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Jigsaw Teaching Strategy

Use the jigsaw teaching strategy to engage your students and give them more ownership of their learning.

The Jigsaw teaching strategy gives students more ownership of the learning process and they must learn content and teach it to their peers.

How Does The Jigsaw Teaching Strategy Work?

  1. Divide your class into groups of three to six students.  Group sizes will depend on the nature of the class and the activity for which you are using this strategy.
  2. Assign each person in the group a specific and unique task.
  3. Give students time to fully learn and complete their assigned tasks.
  4. Have students get together with several other students who have been assigned the same task to discuss and improve their communal understanding and knowledge of the task and the information for which they are responsible. (In other words, have all “number ones” get together, have all “number twos” get together, etc. and share.)
  5. Have students reconvene with their original groups and complete the tasks they have been assigned in that group.
  6. This can also be used digitally by sharing online documents using Google Docs or Slides and having students meet in small groups to share information on Zoom or Google Meet.

How Do I Use Jigsaw Teaching Strategy?

  1. Before you use this strategy with a formal group assignment, let your students practice this strategy on a text with multiple parts. Assign each part of the text to each group member, and then give them time to reconvene and present their material. 
  2. As a way to divide up review:  When review time comes around, assign each member of the group a different portion of the review topic.  When students come together (step 5 above), each is responsible for a quick rehash of their portion of the topic and then quizzing their classmates on it.  You can even have students design the study guide for their portion of the review.
  3. As an alternate way to cover topics within a limited time:  Sometimes we run short on time or limited time to cover a topic is built into the curriculum.  For example, in an ancient history course you might have three weeks or even a month to cover Ancient Egypt, but only a few days to cover the rest of Ancient Africa. Instead of glossing over the entirety of the topic, assign each member of the group a different portion of the topic about which to learn and share. This way students learn about at least their portion of the topic with more depth.
  4. As a way to facilitate group research projects  Instead of just assigning a topic, using a Jigsaw allows you to not only make sure work is evenly divided, but it also gives each group direction and allows students to clarify, expand, and fact-check their research (step 4 above) before sharing and creating a unique project with their own group (step 5 above). When doing this, you will probably assign each group member a specific question or topic to research.  Depending on the research subject and your class, you might consider discussing and creating these questions as a class before beginning the Jigsaw instead of creating them yourself.

Why Do I Love This Strategy?

  1.  Jigsaw learning is communal.  Everyone is responsible for everyone else.  No one succeeds unless everyone succeeds, so everyone helps, encourages, and roots for everyone else, and therefore no one gets left behind.
  2. Students must truly internalize at least a portion of the material.  Because students are responsible for teaching their classmates about their portion of the Jigsaw, students must come to a much higher level of understanding of that portion than they would have been required to otherwise.

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