Activity Corner: Jigsaw Reading

(I thought it might be helpful to readers and myself if I described some of my favorite activities from time to time. See all my ESL Activity Corner posts here.)

"Scattered puzzle pieces next to solved fragment" by Horia Varlan on Flickr
“Scattered puzzle pieces next to solved fragment” by Horia Varlan on Flickr

In Jigsaw Reading, students read different sections of the materials and then share their knowledge with one another.  Their bits of expertise come together like the pieces of a puzzle.

In phase one, students to do a small amount of reading with a very high level of comprehension.  Different groups of students read different materials.  Each group becomes an expert on its single part of the materials.

In phase two, students make new groups and tell each other about their own sections.  This way, everybody learns about all of the materials.

Jigsaw Readings are a great way to combine reading with listening, speaking, and summarizing.  They can also make a great segue into higher-level learning tasks such as analyzing, evaluating, and even creating.


  • Divide up the information you’d like your students to have.
    (i.e. different but related readings, or sections of one long reading)
  • Divide the students into groups.  Give one section of information to each group.
  • Have the students in each group work together to thoroughly understand the information.  Be sure to check for comprehension.
  • Make new groups.  There should be at least one expert for each section in each new group.
  • The students take turns teaching the others about their sections.
  • Check for comprehension and better yet, use extension activities to further explore the topic.

Example (from Level 3):

I selected four short readings for the class – only a couple of paragraphs long each.  Each story was related to the theme (Personal Goals), but each one was quite different.

The class made four groups.  Group #1 received Reading #1, Group #2 received Reading #2, etc.  The students read their stories.  They all discussed their stories within their groups and answered the same three basic comprehension questions (provided on the board).  Thus the students in Group #1 became experts on Reading #1, and so on.

After checking their comprehension questions and asking for points of confusion, I felt satisfied that they could each represent his/her story to others.  Within each group, we named Student A, B, C, and D (there were 15 students, so I was able to fill in as the last Student D).  We then grouped the students by letter.  Our new groups had one representative with knowledge of each story.

Each student had about 2 minutes in which to tell the others in his/her group about the story.  Many students wanted to read the story to their group, but I encouraged them to talk about the comprehension questions instead (we’ll get into summarizing soon – this was an intro to that skill).

Then, once everyone had knowledge of every story, I asked them in their groups to pick which goal from the readings was the most important.  This was difficult and very interesting because all of the goals had merit.  The students formed their opinions, explained their reasoning, and tried to convince each other, both in their small groups and as a whole class.

Related Posts:


You’re reading Activity Corner: Jigsaw Reading, originally posted at

2 thoughts on “Activity Corner: Jigsaw Reading

  1. This is a fantastic idea that I am going to use in my discussion sections sometime this semester, once we start getting into primary source readings (which are pretty dense and hard to extract information from). Yay!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s