Areas of Expertise


Adolescent Literacy

Reading Strategies

Strategy: Jigsaw.
Tierney, R. (1995) Reading Strategies and Practices. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Overview: Jigsaw is a team learning approach that has proven to be very effective in the middle and secondary school classrooms when used with expository text. Students are divided into heterogeneous groups of four. Each group member is responsible for becoming an "expert" on one section of the assigned material and then "teaching" it to the other members of the team.


  1. A unit of study to be covered in 2–3 days is selected by the teacher. It is then broken down into four parts, none requiring more than 30 minutes of reading. A short, challenging quiz is designed for each section of the unit.
  2. An "expert" sheet is prepared that lists the names of the preselected heterogeneous groups of four, the material to be read, and several purpose-setting questions.
  3. On the first day, the jigsaw concept and the topic to be studied are introduced. The students are grouped into teams and the "expert" sheets are handed out randomly to individuals.
  4. Students are directed first to read the sheets, then to read the section assigned to them.
  5. When the reading has been completed, the students meet for approximately 20 minutes with the other students from the other groups assigned to the same topic. During this time, the "expert" groups decide the most important points they have read, take notes on important ideas, and think of questions that might be on the quiz.
  6. On the second day, the students meet with their original group and report what they have learned. Discussions take place on the main points of the unit as well as the answers to the possible quiz questions.
  7. The quiz is given at the end of the second day or on the third day. Group members add up their points to get a group score.

Note: It is important that the reading material assigned is at appropriate instructional levels.


A teacher can introduce Jigsaw by saying:

"Today we are going to work in learning teams to study a unit on ______________. I have divided the reading material into four sections. Each of you will be responsible to become an expert on the section that is assigned to you. First of all, you will read your material. Then you will meet with members of other teams who have the same reading section and discuss it thoroughly. Next you will return to your team and teach them about your topic. Finally, I have prepared a quiz on all of the topics. You must work together so that each member of the team does well on the quiz. Your score will be the total score of your team."

After the students have finished the reading of their topic, the concept of "being an expert" can be introduced as follows:

"Now it is your chance to discuss your topic with others who read the same material. This is the time during which you will decide the important ideas, that you need to teach your team. You will each share information and take notes. Also try also to think of what questions might be asked on the quiz. You will then go back to your original group to discuss the entire unit and prepare for the quiz."


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