Basically, the second objective from The Florida Framework for K-12 Gifted Learner states that students will identify, generate, evaluate and refine significant questions. All too often students (and quite frankly adults) just look at a issue and jump to a solution without ever taking a real look at the issue. Many times, due to lack of investigating that first solution may be incorrect or there might be a better solution not considered. This is dangerous problem solving and could lead students to make costly mistakes in the future. Like anything else we teach these skills need to be defined, modeled and practiced.
With that said, Twenty Questions is an activity we played at start our day for the first several weeks of school for a about ten minutes at the start of each class period. In this game, student are given the task of using no more than twenty true/false questions to discover a mystery item in the room. For our game of Twenty Questions, we defined a significant question, to be one that we can use to narrow down the field of items in our classroom. My students were consistently reminded that when it is time to make specific guesses we should have narrowed the field down to only a couple possibilities. For example, after learning that our item came in many colors and had a point a student posed the question,"Is it a marker?" Which is fair question, but there were still many other possibilities our item could have been. So I asked the student to rethink his question and he then refined to be,"Can you write with it?" Since my answer was no this new question eliminated a marker and several other items (pen, pencil...) as well, which made this a much more significant question.
I really do believe that good problem solving starts with students learning to ask really good questions. I truly want my students to be grown ups that listen, explore and research issues and not just make decisions or rush to get a job done. Any chance I have to give my students the opportunity to practice those skills I will, even in a game of “Twenty Questions".