Jigsaw activities are the ones that make students cooperate to succeed. The students are traditionally divided into groups or pairs and the task is split up between them correspondingly. It forces students to communicate with each other more and ensures that all students are equally involved in the activity. In this article, we are going to share some jigsaw activities that you can use in your classes.
Developing reading skills
In case we develop students’ reading skills, the students should read different parts of the text and do the comprehension task together. For example, they can do the following activities:
- Students in a group can be given the text, divided into 3-5 parts (depending on the number of students in a group), and students should read own part and identify the correct order of the passages they have, asking each other questions (e.g. if the text is about daily routine of a person, they should put the activities in the logical order, asking “Who knows, what does a character do in the morning?” or simpler: “What does he\she do in the afternoon?”). In the picture below there is an example of text that can be easily printed by a teacher and cut into several parts. Students get their parts, read them, without showing it to each other, put the text parts in the correct order and do the comprehension task below.
Divide students in groups 4 or 5. One person from each group reads some text (there should be different texts for different groups) for 3 minutes. Then, students who read the texts should retell the text to their group mates in as many details as possible in 2-3 minutes. Group mates can ask questions to understand the topic better. Then another person from the group takes the text as support (there can be some significant information underlined or highlighted by the first reader) and goes to another group to inform them on the topic. He\she should retell the information to the next group without reading it again on his\her own. Then another person from the second group goes to the next group. So, in up to 20 minutes the whole class will know the information from all the passages. You can ask comprehension questions to all 4-5 texts to the whole class. It is a quick way to familiarize students with a large amount of information in a short time.
- Divide students into groups. Each person in a group reads his/her own part of the text and do the tasks. Then students with the same texts sit together (forming an ‘expert’ group), compare answers to the tasks and discuss the part of the text. As the students work, the teacher walks from group to group to monitor their progress and to provide help when needed. The students meet with their home-base groups to share their expertise.
Developing listening skills
In case we develop students’ listening skills, the students should listen to different parts of the text or different passages and do the comprehension task together or retell it to each other.
- The students can listen to different parts of the audio. For example, students in groups of three or four listen to different arguments for and against being a vegetarian. The first group listens to one argument in favour of being a vegetarian, the next group one argument against and so on. Then they should answer comprehension questions. At this stage, they do not express own opinion. After that students can be regrouped so that there are students who listened to different arguments, and they discuss the issue again, this time expressing own opinion.
- Another type of jigsaw activity for listening is when students listen to the same recording but answer different questions. Prepare two sets of questions, divide students into two groups (students should have the same questions in one group), play the recording and ask to answer the questions. Then students discuss the answers in their group. After that pair students with another group (another group had other questions and have other details) and make them reconstruct the story with as many details as possible.
Developing writing skills
You can use jigsaw activities when teaching your students how to write. For example, students are divided into several small groups. Each group receives 2-3 pictures that are a part of a big story. They should describe these pictures in the written form in as many details as possible. Then the students are regrouped and they should put their written passages in the logically correct order.
Similarly, students can be given to do research on a certain topic, which is split into small pieces, and write a report at home. Then they discuss the topic in class and share the information they have found. For example, they can do the research about Great Britain (and students do the research about England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) or about the USA (history, geography, politics, etc.), or even famous people, for instance, William Shakespeare (background, early years, theaters, literatures, etc.).
Jigsaw activities can transform listening, reading or writing exercises into speaking ones. Students learn how to cooperate and collaborate with each other and gain proficiency in communicating with each other. Let’s do our best to assist our students!