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Jigsaw Technique
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Jigsaw Technique


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Tips for executing an effective jigsaw activity. Students gain confidence in being an 'expert' on their specific topic within each group. Group members work together to synthesize information and …

Tips for executing an effective jigsaw activity. Students gain confidence in being an 'expert' on their specific topic within each group. Group members work together to synthesize information and develop understanding of new concept based on each individual sharing with the rest of the group. All groups present on their findings. Great activity to introduce a topic as students present their understanding before teacher instruction.

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  • 1. Tips for Using the Jigsaw Technique (from “The 'Jigsaw' ApproachBrings Lessons to Life” in Education World) Teacher Ellen Berg offers three tips to educators who are new to the jigsaw method. * Prepare, prepare, prepare."When you decide to use a jigsaw activity, you need to know what you want the kids to get out of it and then structure the activity so you will get the outcome you want. You want the kids to "discover" a concept on their own, through connections they make themselves. That takes a lot more work than simply asking leading questions with predetermined answers or lecturing to them. The questions need to be open-ended. Usually, students will discover those things you want them to as well as other things you had not even thought of yourself. For me, that is the most exciting part because I am learning to see the topic of study in a new way and learning along with the kids." * Think through the management of the activity."How will groups be put together? How will you be sure that each jigsaw group will have one of each of the home groups? Who is doing what during the activity? How will the class move when it is time to switch groups? Thinking through the organization and being sure there is something for each member of the group to do is essential." * Do not give up after the first time you try jigsaw. "Jigsaw is an intricate technique that takes some practice from you and your students before it seems to gel. Since many students, unfortunately, are not used to tasks where they are responsible for their own learning and making their own connections, they may react negatively or become frustrated the first time or two you use this. You must circulate, listen to the groups, and give them a lot of support at first. You aren't giving them the answers, but you are asking them questions that help direct their thinking. After you use jigsaw a few times, you will see your students need you less and less. Stick with it!" Jigsaw Example: FAIRY TALE FUN -- JIGSAW STYLE! When Berg wanted her students to grasp the concept of the definition of a fairy tale, she decided that it was the perfect opportunity to incorporate the jigsaw approach. Berg began by having her students divide into five equal groups. Each group got one fairy tale to read. The stories were "The Ugly Duckling," "Snow White," "Hansel and Gretel," "Jack and the Beanstalk," and "The Three Little Pigs." Each group was responsible for collecting the following information: • Who are the characters in the story? • Where does the story take place?
  • 2. • What are the major events of the story? • Are there any magical or supernatural events? If so, what are they? After the students read, discussed, and recorded the above information, Berg split them into jigsaw groups. One person from each fairy tale assembled in a new group. (She assigns the jigsaw groups because it is difficult for her students to create these new, blended groups quickly.) In their new groups, students were each given three minutes to tell the other group members about the story they had read as well as the information they had collected. After that, the group had to create a poster and give a presentation that addressed two points: 1.What do all five stories have in common? 2.Using what you found in common, write your own definition for a fairy tale. "They started out trying to find simple commonalities like characters, but that did not work," said Berg. "They had to dig deeper to get any real commonalities. For example, some of them pointed out that men were usually the heroes, that there was usually a battle or conflict between good and evil, and that the good guys always won. They touched on ideas that the stories were timeless and could have happened at any time in history. They also said the stories tried to teach a lesson about how you should act -- a moral lesson." Not until after the presentations did Berg discuss the definition of a fairy tale according to the literature textbook. The students were excited to see that they really had developed a very accurate description of the concept, and they were more open to Berg's mini lesson that followed. "Other activities I connected to this unit included a compare-contrast essay comparing 'The Three Little Pigs' and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs [by Jon Scieszka] told from the wolf's point of view," Berg stated. "I also did another jigsaw activity for the final leg of the unit in which students read and compared five different versions of 'Cinderella' and then defined what a 'Cinderella story' was using the commonalities among the stories. Some groups chose to present their information in play form, and they were fantastic!"