Parking Lot for Questions: Have students write their questions for you on a sticky note and put them in the numbered spaces. The numbers function like a ticket at the deli counter in the grocery store - it gives them a place in line. When you finish working with one student, go to the next question in the Parking Lot.
When to Use: When students are doing independent work and you need to be helping individual students. It also works well for when you are conferencing with students one-on-one and do not want to be interrupted. Our 5th grade teachers plan to use it this year during their small group reading instructional time when students should be working silently at their desks while the teacher meets with a group in the back of the room.
Most importantly for me it eliminates the frustrated student sitting for 10 minutes with his or her hand in the air just waiting for me to come around. It helps that student "ask" their question and then get back to work, not feeling like they have to wait for me to get to them before they can move on.
I have also found that it helps students articulate their questions more clearly - sometimes I walk up to a student who has their hand raised, and they want to explain all the background before they get to the question. This helps them narrow their question to the scope of a sticky note, so they have to THINK about what they need help with. I ask them to be sure to write it in the form of a question.
It also helps me realize when multiple students have the same question. Today, I had three students write a sticky note that said "Can you help me with my conclusion?" This led me to stop the class and quickly do a whole class explanation of how the conclusion of the essay should look. By addressing it whole-class, I was able to answer multiple questions at once, and probably lingering questions in some students minds who had not yet written a sticky note.
Quick questions can be answered quickly. Today, I could read a sticky note, look over at the student and simply say "John, yes that is fine" and move on to the next student, streamlining my ability to answer questions faster.
This is a quick and easy classroom management tool. Try it! It takes one poster board or piece of chart paper, a marker, and some sticky notes to make it happen!
I was surprised by how well it worked even on my first attempt. If this becomes routine, students will always know that I am working to meet their needs.
Leave me a comment to let me know how you have used similar methods or how it goes if you try it! I am so interested to hear!