The Turkey Investigation project is part of a research program by Catherine Fosnot dealing with inquiry-based learning in mathematics. Grade 3-5 students work on problems related to multiplication and division.
The problem is typically related to the American context. Here follows the short description.
Turkey Investigations, Grade 3–5: A Context for Multiplication invites you into Dana Ostrowsky’s
third-grade classroom. Here children explore two problems that are posed
separately by Dana. In Buying the Turkey, the first problem presented to the class, students
grapple with the cost of a 24-pound turkey that is priced at $1.25 per pound. In
the next problem, Cooking the Turkey, students think about how long to cook the 24-
pound turkey if, as one recipe suggests, it needs to roast for fifteen minutes per pound.
Because the numbers in each problem—the relationship between a quarter of a
dollar and a quarter of an hour—have been carefully crafted to support the use of similar
kinds of grouping strategies (e.g., grouping four quarters to make a dollar in Buying
the Turkey and putting four fifteen-minute intervals together to make an hour in
Cooking the Turkey), there is the potential for students to model the problems in similar
The challenges presented by these two problems to students who are making their
first forays into multiplication push students to look for shortcut strategies and support
the development of specific mathematical big ideas (e.g., the distributive and associative
properties of multiplication) and landmark strategies (e.g., repeated addition,
skip counting, doubling and halving, etc.). As students struggle with these problems
they also develop different ways of modeling them. This includes the ratio table, the
open number line, and the double number line. (A. Cameron, S.B. Hersh and C. T. Fosnot, 2005)
We will look at a classroom video where pupils explain what they have been working on. Please, pay attention to:
- How the teacher reacts and guides the conversation.
- How the pupils interact.
Video Time required to cook the turkey (5 minutes)
Video Introducing a new challenge (2 minutes)