Our elementary school houses classes from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8. In our elementary school, classes are very small and students are based in their homeroom throughout the day. We follow the Ontario Curriculum and instruction follows the students’ Individual Education Plan, so that each student gets what they need in order to be successful. Programming is accommodated or modified, based on each individual student. Our specially trained teachers employ teaching strategies that use multi-sensory and experience-based approaches to learning. Curriculum-based field trips expose our students to help develop real life experiences in the world outside of their home or school. Students at W. Ross Macdonald develop life-long friendships and are included in all activities.
At W. Ross Macdonald, all reading materials are provided in whichever format a student requires. Our early reading program supports all learners. The goal of our literacy program is to encourage our newest readers to move from an early reading stage to fluent reading. Not only do students receive daily classroom instruction on reading strategies and braille or print reading skills, but they move to a dedicated reading group for an uninterrupted block of time each day to build on skills that are specifically tailored to meet their individual needs. The students practice reading independently, reading in small groups, and participate in many activities related to their literacy skills and needs. This literacy block is dedicated to fostering a love of reading with a goal of using explicit instruction in comprehension and thinking strategies based on the similar abilities of the students in each group. Students are exposed to good quality written material in whatever medium is necessary to facilitate learning and instruction is based on activities that use visual, auditory, and kinesthetic movement. Frequent assessment is used to assure that students are appropriately placed and are achieving success. Collaboration between teachers and parents is an integral part of this program.
All elementary students participate in a music class, taught by a music specialist teacher. Students also can be a part of a choir of or rhythm band. There are opportunities for students to have one to one voice or piano lessons with one of our three qualified music teachers! Students have many opportunities to perform throughout the year.
Our physical education program is designed to help our students to develop balance, strength and coordination, as well as overall fitness. Classes are geared specifically towards students who are visually impaired and blind. We have 2 physical education teachers, as well as 4 full time lifeguard/swim instructors who run programming for our students.
Our Phys-ed program includes sports and physical activity and are accommodated to meet the individual needs of each student, so that all students are successful. Some examples of sports our students may participate in are: volleyball, roller skating, soccer baseball, blind soccer, basketball, goalball, gymnastics, track and field.
Our beautiful gymnasium, weight, fitness and cardio areas, as well as pool allow for many experiences for our students. We encourage all of our students to be physically active in a safe environment, where we have high staff to student ratios at all times.
All students participate in gym and swim classes weekly. We also encourage students to be physically active during break times in one of our outdoor playgrounds or activity room.
There are a wide variety of assistive devices and technology that are available for use by our students. There are computers in every classroom, with Zoom Text for large print users and Jaws for Braille readers. Many of our classrooms also have Smart Boards.
Expanded Core Curriculum
The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) promotes independence and self-confidence and is woven into our every day activities in the elementary school. Our specialist teachers of the blind specifically work on the areas of the ECC daily with their students through social interactions, assisting them with their technology of choice, travelling and working independently, to name just a few. As well, we have trained Orientation and Mobility Instructors as well as Life Skills Instructors who work one on one with the children, tailoring their lessons specifically to each child’s needs.
We are lucky to have a large number of support staff to meet the physical, emotional and social needs of our students, including:
Each year the grade 7 & 8 students attend a 4 day winter camp with the Outdoor Education class, as well as visit Lake Joseph for an end of the year camping excursion. As well, many field trips are planned for our elementary students as a way to learn in our community. W. Ross Macdonald has our own busses and vans to make it easy to get around in our community!