This chapter is just one example of student centered learning methods for elementary school students. The author provides big ideas, or a summary of the chapter as well as several examples to go along with the practices. This book chapter is a part of a series of books (Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics By John A. Van de Walle and Lou Ann H. Lovin) focusing on student-centered learning for different grade levels.
In order to move towards student-centered learning, teachers must redefine themselves as learning designers. Moving from "I must teach my students this" to "I must help my students learn this" will help students to develop a better understanding of the material, uncovering it for themselves and adapting new problem solving skills, providing a richer learning experience.
Providing specific instructions, students can enjoy the freedom to learn. Four main resources are used here: Everyday Mathematics, a math journal that provides basic everyday instruction, Moby Math, which helps students to push themselves to their individual limits, IXL is a website for drills, fine tuning, and practicing their skills, and Kahn is a specialized resource designed to assist students who may need extra help. In all cases, learning focuses on the students.
A summary of student centered learning versus teacher centered learning helped to discover that students who were taught with a student centered approach had significantly higher mathematics scores than students who were taught using a teacher centered approach. The main difference was that those students had more confidence and insight into the material to be able to carry it out more effectively.
Previously, students had no say in their learning. What the teacher said was the rule, and students were given no opportunities to provide input or problem solve on their own. This video provides an overview of learning in the past, and how far we as teachers have come to provide students with more opportunities to grow.