Jigsaw Activities

jigsaw puzzle piece Jigsaw is a cooperative learning strategy in which the class is divided into small groups consisting of five to six students. These small groups serve as the students’ home base. Each member of the home-base group is assigned to an “expert” group to learn a portion of the content. After the students meet in their expert group and learn their specified content, they return to their home-base groups to share what they have learned with the other group members. This strategy allows everyone in the class to learn all the content relevant to the subject, as opposed to just the piece they were responsible for. The jigsaw strategy can be implemented during one class period or across a number of class periods, depending on the depth or complexity of the content or skill being learned.

  1. Create small heterogeneous groups of five to six students (i.e., home-base groups).
  2. Assign one student per group to be the leader.
  3. Divide the lesson into sections. The number of sections will depend on how many students are in the groups.
  4. Assign one student from each group to learn a section of the lesson. Teachers can assign students based on readiness or interest.
  5. Allow students time to study the content for the section they have been assigned.
  6. Direct students to meet with students from other groups who have been assigned the same section of the lesson (i.e., “expert” groups). Give students time to learn the content and to practice how they will present this information to their home-base groups.
  7. Instruct students to return to their home-base groups.
  8. Provide time for each student in the home-base group to report their findings. Also encourage group members to ask questions of the presenter for greater understanding and clarification. (Note: The leader will be responsible for making sure that each member of the group is given time to present their information and participate in the discussion.)
  9. Monitor the groups.
  10. Assess the students’ understanding of the concept or skill.
Adapted from Jigsaw Classroom. http://www.jigsaw.org/steps.htm

In the example that follows, the teacher uses the ten steps listed above to implement the jigsaw strategy during a unit on Brazil. He implements this strategy across a one-week period.

Step 1 On the first day, the teacher divides the thirty students into five home-base groups.

Step 1 He also chooses a leader for each group (denoted by star).

Step 2 Because each group contains six students, he divides the lesson into six sections or topics:


Step 4 He assigns one student at each table a topic (e.g., culture) based on his or her readiness level and interests.

Step 5 He allows the students thirty minutes in class to read the materials on their topic and allows them to complete their research as homework.
Step 6 The second day, the teacher instructs the students to get into their expert groups (e.g., culture). On the second and third day, he allows them to discuss their topic and to practice their presentations. As the students work, the teacher walks from group to group to monitor their progress and to provide help when needed.

Step 7 On the fourth day, the students meet with their home-base groups to share their expertise.

Step 8 During this fourth day, the teacher allows thirty minutes for the students (approximately five minutes per student) in the group to report what they have learned about Brazil.
Step 9 Again, the teacher monitors the students and provides needed support.
Step 10 On the fifth day, the teacher assesses the students’ knowledge of Brazil.
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