Our elementary school is a supportive and caring learning environment for students from Junior Kindergarten to grade 8. Classes are very small (between 4 and 8 students per class) and students are based in their homeroom throughout the day, where they get the attention and support they need to develop independence and confidence in their learning. We follow the Ontario Curriculum and all students have an Individual Education Plan, where programming is accommodated or modified based on the individual student so that each child gets what is required in order to be successful.
Our teachers, who are Specialist Teachers of the Blind, and our classroom assistants, who receive in-house training, employ teaching strategies that use multi-sensory, hands-on and experience-based approaches to learning. Curriculum-based field trips help our students to develop real life experiences in the world outside of their home and school. Students feel a sense of inclusiveness and belonging at all times, develop life-long friendships, and are included in all activities throughout the school day.
At W. Ross Macdonald, all materials are provided in whichever format a student requires. Not only do students receive daily classroom instruction on reading strategies and braille or print reading skills, depending on their needs, but they are also exposed to a wide variety of assistive devices and technology that we have available.
As we know that the development of literacy skills are crucial to the success of our students, we run literacy groups for an uninterrupted period of time, several times per week. These small groups are specifically tailored to meet each child’s individual needs. This literacy block is dedicated to fostering a love of reading using explicit instruction in fluency, comprehension and thinking strategies based on the similar abilities of the students in each grouping.
The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) promotes independence and self-confidence and is woven into our everyday activities in the elementary school. Our teachers and classroom assistants specifically work on the areas of the ECC daily with their students through social interactions, assisting them with their technology of choice, encouraging self-advocacy, travelling and working independently, etc.. As well, our teachers work with our Orientation and Mobility Instructors, Life Skills Instructors, and residence staff to support each student appropriately throughout their school day.
Music is integral in our elementary program. All children participate in a music class, taught by a qualified music teacher and there are opportunities for students to have one to one voice or piano lessons during the school day. Students have many opportunities to perform throughout the year as part of a choir, rhythm band, or as a soloist.
All of our elementary students participate in weekly gym and swim classes. Physical literacy is something that our physical education program promotes to develop balance, strength and coordination, as well as the overall fitness of our students. Children are supported in a safe environment with a high degree of support, and everyone is able to participate in all activities. Our physical education teachers and lifeguard/swim instructors run programming for our students, with the support of several classroom assistants, who ensure that students develop confidence and skills in a safe and supported environment, where they develop a love for sport and physical fitness. Our programming includes but is not limited to: swimming, volleyball, roller skating, soccer baseball, blind soccer, basketball, goalball, gymnastics, track and field.