A Mathematics Pentathlon® Club is most effective when students are organized into cooperative groups of four. The linked 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. While playing these games each think-tank team openly discusses various options and strategies so that all group members can listen. 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 Mathematics 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® Program, Coaches are encouraged to move from group to group and ask students questions about the choices they have made. By doing so coaches slow down the impulsive tendencies of students. This helps them to become more reflective rather than reflexive. To create an environment of constructive competition coaches 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 theMathematics Pentathlon® Games and encouraged to develop their problem-solving and strategic thinking abilities.
Coaches 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 theMathematics 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 coaches to customize the program to fit their individual club needs.