There are only so many times you can do Jeopardy and Bingo games to review topics. Plus, these games can be competitive, not collaborative. If you are looking for a way to review and foster collaboration, the jigsaw technique is a good one. The technique dates back to 1971 by Elliot Aronson. It was originally intended to help weaken racial cliques in classrooms. Research showed some success with this goal.

Let’s use Factoring as a sample topic. Suppose you have several techniques you want your students to review for fluency: 5 groups are created (this number can vary). The first will review only factoring out a GCF and factoring out the opposite of the GCF (AKA factoring out a negative), the second factoring by grouping, the third differences of squares and perfect square trinomials, the fourth trinomials with lead coefficient 1, the fifth trinomials with lead coefficient not one. If you do sums and differences of cubes, they can be an additional group or the above can be reworked to accommodate the methods your class focused on. Each group will fill in a prepared handout on their topic. This should include tips for recognizing problems that use the technique and sample problems using the technique. The group members become “experts” at their assigned method.

After an appropriate amount of time, shuffle and reform the groups, placing one “expert” on each aspect of the topic on each team. We now create new 5-member groups with one expert from each previous group. So the new group will have one person who was in group 1, one from group 2, etc. They will now have a new sheet to fill in that includes all methods. With each group having an “expert” to lead the conversation and provide information for each technique.

The jigsaw technique maximizes conversation between several classmates in one activity, since groups switch. The instructor can use care in placing students in expert groups that fit their skill level, to set students up for success when the reconvene with new classmates to function as an expert.

Get started with the basics on this video.