Puzzling over Jigsaw

Ever since I started teaching, I’ve been hearing and reading about this incredible teaching method called Jigsaw.

It sounds fairly straightforward when explained, but I’ve been struggling with how I could incorporate it into one of my own lessons—until my last Instructional Delivery class.

As I said, the concept is simple enough: You divide the class into groups of four and then assign each group member to research one component of a subject so that each group member becomes an “expert” in that part of the topic.

After a certain amount of time, each group member returns to his or her group and teaches the group what was learned individually. Once everyone has learned, the groups present on the key points of what has been learned as a whole.

It sounds straightforward, right? Well, I always figured it would take hours to implement jigsaw, so I never ventured to try it.

In Tuesday’s class, we did the whole thing in 60 minutes to learn four types of learning activities.

Our instructor made it look easy: she placed descriptions of four different learning activities on tables in four corners of the room and assigned each a letter (A, B, C and D); she also assigned each of us a letter and sent us to our corresponding corner.

In my group, I was sent to learn about using role playing as a learning activity. Dana was sent from his group and together we learned how to teach through role playing by reading a two-page document.

The three other members of my group each learned lecturing, panel debates and demonstrations, and then returned to our group to teach the rest of us what they had learned.

After each group had been briefed by each of its members, our instructor Elizabeth asked us to list for the class the top three dos and don’ts of each learning activity.

As a result, we all learned four different types of learning activities in a very short time. And the information may actually stick with us because we had to learn it ourselves as opposed to having the teacher teach it.

I imagine I could use jigsaw to teach just about anything that had at least four components. If the components were more numerous, I’d just create larger groups. Stay tuned for news of my first implementation of this fantastic teaching tool.

And that’s jigsaw.

About teachingteacher

Business communications instructor, journalist, corporate communications writer and media trainer ... and Masters Candidate M.Ad.Ed.
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