With Common Core, activities like jigsaw will provide academically weak students with multiple productive opportunities to interact with informational/non-fiction text. If teachers want students to become independent learners, they must provide students with ample activities to support them in navigating complex texts.
Jigsaw has as many variations as there are teachers who use it. One common variation involves home groups and expert groups. Home groups are created by just having students count off from 1-6. Then all like numbers (ex. all the 1s, 2s, etc.) form home groups. The teacher then numbers off students in the groups (1-6). At that point, all like numbers move to form new groups (they will return to home groups after they do the jigsaw). The teacher then assigns key chunks of the reading material to each expert group. By having students work in small groups, anxiety for a struggling student drops. S/he collaborates with fellow students within a safe peer group where questions can be asked and answered with no sense of embarrassment. In this setting, poor readers are in groups of varying literacy. Team spirit must be in play here as the group analyzes the text. This leads to every student becoming an expert in the content. Students then return to their home groups and each member teaches the others the content that they studied in their expert groups.
Here is a classroom doing jigsaw. Please note that though the video shows an elementary class doing jigsaw, it can be done at any grade level right up to professional development sessions for teachers:)
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