We used to play this game by simply guessing what’s in the box, but now I’ve changed it to make it more of a thinking task.
The pupils enjoy playing it very much and always ask for it if we have a little extra time.
They’re getting better at asking good questions and say to each other things like, ‘That was a stupid question!’ or
‘ Don’t start guessing yet!’ I used to have a real box with a real object hidden in it, but the size of the box restricted what could be in it, so now we think of an imaginary box, which can be of any dimension at all.

The teacher has an imaginary box and the pupils try to guess as quickly as possible what’s inside it.
The teacher answers their questions only with YES, NO or IT’S NOT IMPORTANT.
Example: the object in the box is a fridge.
The pupils try to think up questions which eliminate as many alternatives as possible.
Some of the questions they asked were,
‘ Is it a living thing?’ ‘No..’    
‘ Is it black?’  ‘Not important.’
‘ Is it smaller than that stool?’ ‘No.’     
The pupils soon start to realize what kinds of questions it’s worth asking.
They also notice that there’s no point in guessing the object directly until they are very close to the answer
(ie there are very few alternatives left as to what could be in the box.)

When they have guessed the object, we think about which questions are good. We consider what the questions tell us,
ie what parameters they describe, and make a chart (ENV model) from them.

ie       Material        Is it made of metal?
Size              Is it more than a meter high?
Location        Does everyone have one at home?
Use              Do you use it to store food?                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
The chart then helps them to solve future problems.
We haven’t named the columns in the ENV chart as I don’t know what to call them in Finnish,
but the pupils seem to have understood the idea.


# Alexander Sokol 2011-01-26 20:53

thanks a lot - now I can imagine the process much better.
A few ideas you might want to consider.

It's very good you ask your pupils to think about parameters when they're asking a question. One more useful thing would be to ask them to think how all possible values under this or that parameters can be grouped. Ideally, when they ask a question, 50% of possible values under the given parameter should be eliminated. You can visually demonstrate this by drawing a square on the board and asking pupils to colour the part of the square that's been eliminated by answering this or that question. It may help them see the quality of the question.

Another thing you might want to draw the pupils' attention to is that the parameters are not equally important. Some of them may be more valuable than others in this or that situation. An interesting question is to try to understand what it depends on.

This, in fact, will be a step towards the Thinking Task Framework which you can also find on this site.
# Anni Savisaari 2011-02-10 20:19
Thank you for your ideas! Those are very useful.
# Sari Suominen 2013-10-05 18:29
Kiitos tästä esimerkistä.. Selventää sopivasti ajatusta kehittävää näkökulmaa. Kerroitko aluksi vinkkiä laatikon sisällöstä?
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