Pre-Reading Jigsaw Show


Contributor: Alice Cassidy, In View Educational Development,

Ingredients:  One reading that you can divide up into a number of natural ‘sections’, of 1-2 paragraphs each.

Method: Divide your number of participants into 4. The result is the number of sections into which you need to divide your reading. Do so by drawing lines across natural sections of the reading and numbering each one in the margin, 1, 2, 3, and so on. Have this ready for the class in which you will assign this work. Near the end of class, ask students to number off so they know which group they are in (there should be about 4 students in each group.) Give each student a copy (in hard copy or electronic). They are responsible for reading only their numbered section (and coming to the next class having done so).

In that next class, students form their groups as described. Give them about 10 minutes to discuss what they read, and formulate a plan to present it, in any way they wish:  a skit, a rap song, a small poster, or ??. Tell them how much time they will have to present and invite them to be creative, while at the same time clearly sharing the content and concepts of their assigned section of the reading. When it is time, ask Group 1 to present, Group 2 and so on, such that the one reading has been ‘presented’ in the correct order. The time it takes to do this really depends on your group size, how much time you give for each presentation (it can range from 2-5 minutes each) and what activities you might like to do next with the reading as it relates to your overall course or seminar. Some ideas are:  ask if any group has questions for the others after all of the presentations; assign each student to now read the complete piece and come to next class with key points; have a discussion about how this reading relates to what we have done and what will do next in the course or seminar. If you are doing this activity as a seminar for teachers, you might ask them how they will use or adapt it, pros and cons of its use, or?

Special Notes:  If you have a very large group, and/or the reading you wish to use cannot be divided in that many sections, consider having groups number off 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, such that two groups have read the same section, and present one after the other. It might be a neat way to reinforce the content and concept of each section.

Acknowledgements:  I first presented this pre-reading idea in an Innovative Educators online seminar in 2015. I have used various forms of jigsaw in teaching undergrads and working with faculty members. I have used a ‘mash-up’, based on my reading of some of the literature on cooperative learning, especially work by Johnson and Johnson in the early 90’s. Wikipedia has quite a good overview of cooperative learning

References: There are many references to jigsaw, a form of cooperative learning, most notably by Elliott Aronson in the early 1970’s (see The general idea is that each group is ‘expert’ on their section, and they now ‘teach’ the others, either by forming new groups where each person knows only ‘their reading or, as I have described above, where the ‘teaching’ is done in front of the wider group.

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