Reading Jigsaws

Today I tried out a reading jigsaw activity in my classes.  It worked well in two of my classes, but the third class would not stay quiet and listen long enough to explain the rules.  In the class, the students just took notes on their own for the class period.  I was happy how it turned out for the two classes that participated, because everyone was very focused and did good work.

The way the lesson worked was each table was assigned a section of ready (about two pages).  They read and took Cornell notes for their section individually.  During this time they came up with 2-4 questions about their section and then summarize the section.  Each group was given a few minutes to share their notes, including their summary and questions.  As a group, they decided what information was important to share and what questions assessed understanding of their sections.

Tables were then split up and the jigsaw presentation began.  Students shared their questions with the group while the group wrote those questions down.  Through the presentation, students answered these questions.  In the end, each student had a paper with questions from each section written and answered.  These questions and their notes for their section were collected to be graded.  At the end of the activity students were called on rapidly to share what they learned from the whole activity with the rest of the class.

During this activity, one student had some difficulty with taking notes so I worked with that student one on one while the rest of the class worked.  I was happy that students had work to do that kept them focused long enough for me to give more attention to students who needed it in my class.  In my last class, students all took notes silently because they could not be quiet long enough to hear the directions for the jigsaw.  While students worked, I sat down with three students who were having difficulty getting meaning out of the text book.  We worked well together, but didn’t get that far in the material.  Towards the end the rest of the class started to lose focus and did not work much.  I chose to let them be off task and not get work done while I worked with students who were focused and wanted to learn.

I wish I had more opportunity to try interesting practices with my more difficult class because it would help the class become more engaging and fun.  Unfortunately they don’t behave enough to participate and utilize the extra freedom.  Hopefully I can work on this more and let them see how being better behaved and listening to instructions can help them do less work and have more fun in class.

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