The Parking Lot

5559534294_9cc4b03624_bThe Parking Lot is a simple, clever way to respectfully handle student questions that cannot or should not be answered right away.

On the side of the board or on a piece of flip-chart paper or a page in your LMS, you write “Parking Lot.” At the beginning of the semester, you explain that all questions are welcome, but that you can’t always accommodate every single one the moment it is asked. These questions will be placed in the Parking Lot so that they are not forgotten and can be addressed at a better time.

Why wouldn’t we answer a great question right away? It might be…

  • too big
  • not level-appropriate
  • addressed in a future unit
  • too specific to one student
  • asked in the last 3 minutes of class

The Parking Lot validates students’ questions and gives teachers a degree of control over how much and in what way student questions change the lesson plan.

Note: if you use a Parking Lot, you must follow through. Incorporate it into your routines: refer to it in your lessons and make it a part of your lesson planning checklist. If it becomes the euphemism for “this is where questions go to die,” students will likely feel insulted if you place their questions there. I know I would!

Photo credit: 12/52 Chalk by Scott Akerman on Flickr

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One thought on “The Parking Lot

  1. Like the sound of that, I normally try and answer everything I can, I rarely get caught out now, but when I do I just search online, but I think it does break the flow of the class sometimes. Handy tips though!

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