The Jigsaw strategy is designed to have students work collaboratively to understand content. Students become experts in a specific aspect of the reading and then work with their small group to share their knowledge and learn from their peers. The content is chunked so that one student is reading one section/ topic and working with others who are reading the same text/content to deepen their understanding, before returning to their small group to bring the different sections together. This approach reduces the amount of reading a student might be expected to do on their own, enables them to confirm their understanding of what they read with ‘like’ peers, and then returns students to  their ‘home’ group to bring the different sections together. 


  1. Identify the reading material(s) to be used for the activity. The reading needs to contain enough content to be able to be chunked for 3-5 different readings.
  2. Assign students to home groups and assign students to different reading groups so that each home group has a  representative for each reading group. This group can be randomly assigned but should contain a variety of levels of readers.
  3. Provide students with a reading strategy that will prepare them to participate in a discussion of their reading. Many times  teachers will provide a set of text codes and margin note expectations that students use to identify evidence for the reading group conversations. Provide students the overall process they will be using so they are prepared to be successful at each step along the way. Allow students time to read and annotate the reading.
  4. Once the active reading time has been completed, have students break into ‘like’ groups to discuss the content they read. Providing students with clear expectations and guiding questions for the conversation will enable them to stay on task and prepare for the next step.
  5. Students return to their home groups to share what they learned, listen to their peers, and discuss the overall main idea of the reading. Again, clear expectations for what and how students will share enables the dialogue to be rigorous and more effective. Providing an order and structure for the discussion, setting expectations for probing questions, and using paraphrasing helps the groups work together to deepen understanding.



  • What were the key components of your reading?
  • How do these pieces/parts fit together?
  • I hear you saying…. OR How does that fit with…
  • What is the main theme from the whole set of readings?
  • Review norms for the activity in advance and have students work together to brainstorm how they will  exhibit the norms in this activity. It may be helpful to  identify specific behaviors if you are explicitly developing student capacity (e.g., identifying details, making  connections through paraphrasing, etc.).
  • To hold students accountable and provide the teacher a way to monitor understanding and correctness, have them create anchor charts in their expert groups.
  • Have 2-3 students work together in teaching groups to teach their content to a slightly larger rainbow or ‘home’ group. This allows for students to extend the thinking of another student rather than being the sole expert in a group.
  • While monitoring each expert group, be sure to ask clarifying questions to help prepare students to present their information effectively when they return to their initial ‘home’ group.



Provide students with different primary and secondary sources they can use to situate their reading and provide greater context to the content.


Divide different artistic genres (visual, performing, architecture, etc.) of a time period. Home groups share their expertise of the artistic genre and like groups think about what similarities and differences they can make between the genres of the time period.


Students work in research groups to explore related topics and come back together to share their findings, discuss implications, similarities and differences.


Students ‘read’ different representations or problems and become familiar with their example. The home group then shares their example and the overarching conversation is about how the problems/representations are similar/different.