teaching in a classroom, I have come full circle and returned to where I started my career - in the Title I classroom. What I have come to appreciate through working with students using Delta Math is that math is a beautiful language, and I am blessed to be able to teach it! We are utilizing the Delta Math program by using the intervention lessons with the students receiving Title I services. We also use the screener data to drive supplemental instruction during our “Power Hour” enrichment time. Each grade level, K-3, has a half hour during the day that is devoted to building number sense to try to close the gaps that are showing up. 
I have found the well designed, sequential lessons so easy to follow and implement with my students. It also helped that I went through the Foundation of Math training to understand the importance of language and the use of the Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA) model when developing students’ understanding of the concepts.
AS: What impact has Delta Math had on you and those you work with?
Lisa: It has helped us create more of a math community with a direction. It's given us common language and common focus which is a benefit for students and staff. It has benefitted students by offering them a very deep and solid base for their continuing math education. We are using the data to identify gaps in student learning, and we plan to work on deficits during power hour time. 
It has been amazing to see some of the strategies that students are utilizing and being successful with. I come from the “memorize the facts and algorithm” generation of math with the teaching being “here’s how you do it.” That’s what I knew, so that’s how I taught. I feel like I have short-changed so many students the opportunity to really get to know the value of numbers and math in general. Now I see the importance of building that foundation for students and empowering them to no longer be held hostage by the numbers on the page. It has made a huge impact on me and my students!

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Michigan Council for Exceptional Children Annual Conference

March 6-8, 2019
Grand Rapids, MI
Alt+Shift breakout sessions include:
  • Assisting the Team with Assistive Technology by Carolyn O’Hearn and Ashley Rust
  • Building CapAACity - Implementation of School-Wide AAC by Carolyn O’Hearn
  • Don’t Get Stuck in the Math Mud, Use Concrete by Briana Bancroft
  • From Research to Practice: Teaching Mathematics to Students with Significant Disabilities by Briana Bancroft and Kate Fanelli
  • Shared Reading for Students with Significant Disabilities by Megan Zell
  • Writing for Students with Significant Disabilities by Megan Zell

AT Leadership Meeting
April 12, 2019
St. Johns, MI
Alt+Shift Implementation Team Summer Retreat
June 18-20, 2019
Traverse City, MI
*This event is open by invitation to our current implementation teams. More information to come.
Teaching Movements for Communication
July 15-19, 2019
Muskegon, MI 
*Due to limited seats for this workshop, interested participants should read the Call for Applications prior to submitting an application to attend. 

Upcoming Events: Michigan

79th Annual Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Conference
March 6-8, 2019
Amway Grand Plaza
Grand Rapids, MI
Michigan Transition Services Association Annual Conference
March 11-13, 2019
Grand Traverse Resort
Williamsburg, MI
Michigan Reading Association 2019 Annual Conference
March 9-11, 2019
DeVos Convention Center and Amway Hotel
Grand Rapids, MI
Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference
March 20-22, 2019
Detroit, MI
Michigan's - Speech - Language - Hearing Association Conference
March 21-23, 2019
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, MI
2019 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
18th Annual START Conference (Grand Valley State University START Project)
April 29, 2019
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, Michigan
12th Annual Life Without Limits Through Assistive Technology Conference
May 9, 2019
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Detroit/Dearborn
Detroit, MI
Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) Conference
July 30-August 1, 2019
Eberhard Center
Grand Rapids, MI

Upcoming Events: National

2019 Everyone Reading Conference
March 4-5, 2019
New York, NY
California State University at Northridge (CSUN) Assistive Technology Conference
March 11-15, 2019
Anaheim, CA
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Conference
June 24-28, 2019
Toronto, Canada
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

Lending Library Update

There are 71 items out on loan. 
Brightly colored squares and shapes

New item:

Algebra tiles

These math manipulatives allow students to build geometric models of polynomials and explore related concepts with colorful, plastic two-colored algebra tiles. Each student set has 35 algebra tiles: 20 single units, 10 x, and 5 x². This classroom set comes with 30 complete student sets.

Opportunities to Learn More/Changes to Lending Library Procedure

As a way to improve the loaning process, laminated components lists will now be added to each lending library device. Previously, the components list was emailed as part of the confirmation of an order. The laminated sheet is an addition that will make it easier to check that all components of a device were received and that all parts are accounted for before return shipment.


Don’t forget that Project Core has modules you can watch to learn how to implement aided language input throughout daily routines as well as structured lessons of the school day! The modules are set up so you can either engage in individual, self-directed learning, or learn as a group complete with PowerPoint slides, guided activities, and handouts. If you’re stuck trying to figure how to improve communication in your school or classroom, this website is full of valuable information and ideas.

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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.