Jigsaw Fun

My school district was one of the few who had school on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.  We teachers dreaded those two days of trying to keep wild and excited teenagers on task. We had to seriously strategize in order to prevent those two days from being a waste.

Looking at what we needed to accomplish, I decided to do a Jigsaw brainstorming activity.  Here’s the set-up:

1. Label each table (or grouping of desks) with a color, shape and number. (I had 5 groups)

2. Assign each color a topic to brainstorm.

3. Group the students (I have sorting pencils that can be bought here).

4. Let the fun begin!

I set up before school and then my students and I headed to one of my school’s newly furnished collaboration spaces.  As they entered, each student received a sorting pencil and sat by color.  Each color group received a different assignment and had 10 minutes to complete it.  After 10 minutes, students regrouped by shape and presented their information to their new groups.  After 15 minutes, they moved to a number group to fill in any gaps by brainstorming or discussing the topics they lacked.  Finally, we returned to the classroom to debrief.

The activity took the entire class period, and many students openly admitted that it was a fun activity :).   While I am a major advocate for the language lab and love doing random groupings on there, it is nice to mix things up and get students moving around.  The sorting pencils made it impossible for people to be grouped together more than once–which made it obvious when students tried to cheat the system.  Fortunately, I only had a few who tried to do that :).

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