Classroom Recommendations

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The use of the games and the instructional activities found in Adventures in Problem-Solving Activity Books I & II as well as Investigation Exercises Books I & II and The Teaching Guides improve students’ abilities to communicate their ideas effectively, critically listen to others’ ideas, offer creative and varied alternatives to problem situations, and develop critical problem-solving characteristics of flexibility, persistence and inventiveness.

The Mathematics Pentathlon® Program fosters cooperative learning by having students listen to and support each other in learning the games. The most effective use of the Mathematics Pentathlon® Program is to organize students into cooperative groups of four and teams of two students. While playing these games each think-tank team openly discusses various options and strategies so that all group members can hear. This technique enables all students to mature in their understanding of a game’s variables and strategies. Heterogeneous grouping is suggested. This allows students of varying abilities or learning styles to help each other by sharing their different perspectives. The Math Pentathlon Program stresses critical and reflective thought rather than reflexive, rapid responses. Students should be encouraged to examine alternatives in a game situation and to select a reasoned option. Although knowledge of basic facts is relevant to some of the Mathematics Pentathlon® Games, it is the strategic use of that knowledge that is essential.


While using the Mathematics Pentathlon® Games teachers are encouraged to move from group to group and ask students questions about the choices they have made. By doing so teachers slow down the impulsive tendencies of students. This helps them to become more reflective rather than reflexive. To create an environment of constructive competition teachers ask opposing team members to shake hands and wish each other good luck when beginning a game. Likewise, at the end of each game, opposing team members are again encouraged to shake hands to demonstrate their appreciation for each team’s efforts in “giving it their best shot.” Since the games deal with a wide range of mathematical thought including spatial/geometric, arithmetic/computational and logical/scientific reasoning, the games are ideal for a wide range of abilities and learning styles. All students should be provided with opportunities to experience the Mathematics Pentathlon® Games and encouraged to develop their problem-solving and strategic thinking abilities.

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Teachers are encouraged to initiate games with only a partial number of rules in operation and to add additional rules as students begin to demonstrate a knowledge of those already given. Each of the Division Guides for Teaching and Sequencing the Mathematics Pentathlon® Program organizes instruction so that 1) rules are introduced in a developmentally appropriate manner, and 2) essential prerequisite activities from the Adventures in Problem Solving Book and follow-up analysis from the Investigation Exercises Binder are implemented to maximize students problem-solving skills. Organized into weekly lesson plans, each Guide provides an exciting format for teaching the Mathematics Pentathlon® Program while also allowing teachers to customize the program to fit their individual classroom needs.