The Jigsaw strategy allows all readers to become experts on a text or Newsela Text Set and then teach and learn from others in cooperative groups. First, a student becomes an expert on one text. Then, the student joins a second group where each member is an expert on a different text. Students learn from one another and use their shared knowledge to gain a deeper understanding of content. This strategy can be used to help students build background knowledge, dive deeper into the curriculum efficiently, and/or to discover a variety of contexts or perspectives on a topic. The jigsaw strategy engages all students and allows each member to play a valuable role in the group's learning experience.
Teacher Preparation and Planning:
Assign a Newsela Text Set related to a common curricular topic. Provide at least 2-3 more articles than the number of group members to ensure student choice.
Select a quotation, statement, or question that is related to the overarching theme or central idea of the Text Set that students will read.
Break students into groups.
Because the Newsela texts are differentiated by reading level for each student, there is no need to level the groups (as long as the articles assigned have an appropriate lexile range for your student population).
While students are sitting in their home groups, introduce a quote, statement, or question that is related to the overarching theme or central idea of the Text Set.
For example, if students were reading about privacy infringements, teachers could display Jonathan Sacks' quote: "Technology gives us power, but it does not and cannot tell us how to use that power.”
Students discuss this quote, statement, or question as a group, relying on background knowledge, and scribe their individual thoughts on the outside of the jigsaw graphic organizer (see resource section below).
Present the list of articles to each group of students. The list of articles can be displayed on paper, projected in the front of the classroom, or assigned through a Newsela Text Set. (Teachers without a PRO membership could share the link to the Text Set with students.) Each student selects one article to read that no one else in the group is reading.
Provide directions to students to encourage active reading strategies such as annotating the text as they read. An example is located in the resources section below.
Students read their selected article independently, adjusting the lexile level as needed.
Have students meet with classmates that read the same article and discuss what they've learned using their annotations as a guide.
While the specific details of each article may vary slightly based on the lexile level, the overall key ideas will remain consistent. Sharing some of the unique features of each lexile level with the rest of the expert group will enhance the understanding of all participants.
Have students discuss how the article they read relates to the big idea or question presented at the beginning of class and identify the most important two or three key details they will share with their home groups.
Instruct students to return to their home groups and write the key pieces of information they plan to discuss on the graphic organizer (see example below in the resource section) in the middle section.
Instruct students to take turns presenting the information from each of their articles and then work together to create a response to the overarching question/quote/statement and write this response in the center of the graphic organizer.
Have each home group share their responses with the class as a whole and then connect this work to the overall context of the curriculum.
Can technology go too far?
Jigsaw: Civil Rights Activists
The Causes and Results of Gene Mutation
Have each member of the home group select a different research topic based on their jigsaw reading.
Develop a research sheet or graphic organizer to guide students' individual research:
For example, students who are researching the privacy policies of apps can use the privacy app research sheet (in resource section below).
This activity could also be a jigsaw activity where students researching the same topic could work together.
Students share what they have learned with their home group.
Because all students are able to select an appropriate lexile for the article, this activity is naturally differentiated by reading level. Students with learning disabilities that affect their processing or executive functioning will benefit further by writing down notes on the article before presenting to their home group. This option can be provided to all students in the classroom. Many students of all learning abilities will benefit from more carefully planning their ideas before presenting to their home groups.
Students who struggle with executive functioning, processing disorders, and/or anxiety will benefit from filling out a graphic organizer like the one included in the resource section below before presenting to the home group. This additional step will help these students (and all students) to slow down the process, build confidence, and organize their thoughts.
After students complete the reading activity, hand out the Present to Group Planning Sheet (see resource section below).
Students can determine the most important details as a group and then write them down on the sheet.
Finally, students can determine how their article relates to the big idea or question and fill in that section at the bottom of the sheet.
If necessary, an adult or group member can scribe the responses on one sheet and then the teacher can provide copies to each group member before they present the information to their home groups during the next class period.
How can teachers help students to make a fair and equitable decision if more than one student from a home group wants to read the same article?
Students who feel uncomfortable talking in a group setting may also benefit from filling out the Present to Group Planning Sheet (in the resources section below). Providing this as an option or asking the student to share his/her ideas with you (or a partner) first might help to ease possible discomfort.
Making a rule that the person who writes the group's idea needs to be different than the person who shares the idea with the class will provide more leadership opportunities throughout each group. You may even consider making up role cards (dependent on the number of group members and your particular activity) to ensure that all group members equally participate.
Consider setting a timer for each expert to explain their article's key ideas to their home group. This will ensure that all articles are fully explained and all group members have an equal amount of time. You could also set up guidelines for presenting (see resources below) to help facilitate this activity.