ESY Planning Should Be Fun and Easy!
ESY is one of my favorite times of the year. The pressure is off and we can just have fun. In fact, I call it ‘no-stakes teaching’. Starting in August, the pressure is on for rules, routines and reinforcement. By the time we have that down, it’s time for the first rounds of assessments. Once those are done we push hard for gains for the rest of the year. Many times teachers find themselves in a high-stakes situation where student growth determines portions of their evaluation. By the time ESY roles around, we have been through the ringer. We miss the fun of teaching, and that’s exactly what ESY brings. The low-stakes teaching environment allows teachers to take risks and try something new, be messy, and have fun while retaining and building skills. Here’s how I’m planning for ESY.
Pick a Theme
I find a theme makes planning fun and easy. My students love a good theme and we go all in. From social skills to centers, we will pull the theme in as much as we can. I pick one theme per week and we have 3 weeks of ESY.This year my amazing co-teacher and I picked Community Helpers, Pets and Space. These are topics I’ve never gotten to during the school year, but they are fun and engaging. A quick tip – pick themes based on student interest! Let your students help lead discussions, share knowledge, and learn about their favorite topics.
Once I have themes picked out, I start gathering materials. I grabbed some big magazine holders from Target and an empty copy boxes. I label them and start digging through already prepped materials to gather what I have, then I make a list of what I need. For my Community Helper’s unit I already had Community Helper’s Easy Matching Workbooks and some fun Community Helper Adapted Books.
Pick Engaging Materials
When you are planning what to use for ESY, look for items your students will love. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but if you do, have plenty of familiar materials around, too. My students love Easy Matching Workbooks, so I got the newest set on Community Helpers.
Plan Your Day
ESY might be a shortened day, but I find that without the push-in schedule, your time is more efficient and you can accomplish more. Make sure to take time as a whole group, small group and 1:1 instruction. Build in sensory breaks, snacks and gross motor/recess time. Here’s a glance at my schedule:
8:00-8:15 – Arrive, unpack, bathroom, morning work
8:15-8:45 – Morning Meeting
8:45-9:15 Direct Instruction Session 1
9:35-10:05 Direct Instruction Session 2
10:20-11:00 Direct Instruction Session 3
11:00 – 11:30 Centers (three 10 minute rotations)
11:30-11:45 Social Skills/Closing
11:45-12:00 Bathroom/Pack up
Plan for Communication
Just like during the school year, plan on building that home-school connection. Having parent/guardian support is important, even thought the ESY session is a short one. I use The Autism Helper’s Home-School Communication sheets to communicate with parents daily. Additionally, I use SeeSaw to share progress, updates, and photos of all of our daily fun activities.
Take some time to make sure you have fun with your students. If you are giving up your summer off to teach, you should at least have some fun! Use this time to branch out, get creative, and experiment and try new ideas with your students. You never know – you much just find something you’ll want to keep for the fall!
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