Jigsaw teaching

This week we are looking at Jigsaw Teaching. This cooperative-learning reading technique gives students the opportunity to specialise in one aspect of a topic, master the topic, and teach the material to group members. Asking students to work together in a Jigsaw builds comprehension, encourages cooperation, and improves communication and problem-solving skills.

Jigsaw teaching

How to Use

  1. Prepare (class of 25)

Prepare five separate reading topics on the content you are teaching. Put students into groups of five. These groups will be the “home groups” of the jigsaw. Prepare a direction sheet to help students to answer questions and gather information on each topic.

  1. Introduce to Home Groups

Divide the class into their home groups. Explain the strategy and the topic of study. Tell students that they are going to be responsible for teaching that topic to the group they are sitting with now.

  1. Break into Expert Groups

Now students will leave their home group to sit with a group of students assigned to the same reading topic, their “expert group.” Ask students to begin reading to themselves, or have them take turns reading aloud. When students are finished reading, the group should discuss their topic, fill out their direction sheet, and decide what and how they should present to their home groups.

  1. Regroup with "Home Groups"

Students regroup with their home groups. Each student is responsible for teaching their reading topic to their home group.  All students are responsible for learning all material.  Determine how you’d like students to organize and summarize all the information they’ve learned.  For example, you can provide a graphic organizer or ask them to make a poster to share with the class.


When to Use

Use Jigsaw at any point in the lesson to structure meaningful conversation across a wide range of material. Use it when you are:

  • Building background knowledge on a unit of study
  • Conducting an author study before beginning a new novel
  • Learning about different viewpoints on a historical event or discovery
  • Focusing on complementary – or divergent – concepts in a unit of study
  • Reviewing different aspects of a unit of study to prepare for an assessment



Expert Group Panels

To work on students’ discussion and presentation techniques in a larger group setting, have the expert groups present to the class. In turn, the whole class is responsible for asking questions and learning about each topic.