During my career, I had to prepare my students for number sense, calculator applications and mathematics. Trying to find time for all three was difficult, but I managed to do it because of the way I organized my lesson content. This became evident several months ago, when I was asked to do a workshop (on number sense, calculator applications and mathematics) for students and their coaches in 4 ½ hours. Previously, I had always done a one-day workshop for each contest separately. At first, I thought it was an impossible task but was surprised to find a better way to execute the task.
I started by writing an outline of the mathematical concepts required for students participating in all three contests. Next to each concept, I placed an NS, CAL or MATH so that students and teachers knew which contests were impacted by each. The outline was also written in a sequential order from basic to more advanced concepts. It is interesting to note that many of the concepts in the outline impacted all three contests. After completion of the workshop, the students and teachers were impressed by how much mathematics they were exposed to in a short period of time. They also realized how studying one event was having a positive impact in the preparation for the other two. If this strategy was implemented in a longer time frame, I am confident that the teachers and parents would be able to maximize the number of concepts taught, while minimizing the time required to teach them. Obviously, if implemented for a longer period, there would be instances in which you would focus on one event if you determined that it would target either an individual or group weakness. Since conducting “cross-training” for number sense, calculator applications and mathematics at the workshop, I have begun using it during my tutoring sessions and I have seen dramatic results.
Many parents and students are concerned about how to prepare for all three events, feeling that it negatively impact schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Now, they realize that cross-training in the three events is producing a student who can solve problems mentally and quickly (number sense), one who can use a calculator efficiently and solve word problems and geometric drawings proficiently (calculator applications) and who is learning test-taking strategies to excel in solving multiple choice problems (mathematics). This combination of skills is not taught at any school (private, public or home). Teachers and parents need to become aware of how beneficial cross training in number sense, calculator applications and mathematics can be for their students and children. I am sad to say that less than 1% of teachers and parents are aware of this.