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General Science and Teaching

Jigsaw Activites-Effective or Ineffective

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Shalen Boyer Shalen Boyer 5530 Points

I've seen a number teachers use the jigsaw method to reinforce content in cooperative learning settings. Maybe it's me, but I have problems getting my students to really discuss and teach the concept that they learned about to their home groups. Many of them simply hand their guided note sheet to their partners and everyone copies the answer down. Has anyone implemented this strategy successfully in their classroom? Perhaps my students have not had enough modeling to really engage in meaningful discussions.

Sarah Benton Feitlinger Sarah Benton 1775 Points

I have used the jigsaw method (and continue to use it a couple times each year) to teach a few readings that are supplemental. I have had the same question as you- how effective is it? Kids in groups often depend on the one player to step up and do the work for them, then how much do the other students listen while they are teaching the class? I've found that it is a bit more effective if you are very strategic placing students in groups so that those that usually follow step up to the challenge. Often I'll require each member of the group to speak when they are teaching their section. I've also tried creating approaches to the activity. Once I allowed kids to create a skit to teach their part of the reading. This was the only time I really feel like kids retained the material later in the year. I don't think it is necessarily the best way to teach, but it does allow for some variety when it comes to students learning content through reading rather than investigating. Probably not something to do all the time, but once in a while. I'd be interested in hearing other ideas about this.

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43135 Points

There was a time when jigsaw activities were a strong part of the culture of the schools I taught at. I am a middle school teacher that teaches Design and Engineering with a smattering of Algebra or 7th/8th grade Science depending on the school year and enrollment. There are times when it was effective, but I am beginning to find as with all good things, I’ve seen it used so much over all content areas, it is losing its effectiveness. I really wish when strategies were introduced, they didn’t get used so much kids find them boring. In my own experience, I have seen our teacher PD done using the jigsaw method and it drives me crazy. Part of the reason I think is because so many don’t really read the article, or share on a really low level. I often go away wondering what I might have missed because someone else didn’t think it was important enough to have in the discussion. If I have to read all the articles anyway, why do a jigsaw? As I type this, I am thinking this is getting to be more of a chicken and the egg dilemma. In this new era of rigor, I am not sure the jigsaw, at least for middle schooler is standing the test of time. I would like to hear others responses. I wonder if there is a way to reinvent it in a whole new way?

Yoli Gonzales Yoli Gonzales 2165 Points

I, too, have used Jigsaw periodically in my classes. For me, the only way it worked fairly well was when I gave students a graphic organizer or leading questions or specific concepts or ideas they had to address during their sharing time as well as had members do a simple formative assessment of what each person contributed to their understanding and learning. I found that front loading the lesson by giving them many opportunities to practice being the "teacher" to other is the key to making students who are less reluctant to participate see other students model their thinking and teaching. Grouping kids is another important consideration; making sure students are in heterogeneous ability groups also helps to build student's confidence to share and be more accountable to what they read. I agree that in the PD trainings where Jigsaw was used, it wasn't as effective with adults because time was always an issue; so not much effort was spent to closely read the topic because we knew we really wouldn't have time to do it justice.

Marelis Rivera Marelis Rivera 2365 Points

I will echo the previous poster and say that I have used them (sparingly!) and had greater success when I gave the students a graphic organizer to fill out. This really helped my students figure out how much information they were supposed to gather for their group. I also took a very long to engineer my groups. I did NOT randomly group students and made sure that each group was composed of students who work well together and would be productive.

Patricia Rourke Patricia Rourke 45925 Points

Although this post does not directly speak to jig-saw activities, there are resources within the Learning Center that address using puzzles as effective learning tools. For example: Journal Article: Science Sampler: Periodic Table By: Pamela Galus Grade Level: Middle School Teaching the periodic table can be a mundane task filled with repetition and rote memorization. The techniques for engaging activities outlined in this article will help students become familiar with the periodic table in fun and exciting ways through mediums such as games, silly stories, jokes, puzzles, and songs.

Destiny Huggins Destiny Huggins 10040 Points

I am a student teacher. I have had only one class that introduce jigsaw to us. When we did it in class each table group was given a question guide and we had to answer those question. Then we had to present to the class our topic. When other groups presented their topics we have to write down the notes and even though we could easily answer the question the great thing was that each group presented the topic differently. I really enjoyed it, but at the same time it is not a great tool for my own learning, lets just say I don't trust others :) I think what is important is to have the guiding questions that you want the students to focus on so at least you can make sure they are getting that, then after students present you can fill in the gaps. I would definitely try it out in my class, maybe during the energy segment coming up...

Onedy Saavedra Onedy Saavedra 1490 Points

Perhaps assigning specific jobs within each group will help with its effectiveness. Generally group work can lead to slacking and copying off others but if you give each person a job that they are responsible for that might help. Also, giving a group and individual grade for their contributions might help as well.

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