Season 1, Episode 8

The importance of risk-taking in the science classroom: A conversation with Valeria Rodriguez

In this episode, our host Eric Cross sits down with Miami-based educator Valeria Rodriguez. Valeria shares her journey of serving in the Peace Corps, working a corporate job, and eventually finding her passion as a middle school science teacher. Listen in as Valeria explains how sketchnoting, a form of note-taking that utilizes illustrations, encourages student choice, and fosters creativity in her classroom. Eric and Valeria also discuss the importance of risk-taking within the science classroom, and how students’ own mistakes can be crucial in modeling resilience. Lastly, Valeria shares experiences she had with several teachers who inspired her throughout her career.

Meet our guest(s):

Valeria Rodriguez

Valeria is an educator, instructional technologist, graphic facilitator, and dreamer. She currently works as a Science teacher as part of a STEAM Team in Miami, Florida teaching third through fifth graders as a free-lance graphic facilitator. She loves to connect with passionate educators she meets around the country. Valeria has presented and led workshops at educational conferences like SXSWEdu, ISTE, NSTA, NSTA STEM Forum, SHIFTinEDU, FAST, FCIS, and SEEC. When she is not teaching or sketching, Valeria can be found adventuring with her family around the world, training for triathlons, and creating opportunities to empower kids in all kinds of communities.

You can check Valeria’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter & Instagram.

Meet our host: Eric Cross

Eric Cross is a seventh grade science/technology teacher, grade level lead, and digital learning innovator for Albert Einstein Academies, International Baccalaureate schools. He is also an adjunct professor of learning and technology at the University of San Diego and a Google certified innovator. Eric earned a bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific University and a Master of Education from the University of San Diego. He had 17 years of experience working with at-risk youth and underserved populations before becoming a middle school teacher. By building relationships with students, colleagues, and the community, he has become an empowered leader in and out of the classroom. Through meaningful learning experiences centered around student agency, STEM has become accessible to students through highly engaging lesson design, thoughtful integration of digital tools, and culturally relevant pedagogy.

Transcripts and additional resources

Show notes:


I use [sketchnoting] and I mess up all the time…because I feel that my students don’t want to make mistakes, and drawing is one of those things that taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes. - Valeria Rodriguez