Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our Parking Lot

Science is all about asking questions. I try to instill this in my students every day. But sometimes in our class discussions the girls get SO interested and SO curious that we follow a rabbit trail of fascinating questions instead of the well-worn path. For example, without even realizing it we have departed our main topic of the moon's rotation around the earth and are suddenly discussing black holes and what happens to an astronaut if he left a spacecraft without a protective suit.

The parking lot is the perfect way to keep the students on track. Whenever someone asks a thoughtful, content-related question that we just don't have time to expand upon at the moment, I tell her to "park it." (Translation: Write it on a sticky note and put it on our Parking Lot poster.) I keep sticky note pads in little supply boxes on each table, so they are within easy reach. My girls are so used to this process now that many times they won't even raise their hands to ask. Instead of interrupting the discussion they simply get up quietly and park their question on the Parking Lot!

At the end of the week, I choose the best/most interesting questions and answer them on our class Blackboard page, complete with the girl's name who asked, and my answer.


  1. OMG! Reading this makes me wish I taught in a big classroom or something or was a real teacher. :) Love this idea!! Will have to pass this onto my sister who's a teacher in HS. :))

  2. Thanks, Kiki! And I appreciate your help in getting the word out... I'm very flattered!

  3. She did as promised and passed it along to her sister (me), and I think it's brilliant. I also love your comment about continuing to push ourselves. I'm in my seventh year as well, but I'm in public school, and with all the paperwork and evaluation hoopla to continually jump through, I feel like I'm doing good to just make it to school in the mornings. I think of all the creative things I used to do with my students, and I miss that about me. It made my day and theirs better. With the upcoming semester break, I think I'll try to tap back into that again. It's nice to know that there are people out there continuing to fight the good fight and try to remember why it is they got into this profession. Kudos to you for your self-motivation, and thanks for helping to motivate others, like us, who've just gotten overwhelmed with it all. ~Jenn

  4. Jenn, thank you so much for your post! And gigantic kudos to you for all your hard work! Keep checking back for more tips, thoughts and other teachery randomness... Haha. And if you ever have thoughts or ideas that you'd like to share, feel free to pass them on!