If you’re having difficulty getting started with collaborative learning in the classroom, you might consider using the Jigsaw technique developed by Elliot Aronson. He and his students have developed and refined the technique since 1971. The technique relies on creating small groups and making individuals an “expert” within the group. Aronson and his students provide the following ten steps to implementing the collaborative strategy (www.jigsaw.org):
- Divide students in 5 or 6 person jigsaw groups. The group should be diverse and represent the classroom makeup.
- Appoint one group member as leader.
- Divide the day’s lesson into 5 or 6 segments (consistent with the number of individuals in the group). Each segment should stand alone.
- Assign each student one – and only one – segment to learn.
- Have students read their segment at least twice.
- Form temporary “expert groups” by have students assigned like segments form a group. Have students discuss what they have learned and have them prepare information to present to their original group members.
- Bring all experts back to their original groups.
- Have each student present his/her area of expertise to the original jigsaw group.
- Monitor the group dialogues.
- Have students develop their projects or take their assessment over the material.
As you prepare for next week, think about what content might lend itself to the jigsaw method. Give it a try. You and your students will be glad you did!