Spotlight on Strategies



The jigsaw strategy is a group activity in which a teacher creates a number of groups, and then each group is given part of a lesson, unit, or topic. Each student is part of a "home" group. The home groups then break apart, so that each group has one member from each home group. The easiest way to do this is usually name or number groups. The group then becomes "experts" on the topic they were given by discussing, questioning, reading, and writing down ideas. The strategy can be used in a variety of capacities, but it can be a powerful tool for activating prior knowledge in the classroom and introducing content. It allows students to have discussions and share with each other, but still maintains a high level of personal responsibility. After each group meets, they return to their home group. Each member disperses the information they learned in their expert group, so that the entire home group is exposed to information from each "expert group". A jigsaw activity can also be a great way to review content from a chapter or unit prior to an assessment or project.


This strategy could be used across subject areas in order to introduce content. A great way to use it would be to introduce a social studies lesson on types of communities. Using their text and a classroom computer, students will gather information about their topic rural, suburban, and urban communities. They will have to present at least 4 facts about their community, provide a visual aid to show the other groups, and come up with one example of that type of community. For example, a student will go back to their home group with a picture drawn of a cityscape, 4 written sentences about an urban area, and the example of New York City written down as a urban community.

1. The teacher will assign home teams of 3. Each student within the group will be assigned a number 1-4
2. Each home group area will be assigned a community.
3. Have students move to “expert” groups. 1s move to rural community group, 2s move to suburban community group, and 3s move to urban community group.
4. Once together, “expert” groups will read, discuss and research to come up with their visual aid, 4 facts, and example to explain their topic when they get back to their home group.
5. Students return to their home group and take turns teaching the members of their home group about what they learned and created in their expert group. In our social studies journals, each member of the home team will record what they learned about the three types of communities.
6. Finally, the class will take part in a group discussion in which we review each type of community, and check to make sure we have enough information recorded in our journals to refer to as notes later in the chapter. We will also watch a video as a whole group about the three communities. We will also take time to share pictures or other visual aids created by the groups for each community, by sorting them into the three categories and displaying them on the whiteboard.

Urban, Suburban, & Rural


The following video and link provide some great tips and examples we can use to help implement the jigsaw strategy in classrooms. I would love to take the opportunity to invite other educators to use this technique, no matter what grade level! This strategy might seem to be a little complicated when you look at the "steps", but it is a wonderful tool to foster a great collaborative work environment for our students to learn in. It will require organization and teacher monitoring to be successful (especially in those younger grades!), but students will love this activity. Anytime they think they are "in charge", or are responsible for teaching someone, my students love it. This makes them responsible for their own learning, as well as others. It gives all our students the chance to be the teacher for at least a little bit of time in the day!

I saw this meme to the right on Bookriot (regarding a reading challenge), but I found it funny and fitting. Try out this strategy! Sometimes we have to just go for it and try new things with our students!


(2004). Retrieved from

Aronson, E. (2004). The jigsaw classroom in 10 easy steps. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from

Instructional strategies online - jigsaw. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2014, from

Jigsaw. (2012, February 16). Retrieved July 20, 2014, from

The Jigsaw Classroom: Tips on Implementation. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2014, from

La' James International College nyc trip. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2014, from

Nettler, J. (2013, February 25). The suburbs - a community of brick suburban homes on a cloudy summer day. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from

Urban, Suburban, & Rural. (2009, April 29). Retrieved July 20, 2014, from