I have always believed it’s not what’s on the outside that counts. But when I traded my squeaky metal desk for a modern wooden one this year, I now have to consider an exception. A symbol of renewal, the desk sits in front of the sunlit window, a clean, expansive work space. As impressive as a desk can be, it does lack the character of my former desk, which housed fifteen years of assorted collectibles. I have a soft spot for nostalgia, but this summer was a time of cleansing in preparation for a new year. So, because the new desk has no drawer, my unique collection (of accumulated junk) had to be thrown out. Fortunately, for the sake of this post, one conversation piece remains.
While admiring my new desk, one might notice that attractive leopard print lamp overseeing the work space. Now most wouldn’t take me for a guy who collects such tasteful decorations for interior design–and they would be correct. Surprisingly, leopard print is not exactly my style (nor is decorating), but it does invite a certain curiosity.
And that curiosity must be allowed to thrive in a culture of learning. So what’s the deal with the infamous sexy lamp?
I want to make learning a memorable event, but alleviate some of the anxiety associated with formal assessment. Excuse the awful pun, but there are times to shed light on where students are in terms of their understanding.
While the real education takes place throughout the formative stages of each unit, if treated properly, the final product will reflect successful growth. Formative feedback should guide further instruction and provide clear indication of preparedness for the summative assessment. If I have done my job of providing multiple opportunities while communicating continuous, target-specific feedback, students should want to showcase their learning. In my classroom, such assessments are known as “celebrations of knowledge.”
When students enter the classroom and see the lamp on, they know it’s time for inspiration–enlightenment–to celebrate our learning. New desk. Old tradition.