by Lindsay Merritt with Karen Wood and Thomas DeVere Wolsey
This is the second in a three-part series exploring conversation and collaboration opportunities. Lindsay Merritt describes, in the post below, how she uses jigsaw and a graffiti wall to promote academic discussions in her classes.
In my classroom, I use the jigsaw strategy to help my students “own” their work and their learning. I started to use jigsaw (e.g., Aronson, 2000) because I found that often when I presented a lesson students looked at me blankly because they were overwhelmed by too much teacher talk, or my directions were not clear. When I began using the jigsaw process, students become the “experts” in their topics, and had the opportunity to share, discuss, and collaborate with their classmates. My role became one of planning, monitoring, guiding instruction, and having the pleasure of seeing first-hand the “ah ha” moments of my students’ learning.
My class has been studying Africa through our social studies curriculum. We are learning that Africa is not a country, but a continent made up of many different countries and cultures. I could not think of a better way to share this information than through the jigsaw strategy. Students worked in five groups, one for each of the regions of Africa (east, south, north, west, and central). Their job was to look through the informational text, Hands on Africa (Merrill, 2000) and become experts on their region’s culture, location, geography, and countries within. As they worked I was able to hear them reading together, discussing, and then writing in-depth sentences focusing on these key areas. Every student was engaged and participating. This process afforded me a perfect opportunity to continually assess their learning.
I then selected one student from each region to form a larger group to share their information. Students made sure to present their information clearly so that their classmates could understand. The students took their “expert” roles seriously and even started making connections among the regions. Once they finished sharing they went back to their home groups to create a visual display of their readings to put on the Africa graffiti wall. When they wall display was ready, the students had five minutes to view the wall and write down any new information or connections they could make to the information we were learning in the unit. I was thrilled to see my students so excited about the learning process and truly taking ownership for their learning.
In this video, Lindsay describes the jigsaw and graffiti wall approach:
Digital tools we have used to build on jigsaw and graffiti wall approaches include:
Aronson, E. (2000, May/June). Nobody left to hate. The Humanist, 60(3), 17-21.
Merrill, Y. Y. (2000). Hands on Africa: Art activities for all ages. Salt Lake City, UT: Kits Publishing.
Wolsey, T.D., Wood, K., & Lapp, D. (in press). Conversation, collaboration, and the Common Core: Strategies for learning together. IRA e-ssentials series: What’s New?Newark, DE :International Reading Association.
About the contributors:
Lindsay Merritt teaches 3rd-grade at Hope Academy in Cabarrus County, North Carolina
Karen Wood is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.