Focus on Five: My Day Teaching ESY

While some states are slowly reopening, online learning is still the reality for almost all Extended School Year programs (ESY) this summer. Like Heather, I am teaching virtual ESY this summer (check out her post for planning a virtual ESY). Since virtual classrooms have been new to all of us, ESY has provided me an opportunity to reflect on my virtual teaching during the school year and implement some new ideas for ESY. Here is my typical day teaching virtual ESY…


1. Before Session Prep

An hour before I meet with my paraprofessional, I set up my physical space for the day and make sure all my materials (online and physical materials) are in order. I make sure I have my power cord for my computer and books to prop my computer up on during the meets. I use a whiteboard for the written schedule so I can easily adjust it based on which students attend. I also make sure that all of my slides are organized for the day.

2. Teacher/Para Collaboration 

I meet with my paraprofessional each day on Google Meets in the morning  for a half hour, right before the academic session. We go over the plan for the day and try out presentations and other things on Google Meets. I talked about having my paraprofessional be the slide manager, since you cannot see the students on Google Meet when you are going through the slides. I rename my slides to have a number before the title, so that myself or my paraprofessional can easily find the slides during the Google Meets session.

3. Summer School Live Session

My “Summer School Live Session” is my 90-minute live academic session each day, Monday through Thursday.  I use a work/break schedule, with breaks ranging from 3-7 minutes, depending on the activity and the students’ energy levels. I use a visual timer site that I found online to time the breaks. These Classroom Timers are perfect because there are a variety of fun and interactive timers. I usually let the students take turns picking which timers to use. There are also basic countdown and time timers included on this site.  

During my academic session, I do the Class Code (rules & expectations), the school mantra, the character education trait and the Zones of Regulation. After, I usually go into the first side of the Math Meeting page using Google Slides, then we take a break and then we go over the backside of the page. After Math Meeting is complete, we do part of the Orton-Gillingham 3-part drill, and then take a break. At the end, we do Boom Cards together practicing comprehension and the math skill based on the day of the week (Money Monday, Time Tuesday, etc.). Check out The Autism Helper’s Boom Cards-it has been great to be able to incorporate these into my online learning since my students were using The Autism Helper curriculum when we were in school. 

4. Social Skills Live Session

We have a half an hour break off the computer and then I invite any of the students I have had during the year for a social skills Google Meet. The most common activity I will have them do is ask a question to their classmates, teacher and paraprofessional (e.g. What are you doing for the 4th of July?). After everyone is asked, I have students report what another person has said. I will also sometimes do drama time games such as emotional spinner, where we use an online spinner (check out Katie’s blog post about using interactive spinners) and act out different emotions. Another game students enjoy is “Yes, It Is!”. In this game, I take an object from my apartment and pretend it is something else. I might take a fork and act out like I’m combing my hair. I will say, “This is my comb” and the students will reply, “Yes, it is!”. During the school year, we pass around the same object and pretend it is a variety of other items, but for online learning, students can pick and object from their home to participate in the game. 


5. Homework/Prep for Next Session

I assign students “homework” on Google Classroom, which is anywhere from 20-40 minutes (depending on their level) of an online curriculum (RAZ-Kids, Lexia, Dreambox and Xtra Math). I assign a different one for each day of the week (Monday-Thursday) it keep things fresh. I also include the Boom Cards we used as part of the class session in case students want to practice outside of class. At my end of the day “prep” I get the Math Meeting and Ortion-Gillingham slides ready for the next day. I also check my email and do any paperwork (attendance, time sheets) during this after session prep time.  


I hope you got some ideas for your virtual ESY classroom and sessions. Share your tips below for successful online teaching for summer or during the school year. Stay healthy and safe! 


  1. This is my first year teaching ESY! I am thrilled but anxious. I want to do well. I appreciate your examples and guidance. I will refer back to your “page”

  2. Hi Jerri, So happy to hear! Good luck & thanks for reading 🙂

  3. From you description it sounds like you are able to do group instruction with your students. Is that accurate? How many students are you working with. Do any need individual one to one instruction?

  4. Hi Mary Katherine,

    Thanks for reading my post 🙂

    I am lucky that I am able to do small group instruction with my ESY students-they are all at similar levels and I can easily adapt the activities and questions to meet the needs of individual students.

    I have 4 students currently assigned in my classroom for ESY. Only 1-2 attend the academic consistently. I have a half an hour social time that I open to all the students I had during the school year. I usually have 3-4 students show up to that session. As of now, I don’t have any students in my ESY class that need 1:1 instruction, but I would have a similar structure to how I run small group sessions.

    I hope you are staying safe and healthy! Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest