Turkey Investigation Project

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 ways.
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 and the discovery 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 modelling 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)

You can watch a part of the series of videos below. This may inspire you to look for problems that are interesting for your pupils and can be designed to challenge them.

Part of Catherine Fosnot’s work has now been translated and adapted to the Norwegian context into a booklet.

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