Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jigsaw Reading

Thanks Melek for the great workshop on jigsaw reading (July 16th)  - a very useful technique..

Here is an overview which Melek produced for us..

  Classroom Strategies
Jigsaw Reading
Jigsaw is a cooperative learning strategy that enables each student of a "home" group to specialize in one aspect of a topic (for example, one group studies habitats of rainforest animals, another group studies predators of rainforest animals). Students meet with members from other groups who are assigned the same aspect, and after mastering the material, return to the "home" group and teach the material to their group members. With this strategy, each student in the "home" group serves as a piece of the topic's puzzle and when they work together as a whole, they create the complete jigsaw puzzle.
This is an approach to reading that involves the students in speaking and summarising skills. It is very useful when working with short authentic texts such as newspaper articles.


Jigsaw is a strategy that emphasizes cooperative learning by providing students an opportunity to actively help each other build comprehension. Use this technique to assign students to reading groups composed of varying skill levels. Each group member is responsible for becoming an "expert" on one section of the assigned material and then "teaching" it to the other members of the team.


Jigsaw is a well-established method for encouraging group sharing and learning of specific content. This technique can be used as an instructional activity across several days and is best to use when there is a large amount of content to teach.
Jigsaw helps students learn cooperation as group members share responsibility for each other's learning by using critical thinking and social skills to complete an assignment. Subsequently, this strategy helps to improve listening, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Monitoring each student's participation within the groups provides teachers with information about how much the students already know about the topic. This allows teachers to tailor instruction accordingly.


 How to use jigsaw
1.     Introduce the strategy and the topic to be studied.
2.     Assign each student to a "home group" of 3-5 students who reflect a range of reading abilities.
3.     Determine a set of reading selections and assign one selection to each student.
4.     Create "expert groups" that consist of students across "home groups" who will read the same selection.
5.     Give all students a framework for managing their time on the various parts of the jigsaw task.
6.     Provide key questions to help the "expert groups" gather information in their particular area.
7.     Provide materials and resources necessary for all students to learn about their topics and become "experts."

Note: It is important that the reading material assigned is at appropriate instructional levels (90–95% reading accuracy).
8.     Discuss the rules for reconvening into "home groups" and provide guidelines as each "expert" reports the information learned.
9.     Prepare a summary chart or graphic organizer for each "home group" as a guide for organizing the experts' information report.
10.    Remind students that "home group" members are responsible to learn
 all content from one another.
Information above is compiled from the following websites:
Published on TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC (
Home > Teaching resources > Activities > Jigsaw reading

Further reading

The following links provide some examples of the jigsaw technique:


  1. In step 10, I wonder about the effectiveness of 'reminding' students to be responsible to learn all the content from their peers. Would it perhaps be better to have a task at the end of the reading which can only be accomplished by a student if they have indeed learned all the content from their peers?

  2. Considering the nature of the paper-based input for classic reading using jigsaw, I can't help but wonder if there are ways to exploit mobile technologies to encompass a wider range of skills. In most classes, there are enough smart phones to enable students to search the Internet and find information about the topic assigned to them in a jigsaw-type activity. In fact, I'm wondering if a Sugata Mitra - Demet mentioned his 'hole in the wall' research at the staff meeting (see - approach might be a logical extension of the classic jigsaw approach, but couched in a more 'discovery learning' task in a collaborative learning environment more in keeping with 21st century ICT skills. So, like the Mitra model proposes, the teacher really has to come up with four or five 'good' questions related to a meaningful topic, and then each group researches the answer to their assigned question. Then, the classic 'switch groups' and share information would follow, with some kind of authentic task at the end which requires a synthesis of the information gathered. In fact, if the questions are well designed, and the topic well-chosen, then there will be no one 'correct' answer, which is actually what happens in real life. And the students would have much more incentive to find out what other groups came up with in a more meaningful context.

    This, in fact, would replicate the kind of critical thinking skills and collaboration that I see referred to a lot in emerging paradigms, especially the embryonic 'connectivist learning theory' put forward by Stephen Downes (see, and collaborative learning environments like MOOC which the likes of Stanford, Harvard and MIT are promoting via their Edx initiative (see