Active Learning Ideas: The Jigsaw Method | On Effective Instruction

Active Learning Ideas: The Jigsaw Method

The Jigsaw Method

The Jigsaw Method

The jigsaw technique is a method of organizing classroom activity that makes students dependent on each other to succeed. It breaks classes into groups and breaks assignments into pieces that the group assembles to complete the (jigsaw) puzzle.


Students work in small groups to read information that has been organized into sections. Each student in the group reads one section of the material and then shares that information with the rest of their group. As they read and share information, they refer to prompts such as: what do you think each idea means? What is the big idea? How can this idea be applied to help understand the concept(s)? What questions do you have about what you read? What do you agree/not agree with?

There are various permutations of jigsaws. One such model include expert and cooperative groups: Each group can be assigned a particular aspect/part of the overall information – they read it individually and then discuss in their small “expert” group to make sure they all understand it. Then new “cooperative” groups are formed made up of one-two students from each of the original expert groups. In this way, the new groups have an “expert” representative from each of the original groups so that all of the information is now represented in the new cooperative group. The “expert” has had a chance to practice sharing and hearing other viewpoints about the information in their original group, and therefore likely feels more comfortable sharing in the new group.


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