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Special Education

St. Raphael Catholic School is able to offer students differentiated instruction in a number of ways.  All classroom teachers offer students differentiated instruction to their students on a regular basis. As well, for children who are identified with an exceptionality, we offer a Junior Special Education Program and an Intermediate Special Education Program. Special Education teachers deliver an individualized curriculum which is outlined in their Individual Education Plan (IEP).  Some students remain in the regular classroom, while others receive instruction in their Special Education class for 50% of the day in Language and Math and are integrated in their regular classrooms for Religion, Environmental Studies, Art and Physical Education


St. Raphael also offers an ELL (English Language Learner) program to students who have recently arrived in Canada. This program allows the new students to learn English vocabulary orally as well as in written form so that they can be integrated into the regular class as quickly as possible.


Computer Literacy/Technology 

The modification of curriculum is based on the individual learning needs of the student.  Modifications may include the use of computers in word processing, calculators, remedial assistance, peer tutoring and coaching, individualized programming, oral testing versus formal written tests. Student homework may include reading and writing informational text on specific topics.


To help student success, the Academic IT department at TCDSB provides access to web-based tools which students can access from school or home. One such program that students can access is Premier Assistive Technology.   This software has a wide assortment of tools including a feature where the program will read to you.  To download your free copy, go to     Login: tcdsb     Password: access .


Another exciting resource students can access at home are e-books.  An e-book (electronic book) is the “digital media equivalent to a conventional printed book”.  With the support of our teacher-librarian who is very computer literate, our students have been exposed to these resources. Students are able to listen to great stories, following along with highlighted text and use word helper (when available) to increase their knowledge and understanding of the text vocabulary.  The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is one example of an e-books site. Log on to to view 23 actors reading their favourite children story. For the older students, they may want to take a look at the Project Gutenberg site for their free ebooks and free downloads,


SMARTBoard in the Classroom

A number of our staff members are using the SMARTBoard to deliver lessons for our students. This new technology allows for active participation by our students and opens the door to 21st century learning. Currently, our school has 4 full size SMARTBoards and one smaller portable SMARTBoard for use in the portables. Students are engaged by this interactive tool which allows them to work hands-on and helps to address the multiple intelligences of our students.


Blended Learning

Blended learning involves combining traditional face-to-face teaching with on-line learning. One grade 8 class in our school (one of three in the TCDSB) is involved in this pilot. We will use the blended learning model to complete curriculum units in language arts, science and math this academic year.


The primary goal of the pilot focuses on using the Learning Management System (LMS) called Desire to Learn (D2L) in a blended learning environment with intermediate classrooms.


Participating teachers and students will use the LMS to:

  • Share classroom content
  • Share homework
  • Communicate with students and teachers
  • Post and access files
  • Conduct online discussions
  • Use the calendar to organize
  • Share web-based media
  • Use existing teacher developed material in the OERB (Ontario Education Resource Bank)

Students and teachers will use the various tools such as:

  • the NEWS TOOL to communicate and build community,
  • the CLASSLIST TOOL to monitor and track the progress and work of students,
  • the DISCUSSION TOOL to encourage peer-to-peer communication and the continuous exchange of ideas by posting comments in a threaded discussion,
  • the DROP BOX TOOL to submit assignments and provide feedback,
  • the BLOG TOOL to collaboratively reflect on material presented in class or researched,
  • the QUIZ TOOL to create and administer online quizzes,

In addition, students and teachers will:

  • create and upload AUDIO and VIDEO content to supplement classroom material,
  • create links to supporting websites,
  • use third-party software to create original material

Blended Learning provides:

  • interactive environment (engaging/motivational)
  • increased participation
  • interaction with peers
  • decrease in behavioural problems
  • more likely to ask for help
  • able to learn at own pace
  • increased assessment for learning
  • differentiated instruction
  • levels the playing field
  • increased parent participation

The use of the LMS, Desire2Learn, will support the participating boards' strategies within their Literacy SMART Goals that develop reading and writing skills through strategies appropriate for a blended environment.  In particular the focus will be on making connections, inferring, reading for implicit information, improving cross-curricular academic vocabulary, organizing information and developing a main idea with supporting details. These literacy goals will be achieved in conjunction with Academic ICT SMART goals that will show students how to use technology tools effectively for learning as well as creating a culture of safe internet use.


Roots of Empathy

Our school participates in the Roots of Empathy programme and each year a different class and/or grade participates in the programme.  Established in 1996, ROE is an award-winning, evidence based classroom programme that has shown dramatic effect in reducing levels of aggression among children while raising social/emotional competence, parenting skills, and ultimately increasing empathy. This programme fosters the development of empathy through discussion and activities in subjects including Religious Education and Family Life Education, literature, math, music, art, and science. Once a month, a baby and his/her parent, join the class.  Under the facilitation of the Roots of Empathy Instructor, Mrs. G. Figliano, the students observe the baby’s growth and development and predict what the baby will be able to do by the next visit.  The baby is measured and weighed at each visit. The students observe many developmental milestones such as reaching for a toy, rolling over, sitting up, and perhaps, eventually, crawling and walking.  The students learn about child development in a very concrete manner as it unfolds in front of them, and as they share observations of “their baby” at work and play.


The ROE programme is possible through the generosity of its volunteers.  This year, Mr. Branco’s grade eight class is presently participating in the programme.  Each month baby Andrea and his mom, Mrs. Pitocco visit the classroom, and teach the class many significant aspects about child development and the importance of family and friends.  A bulletin board in the main hallway of the school  chronicles Andrea’s growth and depicts our family visits.  Our hope is to continue to build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. ROE provides a complimentary link to the faith foundation and Gospel values which identify us as a Catholic School.