The Mathematics Pentathlon® Program may be implemented in a variety of instructional formats including classroom, club, home and academic tournaments. Two or three formats may be used simultaneously or only one setting may be chosen. Maximum benefits are derived when all four instructional formats are functioning.
Math clubs offer many opportunities for students to learn the Mathematics Pentathlon® Program beyond classroom time. Club formats vary greatly. Conducted by teachers, parents and/or community leaders, clubs are often offered for 45 to 60 minutes either after or before school, or during lunch break.
The most effective use of the Mathematics Pentathlon® Program is to organize students into cooperative groups (think tanks) of four and teams of two students. While playing these games, each 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. This allows students of varying abilities and learning styles to help each other by sharing their different perspectives. The Mathematics Pentathlon Program stresses critical and reflective thought rather than reflective, rapid responses. Students should be encouraged to examine alternatives to a game situation and select a reasoned option. Although knowledge of the Mathematics Pentathlon® Games basic facts and concepts is relevant to some of the Mathematics Pentathlon games, it is the strategic use of that knowledge that is essential. The use of The Games along with The Teaching Guides that coordinate the instructional activities found in Adventures in Problem-Solving Activity Books I & II and Investigation Exercises Books I & II improves 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 using the Pentathlon Games, coaches are encouraged to move from group to group and ask students questions about the choices they have made. By doing so, coaches diminish 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, 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 Pentathlon Games and encouraged to develop their problem-solving abilities.
Coaches are encouraged to initiate certain 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.