Jigsaw is a cooperative learning
strategy that enables each student of a “home” group
to specialize in one aspect of a learning unit. Students meet with
members from other groups who are assigned the same aspect, and
after mastering the material, return to the “home” group
and teach the material to their group members.
Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, each
piece--each student's part--is essential for the completion and
full understanding of the final product. If each student's part
is essential, then each student is essential. That is what makes
the Jigsaw instructional strategy so effective.
What is its purpose?
Jigsaw learning allows students
to be introduced to material and yet maintain a high level of personal
The purpose of Jigsaw is to develop
teamwork and cooperative learning skills within all students. In
addition it helps develop a depth of knowledge not possible if the
students were to try and learn all of the material on their own.
Finally, because students are required to present their findings
to the home group, Jigsaw learning will often disclose a student’s
own understanding of a concept as well as reveal any misunderstandings.
How can I do it?
In its simplest form, the Jigsaw
instructional strategy is when:
1. Each student receives a portion of the materials to be introduced;
2. Students leave their "home" groups and meet in "expert"
3. Expert groups discuss the material and brainstorm ways in which
to present their understandings to the other members of their “home”
4. The experts return to their “home” groups to teach
their portion of the materials and to learn from the other members
of their “home” group
In more detail, and written from
a teacher’s perspective, to conduct a Jigsaw in your classroom:
1. Assign students to “home”
teams of 4 or 5 students (generally their regular cooperative learning
teams). Have students number off within their teams.
2. Assign study topics to “home” team members by giving
them an assignment sheet or by listing their numbers and corresponding
roles on the board.
3. Have students move to “expert” groups where everyone
in the group has the same topic as themselves.
4. Students work with members of their “expert” group
to read about and/or research their topic. They prepare a short
presentation and decide how they will teach their topic to their
“home” team. You may want students to prepare mini-posters
while in their “expert” Groups. These posters can contain
important facts, information, and diagrams related to the study
5. Students return to their “home” teams and take turns
teaching their team members the material. I find it helpful to have
team members take notes or record the information in their journals
in some way. You may want them to complete a graphic organizer or
chart with the new information.
6. Involve the class in a whole-group review of all the content
you expect them to master on the assessment. Administer an individual
assessment to arrive at individual grades.
How can I adapt it?
There are limitless ways of adapting
the jigsaw structure in terms of the size of the groups, the range
of topics and the demonstration of mastery of those topics. Teachers
have developed many variations. Here are several modifications that
are helpful in different circumstances:
1. Give students subtopics and have
them use reference materials in the library to research their subtopic.
This frees the teacher from having to arrange materials in advance.
2. Have the “home” group
write a report or give a class presentation on the overall topic,
with the specification that it includes all the subtopics presented
in the group.
3. Prepare outlines or study guides
of what each subtopic should cover and have students read the same
text, organizing and becoming experts on the material highlighted
by their outline or study guide
& Evaluation Considerations
Assess students' degree of mastery
of all the material. Reward the groups whose members all reach the
preset criterion of excellence or give bonus points on their individual
scores if this criteria is met. Students will need to evaluate themselves
on how well their group did in the jigsaw (e.g., active listening,
checking each other for understanding, and encouraging each other)
and set goals for further interaction
- Bennett B., Rolheiser, C., Stevahn,
L. (1991) Cooperative Learning: Where Heart Meets Mind,
Educational Connections, Ontario.
- Aronson, E., N. Blaney, C. Stephin,
J. Sikes & M. Snapp. The Jigsaw Classroom. (1978).
Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publishing Company.
- The 'Jigsaw' Approach Brings Lessons to Life
- Lesson Plan for Jigsaw Activity
- Using the Jigsaw Cooperative Learning Technique - from ReadWriteThink
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