When teaching online, in a gradual release type model, Gerardo shares how giving students voice and choice (little by little, with less and less scaffolding throughout the year) keeps them engaged and motivated to complete learning tasks. He gave an example of giving students choice when demonstrating their learning about natural processes like water or rock cycles. With a Universal Design mindset, Gerardo allows students to choose how they will demonstrate their learning. Students are allowed to choose from different apps like Minecraft, or a tool like Google Slides where they can add images or their own audio recorded narrations, or they may choose to draw by hand and upload a photo of their work. This opportunity for choice gives students the creative agency to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts they learned in a way that best suits their learning styles and abilities. Gerardo also shares some tips and best practices for using rubrics and grading when giving projects like this.
Gerardo’s advice to others in the profession is to seek out mentors and learn from others in the profession. He says to observe others and get ideas, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel - I wholeheartedly agree with him on this! He also says to keep finding something that challenges you every year, and to try to keep learning and growing - he’s definitely an advocate for keeping a “life-long learner” mindset! A “left field” book he recommended (which I also need to read) is The Art of Procrastination by John Perry (Prof. at Stanford).
If you’d like to get in touch with Gerardo to pick his brain about anything we discussed in this episode, you can email him at email@example.com or give him a call at 951-444-8192!