The Jigsaw Teaching Method

Today, I want to talk about using the jigsaw cooperative learning method as one of your teaching strategies in your Physical Education program.

The Jigsaw teaching method is my favorite cooperative learning strategy I’ve been using for several years. I love how the method values every student’s contribution. In fact, each student has an important role and their participation is essential for the activity to be successful. So in other words, students get an opportunity to learn, lead and follow. I’m always telling my students, “learn how to be good leaders and learn how to be good followers.” Both are important roles for students to learn and experience. I want to share a few of my favorite ways to use the jigsaw teaching strategy.

Learn New Games with the Jigsaw Teaching Method

First for exploring different games. What I’ll do is I will assign students a home group, so if I have four major games that I want students to learn, then I need to break them up into groups of four. Once I have my groups of four established, I let students know that this is your home group.Next I have the students number off within their home groups. One, two, three and four. From here the students then breakout to that numbered group and now these groups become the expert groups. All of the number ones gather in a certain location and they are assigned a certain game that they are going to learn. All of the number twos gather and they are going to learn a separate game or activity. The threes and the fours, they follow the same process. The students then work in these groups to learn a new game or activity. They practice it. They learned the rules, the strategies, the boundary, the scoring. They practice the game, they play the game and then after a while or a different lesson, I have the students get back into their home groups. The following lessons would be having each person in that home group take turns teaching that new game or activity and playing it within those home groups. Therefore, each person gets an opportunity to lead and the other people on the team get an opportunity to follow. I’ve used this method with my older students when teaching new net games.

The Jigsaw Teaching Method for Dance

Another way to use the jigsaw teaching strategy is for cooperative learning within your dance unit. Again, I’ll assign students and break them out into their groups and then instead of learning a whole new game, the expert groups come up with a four or eight beat count of some sort of dance move or rhythm. So I love to use this and my dance unit or my drumming and rhythm unit. Those expert groups come up with some sort of pattern or dance move that they memorize and then when they return to their home groups, and again, I love using groups of four for this one, they each teach the new move or rhythm pattern that they’ve learned and decide what order they’re going to piece these together in. They then practice this performance and then we’ll have a class performance. A lot of times when first starting with this strategy, especially in your dance and rhythms unit, you would have all of the groups learn the moves in a certain order so that then they can perform as a class all together looking the same. With older students there are some an advanced extension of it. You might have the groups decide which order they want to put all the moves in and put their own creative spin on it.

Academic Concepts and Learning Rules with the Jigsaw Method

I’ve also used the jigsaw teaching strategy for content review of academic learning concepts. I might have a larger quiz coming up or some sort of, you know, expected learning targets to review with students and I’ll break them up into their home groups and then depending upon the number of things I want to review, then I’ll break them into those expert groups and all the number ones need to review a couple pieces of information or one main learning concept and the twos a different concept or rules of a game. Let’s say I’ve, I’ve used this even to review the game, the rules of tennis, and each group has one or two different rules to learn and then they come back together into their home groups and they’re responsible for reviewing all of those rules or, or those academic concepts.

Either way you use it, whether it’s in your teaching games unit, your dance drumming, rhythm unit, or review an academic content. The beauty of it is, is that the students are taking ownership of it, they’re participating in the activity and they’re held accountable and they get to participate in that learning. And that’s what we want from our students. We don’t want it to always be direct instruction. We want to have them participate. So I encourage you to, you know, look into that jigsaw teaching method to read blogs on it, to do some research and to have fun with this idea. Take the simple concepts I’ve talked about today in this podcast and give it a try in an upcoming unit. Thank you for listening. Thank you for teaching and I wish you a wonderful day. You can check out any of the resources that I mentioned in my podcast on my website

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