Jigsaw: Base Groups/Expert Groups

The purpose of this activity is twofold: first, to comprehend and infer meaning from a text by becoming an expert on a portion of the text; and second, to share information with classmates. Jigsaw is a strategy that places students at the center of the learning experience and builds positive cooperation among classmates. The strategy can be used with a text or with an assignment.

Instructions

  1. The teacher divides the students into groups of equal numbers; four students to a group is ideal. If there are extra students, two students can be partnered and share a role within a group. This is the jigsaw base group.

  2. The teacher divides the text or assignment into parts so that each student in a group gets one section. That person will be responsible for teaching the information from their part to the other group members.

  3. The teacher then allows time for individuals in the jigsaw base groups to read, study, and process their part of the article.

  4. The teacher then instruct students to form “expert” groups wherein they meet with all students who were assigned the same part.  Students in the expert group work together to discuss the content and agree on the important points they will share with others.

  5. Students return to their jigsaw base groups, where they take turns presenting their part to the others in the group. During the individual presentations, group members take notes, ask questions, and make comments. Students then work individually to complete a task that requires them to demonstrate understanding of the entire article. 

Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning

  1. This is a synchronous activity. 

    The teacher divides an authentic text into parts so that each student in a group gets one section of the text. That student will be responsible for teaching the information from their part to the other group members.

    The teacher then allows time for all individuals to read, study, and process their part of the article.

    The teacher divides students into groups. Students are asked to re-name themselves in the live meeting software based on their group number. All of the students in Group 1 would rename themselves 1-Mary, 1-John, 1-Jorge, etc.

    The teacher distributes students into breakout rooms in “expert” groups where they meet with all students who were assigned the same part of article.  Students with the same group number now work together in a breakout room to discuss the content and agree on the important points they will share with others. 

    Students return from the "expert" breakout rooms. They are then sent to a breakout room with their original "jigsaw" group.  Each jigsaw group is made up of one individual or paired team from each expert group (i.e., 1-John, 2-Steve, 3-Natasha, 4-Nicole are grouped together). In their jigsaw groups, students take turns presenting their parts to the others in the group. During the individual presentations, group members take notes, ask questions, and make comments. Students then work individually to complete a task that requires them to demonstrate understanding of the entire article. 

Helpful Tips

  1. This activity works best with students at the intermediate low proficiency level and above.

Differentiation

  1. The teacher can intentionally assign different sections of text to students depending on the students' proficiency levels, and can also choose to assign texts with visuals (or even use videos instead of written texts) to aid in comprehension for some students.

  2. As an additional check for understanding, the teacher can ask students to participate in a class discussion or complete a written assignment, in which students give their opinions about the content and support those opinions with evidence.

Materials

  1. An authentic text or an assignment divided into sections (the number of sections should match the number of members in each group)

  2. Graphic organizers for the groups