Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Using Jigsaw to Teach Nonfiction Genres

Jigsaw is a cooperative learning activity in which students become experts on a topic, and then teach their classmates about that topic. While Jigsaw sounds wonderful in theory, I've found the logistics to be somewhat difficult. It's tough to get everything together! And a Jigsaw that falls apart is not an effective learning activity.

Here are the things needed for a successful Jigsaw:
-The right topic. With intermediate learners, Jigsaw really doesn't work that well with deep, difficult topics. Instead, I've found that it works best to give students an overview of various items within a category--for example, nonfiction genres.
-Student directions. Students need to have a clear explanation of the activity.
-Expert sheets. While high school teachers probably do well with having students split up a reading, I've found that I need to give each of the expert groups an individual page with the content to be taught.
-Note-taking sheets. Students at this age don't have much experience with taking notes. By giving them note-taking sheets for each segment of the activity, I can focus their attention on what I want them to learn.
-Quiz. A quiz at the end helps students to realize that the goal in Jigsaw is to learn. I like to allow students to use notes to take the quiz, as this reinforces the reason for taking notes.
-Reflection. Students need to reflect on their two roles in Jigsaw--expert and learner.

With all that's needed, I have to admit that I am a little reluctant to use Jigsaw frequently. This year, however, I did have success with teaching nonfiction genres through the Jigsaw format. I posted the activity over at TeachersPayTeachers.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Resources for 6/17 Workshop

Thank you to all who attended the workshop on 6/17. What a great group! It was a pleasure to work with you and hear all of your great ideas.

Here are links to some of the activities that we used. Although you may need to register for TeachersPayTeachers or Slideshare, my materials are all free.

If any of you have related materials, I invite you to share! Simply post the items to Slideshare and share the link through the "Comments" section.

-Cause and Effect Card Match activity
-Text Structure Card Match activity
-Character Emotions skits (This is a larger file that contains a number of resources related to characters and inferences)
-Text Structure Readers Theatre scripts

I have a number of other activities that I plan to format and post throughout the summer--keep checking back for more links.

Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reviewing reading strategies

At the start of the school year, it's important to review reading strategies with intermediate students. While they have all learned about reading strategies, many of them still have trouble applying strategies in their everyday reading.

This past year, I worked with using academic words across the curriculum. Strategy is a great example of one of those words. An understanding of strategies is important in math, social studies, and science as well as in reading. As I looked at how to review reading strategies, then, I took advantage of the chance to teach the word strategy in its broader context. We tried out strategies in tic-tac-toe, talked about strategies in soccer, and discussed strategies in television shows like The Clone Wars. (Here's the blog post that I wrote at the time.)

I just posted a lesson set with the strategy lessons, reading strategy cards, and student reflection sheets over at TeachersPayTeachers.