Parking Lot

UDL 3.3 UDL 5.1

Parking Lot is a strategy where a teacher provides a space for students to anonymously write their ideas and ask questions about a given topic. The Parking Lot contains four sections for students to “park” their insights (i.e., questions, positives, changes, and “aha” moments). Students use sticky notes to contribute their thinking into the Parking Lot. The teacher consistently monitors student submissions and creates a routine forum to share student inquiries and thoughts (e.g., at the end of content lessons or at the end of the day). A successful Parking Lot not only gives students an easy way to communicate their voice to the classroom community, it also makes the internal dialogue of the classroom community transparent.

Implementation Tips

Divide sections of an easily accessible area (e.g., wall or bulletin board) using colored tape or paper. Provide sticky notes and writing utensils nearby so students can quickly add an idea or question (e.g., attach an envelope to the board or keep a bin close by with these materials).
Using Symbols
Use symbols to represent each section of the Parking Lot, such as a question mark (?), plus sign (+), delta (Δ), and lightbulb image to signify each area and to help students easily identify each section. Click [[ | here to download]] an example for your classroom.
Setting Expectations
Explain the purpose for each section and model how to write and incorporate questions and ideas before having students do so independently.
Maintain student use of the Parking Lot by encouraging students to post their ideas and insightful questions (e.g., “That is a great idea! Why don’t you post it to the Parking Lot and we can discuss it with the class later this afternoon?”)
Validating Notes
Validate each note by acknowledging and considering the idea in front of students. Read the notes word for word and talk through the ideas with the whole class. Use notes as a way to assess the needs and concerns of students as well as to highlight what students are enjoying and understanding.
Planting A Note
Plant a note and read is as though it were posted by a student to scaffold the strategy and initiate conversation. Examples might include a quick, relatable insight (e.g., “Someone really liked our math centers today. Does anyone else agree?) or a deeper-level insight (e.g., “Someone wants us to consider changing our Choice Time options. Do others feel the same way?).


Character Analysis
After reading [[,204,203,200_.jpg|Each Kindness]] by Jacqueline Woodson, a teacher uses a Parking Lot to focus on analyzing the main character. The teacher explains, "We will be using the four sections of the Parking Lot to discuss positives you notice about the main character, changes you'd like to see in her, questions you might have for her, and any "aha" moments you had." Students independently write down ideas and add them to the Parking Lot. Once all students have posted their insights, the teacher asks student-volunteers to randomly choose a post to read aloud. In this format, the class discusses each of the comments and answers all of the questions as a whole group. At the end, each student summarizes the discussion and highlights commonalities and differences in their character analyses.
After a mini-lesson fractions, the teacher uses Parking Lot to check for understanding and student engagement. Students are prompted to write a question or comment for two different sections of the Parking Lot. The teacher encourages students to share their thoughts about the content but also the lesson delivery (e.g., "Write about something new you learned or questions you still have about fractions, and about what you liked or would like to change about how we learned about fractions today.") Once all students have posted their comments, they sit in a circle and the teacher reads each post aloud, asking students to help answer questions or add to a comment. The teacher assesses that students enjoyed working with manipulatives but still need further instruction, and decides to spend more time on fractions using manipulatives the next day.

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