Differentiated Instruction using Schoology

Screenshot 2016-01-17 at 10.43.15 PMWell, it is a new year.  I have been very busy with family and working.  Mostly, my comics class has taken a ton time.  But now that I’m pretty much done building the content I can focus on the other teacher stuff.  Tomorrow I am presenting a portion of what I have been doing in my classroom the first half of the year for our school’s PD technology day.  I used Screencastify to record my presentation on using differentiated instruction.  I also wanted to practice before getting in front of the other teachers.  There is a difference between being in front of your students and being in front of your peers.

I’m not going to lie, what I did took a ton of work.  But it is beneficial to my students.  It’s also not 100% free from errors.  I’m going to tackle those this summer.  I have two videos here; part A is 10 minutes and part B is around 6.  It’s a 45 minute presentation. What am I going to do with the rest of the time? I’m going to add a bit of stuff, like practice.  Yep, practice.

Anyways, for those who have not used Schoology in the classroom it’s a great tool.  I use it in all my classes.  For my comics class I use it for reading articles, watching videos, and discussions.  I also have a link of approved comic websites, games, etc. for my students to utilize.

Without further ado here are the two videos.

If you have any questions or comments about using differentiated instruction or how it could be applied to other content areas write me below.


Mrs. Berry


Folders and Cups

My row of table baskets.

My row of table baskets.

I spent most of my day putting together my table folders and supplies. Something that I am using this year is setting up groups. Something that I have struggled against is time. Not enough time to set up clean up and then have the next group come in and be ready. Even though I am at a middle school; I’m using a technique I used as an elementary art teacher:

I will have a folder for each table group for each class. I have a large poster board paper that I folded in half and then taped the size. I have used teacher rolled paper (very thin) before and it doesn’t last as long (one about a year). Each folder will have a smaller folder for each middle school student (they make their own.) six classes x 8 table groups = 48 folders (these will last a while and I won’t need to do this many next year). Each class is labeled by their hour and then their table name.

I also went to the Dollar store and picked up baskets for each table group. What is slick about this year is that I labeled everything with the table name. I also included fun facts about the artist on the glass to hold the markers, and quotes from three quotes from artist on the crayon holder. This took some time. I did use a black sharpie marker. If I made a mistake I would just use a dry erase marker to fix it.

IMG_9405Here are the artists I used for my table groups. I picked these because they are my favorites.

  • Stan Lee
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Ansel Adams
  • Chuck Close
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Faith Ringgold
  • Sandy Skoglund

IMG_9404Then on each cup I included the following:

  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Country
  • Death (If they had died I put a date; otherwise, it is blank.)
  • 3-4 fun facts about the artist

I am going to be using these cups as time fillers. For example, if I have two extra minutes (which is rarity, we work up to the last second)I will ask the class questions about an artist and say…”which artist was born on….?” That group will get to line up first. I’m in the basement and they want to be first up those stairs. It’s a big deal.

A couple of reasons to put fun facts on the cups:

  • Student will read about their artist and not even know they are finding out information
  • Students will be reading (a sneaky way to incorporate literacy)
  • Students will learn something new
  • It is something different

It took a good three hours to put together the folders and table supplies. By having the baskets it will save time for set up and clean up.


Mrs. Berry

So it begins…..


My view when I first opened my classroom door.

Well, I’ve started to set up my classroom. It will take about two weeks to get it set. This fall, I am teaching six art classes to 6th-8th grade students. I have a nice normal schedule and I am very happy. I am teaching two Art 1 classes, two Comics classes, and 2 Design classes. This is the first time that I’m not pregnant at the beginning of the school year for this school. I am able to a lot more than what I have done in the past. Each time I go into my room, I’m spending around 4-6 hours organizing and setting up. The first day, I moved furniture. I am going with groups of four this year because I plan on having a lot more group work due to the training this summer. I had two great days of PD that were actually helpful to my class. Students will be going one to one devices sometime this fall. All my students will have Chromebooks. I have also router in my room, remember I’m in the basement. There is no signal.


After I moved furniture.

So after moving the desks where I wanted them I moved the old library shelves (pretty much all the stuff in my room has been pieced together from everywhere in the district). On the first day I cut cardboard to fit across the shelves. I save the boxes that paper comes in every year. You never know when it will come in handy. And on that day it did.

IMG_9395 IMG_9397 IMG_9398I also updated my set of classroom expectations and turned it into a painting. I painted two saying above my sink to help remind students what to do while at the sink. I painted them on my whiteboards with acrylic paint. (I picked this up at Home Depot. It’s a shower backing that they cut into 12” by 12” boards.) That way if I ever want to change it I can.


Picture sorting. So many to choose from.

The second day that I went in I started to hang posters. Something that I did last year, that made hanging artwork up easier this year was Velcro. This is slicker than snot. It costs a bit up front but then I don’t worry about putting holes into my walls or stuff falling down. I also don’t need to worry about tape on the front and back. I just put it up. It works well as long as I can remember which poster goes where.IMG_9390IMG_9391

I still have much to do to get my room ready. Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Mrs. Berry

Artist Trading Cards

front of cardWell, it’s has been a busy summer.  I have been having many adventures with my family.  I know I said, I would write posts.  It’s been a very busy summer.  As school is just right around the corner I have started to write lesson plans.  Yes, I know it’s a month away.  It will be here soon than you know.  One of the lessons that I plan on using this fall is one called artist trading cards.  A couple of years ago I participated in the first Grumbacher trading cards. Click here link to the post about it. I won and received some cool stuff.  They are currently on their 39th swap.

So I thought way not have a swap with another school.  I asked a fellow art teacher and she agreed to swap cards for our sixth grade students.  Rock on!  So I sat down a wrote my lesson.  I wanted to change my element of art lesson up a bit and have students do a bit of investigating line.  I also went to a 2 day PD where the focus was having students transition from teacher led student led. It was a great workshop. Since this is one of the first lessons of the year there is a bit more teacher guidance to help students develop anatomy.

So here is the simple version of my lesson

  1. Students find images 15-20 with line as the focus asking questions about their finds
    1. Is this a line and how to I know it’s a line?
    2. How do I know it is different from other lines that I have found?
  2. Students create a plan and receive feedback from classmates
    1. How does my artist trading card use lines?
    2. Do I have enough lines (10 or more)?
    3. Did I use neatness and craftsmanship?
  3.  Student create card
  4. Students receive feedback from classmates
    1. How does my artist trading card use lines?
    2. Do I have enough lines (10 or more)?
    3. Did I use neatness and craftsmanship?
  5. Turn in the project

I have the full version on my Artist Trading Cards: Line.  Here is a description of the lesson.

Students are always showing off their artwork and creating drawings for each other. This lesson uses that motivation by having students create artist trading cards. Specifically, this lesson has students use line in their trading card. The assessments and objectives are geared towards grade 6. However, this could be used at any grade level.

When you purchase this lesson you will receive an electronic file that includes National/Michigan/Common Core benchmarks addressed in the lesson, assessment, materials list, teacher example, step-by-step instructions, accommodation suggestions, vocabulary word cut outs, and student handout with directions/rubric.

If anybody is interested in trading cards with seventh or eighth grade students please let me know.


Mrs. Berry

Ships Ahoy

USS Von Steuben by Christy Berry

USS Von Steuben by Christy Berry


Well, now that school is done and I’ve set sail for my summer vacation I have time to actually write a post. Since my last post I had my fourth child; thus, the lack of time for posts. So my goal this summer is to write many posts, lesson plans, and have fun with my children.

Summer is also a time to reflect on the past school year. One of the best lessons that many of my students like was the final. This year the spring music program for the middle school had a theme of nautical music. I have student artwork that is hung with the music evening so the final project each trimester was to have the students create whatever they wanted with the idea that somehow it tied to the nautical theme. There were three main stages in the lesson: research/brainstorm, creating the art piece, and then final the essay/presentation.

It was really impressive when students were presenting their work. After the presentation classmates could ask questions about the artwork. They asked wonderful questions of the artist and the artist handled themselves beautifully in their responses. They were using art terminology and were able to describe their own process.   There were a couple of ways that I set up a “safe” environment for presentations. Here are a few tips:

  1. Explain/Discuss what an audience should do while somebody is presenting
    • Paying attention
    • Keeping their hands off of their own project
    • Keeping their bodies quiet
  2. Give the option to have a buddy/friend up there with them (they hold the artwork)
  3. Demonstrate how to present
    • Use a loud voice
    • Look at the audience
    • List all of the requirements for the essay
  4. Explain helpful and supportive questions/comments
    • Why did you choose the color blue?
    • What is this figure/object represent?
    • I like how you used a line to show movement, it really brings attention to that area.
  5. Invite students to ask questions of your artwork (be ready for some wild questions)
  6. Have everybody clap when students are done

While we were working on the final one sixth grade student told me that this was the easiest final he has ever taken. Students liked this lesson because they were able to choose whatever they liked. While students were working on their piece I created one of my own. I explained that the reason why I chose this piece is because my dad served on this sub when I was little and I remember seeing the pin he had when I was little. The materials I used were acrylic paint, a canvas and frame from Goodwill, and brushes.

If you would like the full lesson please click here the link to my teacher pay teachers.


Mrs. Berry

JMS 6th Grade Reading Essentials works with the James Dyson Engineering Box

IMG_9484My sixth grade Reading Essentials class used the Dyson Engineering Box. There was no cost to the school for the box. It’s provided by the James Dyson Foundation. All I did was ask if I could use the box. I put down my choice for which month I would like the box to arrive. We were very excited to receive the box. After four weeks we send it back. This is something that fits into my budget. The box came with directions and information along with posters. Along with a DC26 and heads to dismantle it also came with screw drivers. For more information please visit: http://www.jamesdysonfoundation.com/educators/

By far this was my students’ favorite lesson this trimester. There are several things that we did to use reading even though the students were mostly excited about dismantling the vacuum heads.

Reading Essentials DysonHere are some of our reading things:

  • We used looked at 10 vocabulary words relating to the box.
  • We analyzed and evaluated the text about James Dyson using several reading strategies week prior to dismantling the vacuum heads.
  • We worked in groups where each member took one of the five steps and either, verbally read the directions and questions, wrote the group answer, or dismantled the head.
  • Students also analyzed the design process and created their own inventions on paper. Some of the answers were pretty wacky and wonderfully thought out. My favorite was the teacher transporter so students wouldn’t start school so early.
  • Not only did this lesson cover common core standards for English Language Arts and Next Generation Science standards is also was engaging and lots of fun.

IMG_9529Feedback from my students:

  • Favorite lesson all trimester
  • The vacuum cord to plug into the wall is too short for my classroom.
  • Fascinated by the amount of dirt the Dyson vacuum cleaner could pick up vs the custodians vacuum cleaner he uses in my room. The custodian does not have a Dyson; his is a bag vacuum with only one wheel that pretty much only picks up paper.
  • Fascinated by the cyclone technology and watching stuff spin around.
  • The directions were not always clear on how to dismantle the vacuum or what part was what.

My feedback:

  • This was a fabulous lesson!
  • Students were engaged throughout the lesson.
  • It was fun to watch the students try to figure out the instructions and work well with their team mates.
  • This is a repeat lesson.

Please enjoy our video!


Mrs. Berry

6th Grade Students Look At Word Choice In Different Documents

Preamble by Mrs. BerryThis last week our sixth grade reading class was very busy with celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner, the U.S. Constitution Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day. We focused on word choice in those documents. We collaborated with the seventh and eighth grade band to be inspired by the song and look at the meaning in the words of the poem. The sixth grade students helped with the seventh and eighth grade students understand the definition of symbolism. The next day we looked at the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Preamble and Amendments 1-10. We analyzed the words with a partner and then took those words the next day and created a wax resist drawing with words. Students then created a wash over the words with watercolor paint. Finally, the day came to talk like a pirate day and we took children’s nursery rhymes and turned them into pirate rhymes. It was a hoot! Sixth grade students are brilliant when coming up with new ideas. I will do this lesson again! Please enjoy our video of our week. 

Here are links to my lesson plans on teachers pay teachers if you would like the details on the lesson.


Mrs. Berry

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

%d bloggers like this: