Jigsaw Strategy Lesson Plan

Jigsaw Strategy

Grade Levels: 3-5

Strands: Civics and Government, Geography, Economics, History

Why: (Purpose)

  • Cooperative Learning
    • Collaborative team-based tasks
    • Encourages responsibility and self-management
  • Deep Learning
    • Collaborative learning
    • Self-directed learning
    • Effective communication
    • Developing academic mindsets
  • Higher Student Achievement
    • Promotes critical thinking, reasoning, and summarizing
    • Increases retention for “expert” material
  • Greater Engagement
    • Students are directly connected with the material
    • Responsibility = increased focus
    • Invitation to express ideas
  • Well-Being
    • Promotes higher self-esteem
    • Increases self-confidence in a less threatening environment
    • Encourages more face to face interaction with peers

What: (Description of the Strategy)

Jigsaw is a collaborative process that places heavy emphasis on cooperation, intrinsic motivation, and a shared responsibility to play an important role in a content-based academic learning experience. In order to be successful, team members must depend on one another in order to complete the task at hand and no one individual can succeed without the other members of the team. Jigsaw, along with building content knowledge encourages students to discover more about their peers while contributing to a common educational task such as reading or researching.

  • Physical Environment: Jigsaw is to be completed as a class activity and is most successful in a well-structured and spacious learning environment.
  • Norms: Create “group procedures” or “communication guidelines” to ensure groups follow and understand an easy-to-follow standard for collaborative work.

How: (How to Set Up the Strategy)

Step 1: Organize students into groups of 4-5 and then assign each member of the group a number or letter. (Tip: Use playing cards to randomize the groups by using numbers and suits. You can also pre-determine the groups and level them however you wish.)

Step 2: Choose the content or lesson and divide it into an equal number of parts to match the number of group members (4-5). Assign each student a different responsibility.

Step 3: Walk students through the given assignments, expectations, and roles for each group.

Step 4: Allow students time to learn, process, and internalize their assigned portion independently.

Step 5: Create “expert groups” by placing students who completed the same portion of the assignment together. Ask these groups to discuss the process and findings of their assignment.

Step 6: Ask students to return to their original groups and take turns sharing the portion they have now become experts on.

Step 7: Have students complete a product or assessment that is reliant on them understanding the material discussed and covered by the presentations of all their group members.

Digital Application of the Strategy:

In a virtual classroom, this can be managed by utilizing Zoom breakout rooms or assigning each group to a specific Google Meet to complete their portion of the assignment before bringing everyone back together at a certain time. In this setting, providing the students with a teacher-created digital template or collaboration page would be ideal. This would allow both the “expert groups” and the “Jigsaw groups” to document and share their learning.

Face-to-Face Application of the Strategy:

In a face-to-face classroom and in a whole group setting, the teacher would introduce the learning objective, content lesson or topic, and the desired outcome before introducing the Jigsaw strategy and dividing the students up. The teacher would then space the student groups out to facilitate and observe their work while the students are in both the “expert” and “Jigsaw” groups. This includes checking in on the group procedures, asking higher-level questions, monitoring for comprehension, and intervening when necessary. At the conclusion of a Jigsaw session, the teacher will gauge the learning by asking students to complete an assessment based on the content and original learning objective. (Tip: When using Jigsaw for the first time, it might be a good idea to walk the students through a trial run and model each step of the process.)

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