Two action figures look like they're having a conversation with each other and stand against contrasting backgrounds

Jigsaw Reading

Activity aim: To provide students with an opportunity to gain exposure to multiple readings; to encourage students to review / synthesize / draw connections between multiple texts; to review reading in preparation for a discussion

Materials needed: An article questionnaire handout (Google Doc), a digital or physical sign-up sheet like this one (Google Doc), sticky notes or a piece of paper

Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour. Note: you should plan to conduct the sign-up for this activity in the class period(s) before this one.

Activity Description

In a jigsaw activity, students in a pair or a group each have a piece of information that the other student(s) need, but no one has all of the information. Students must work together in order to put the entire “puzzle” together.

There are many reasons to do a jigsaw activity. It can help students to gain exposure to the ideas in multiple texts. It can help students to become “experts” in a certain piece of a problem, and then to share their expertise while learning from the expertise of others. It can allow students some choice in what to read, which might increase their interest in completing the reading. It can be a way to encourage reading accountability.

There are also many ways to structure a jigsaw activity. Everyone can read the same text and can look for different information or can be asked to read it in different ways.

Here is one way to structure a jigsaw activity.

  1. Ask students to sign up to complete one reading on a list of between 5-8 choices. A roughly even number of students should sign up for each reading so that you don’t have 20 students reading the same piece.
  2. During the first 10-15 minutes of the activity, students should answer some questions about the reading that they completed along with the other students in the class who read the same piece.
  3. While this happens, the instructor can circulate to check in with different groups.
  4. After students have completed the initial task, a student from each of the reading groups should form a new group.
  5. In the new group, students answer questions such as:
    A. What would the author of your piece say about XYZ? Is this the same or different from other people in your group?
    B. Which of these pieces contains an example of XYZ?
    C. How does XYZ concept in the first article contrast / compare with XYZ concept in the second article?
    D. What questions do you have for the class?

The purpose of these questions should be to create an authentic context in which students are teaching each other about what they read.

Image credit: JD Hancock, Flickr Creative Commons

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