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This Cooperative Learning strategy was first invented by Eliot Aronson in 1971. It is an effective way to help all students understand a new concept or learn new information.

The key component is that each student is an essential part of the process. Jigsaw encourages active engagement, student interaction and communication skills. It works well when working on topics or concepts where there is a large amount of material to cover.

This active strategy takes planning and practice, but students gain confidence and social skills as well as knowledge in a safe and cooperative atmosphere.

Steps :

  1. "Home" groups of 3 or more students are formed (students A, B and C).
  2. In each group, students read about a different but related aspect of the topic. e.g. for a topic about farming, all "A"s may read about dairy products, "B"s about grains, "C"s about fruits and veggies, etc..
  3. All of the "A"s gather together (and all the "B"s, etc.) and discuss what they have learned, deepen their understanding and brainstorm ways to present the material to their home group. They become the experts.
  4. A timeline, summary chart/graphic organizer or guiding questions can be used to establish focus.
  5. The students record the key points of their learning to share with their home group e.g. create a chart, make a visual, write a summary, highlight key points, etc..
  6. Students return to their "home" groups and teach the other members of the group what they have learned.
  7. The home group puts all of the new information together to complete the assignment. This is an essential part of this technique.
  8. In a whole group, students can reflect on what they learned and how each member of the group added to this learning.

Opportunities for differentiation with Jigsaw technique :

  • Pair weaker students with more competent readers in home and expert groups.
  • Have resource materials at different levels of readability, and in different formats, e.g. internet site, material presented in visual or auditory modes, etc.
  • A student who has difficulty writing could represent what he learns visually, tape record key points, or have someone act as a scribe.