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Developing a Jigsaw Teaching Technique for Second Grade Lessons

written by: Pamela Martin • edited by: Jonathan Wylie • updated: 7/30/2014

Engaged students participating in a collaborative process for learning at a new depth of understanding is possible with a jigsaw teaching strategy. Second grade lessons become interactive, challenging, and self-reinforcing.

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    Many experts recommend waiting until third grade to implement a jigsaw teaching technique. Second grade lessons, however, can Jigsaw from Wikimedia Commons originator unknown easily include the strategy, although it may be necessary to modify it somewhat to fit the needs of the particular group of students.

    The jigsaw teaching strategy is a collaborative learning approach that allows students to become “experts" in one part of the lesson’s content and then to share it with a “home" group, while learning the rest of the content from the home group members, who have become experts in their own portion of the lesson.

    To implement the strategy quickly, give each student a puzzle piece. The shape of the piece will determine the expert group, while the color of the piece (and completed puzzle) will create the home groups. Expert groups now read and discuss content and then brainstorm ways to share the information. After that, home groups form, and each expert shares his or her portion of the information.

    All of the typical subjects lend themselves to this strategy. Second grade lessons in science and reading are often the easiest to begin with, however. These ideas should help teachers make a good beginning.

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    Life Cycle of the Butterfly

    Divide students into expert groups for each stage: egg, caterpillar (larva), chrysalis (pupa), and adult. Provide groups with a simple explanation of the characteristics of the assigned stage.

    Life Cycle of Flowering Plants

    Second graders are often expected to apply what they have learned about animal life cycles to plants, as well. Expert groups for seeds, plant, flowers, and fruit will work well with the jigsaw strategy.

    Story Analysis

    Help students understand the elements of a story by forming expert groups for characters, setting, problem, and solution of a story the class has read together. Alternatively, to reinforce sequencing in a plot, divide students into beginning, middle and end groups.

    Biography: George Washington

    Second grade social studies topics usually include historical leaders of the country. Form groups of experts to explore Washington’s childhood, time as commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Army, presidency, and time as a “gentleman farmer" after leaving the presidency.

    States of Matter

    Form expert groups for solids, liquids, and gases, and allow the groups to focus on the characteristics of each state.

    Editing Writing

    Divide students into expert groups for complete sentences, capitalization, and end punctuation. When team members return to home groups, each expert first reviews the lesson with the rest of the group and then practices it by checking the writing of each person for his or her area.


    Expert groups take on the dictionary definition, synonyms, antonyms, and a meaningful sentence to share with the home group members. For second grade, use “words that mean the same" and “opposites," if the other terms are too advanced for the particular class.

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    When developing a jigsaw teaching strategy, second grade lessons are a great way to promote cooperation and teamwork, engage every student in the lesson, and provide for a depth of understanding that is difficult to achieve when young learners try to master all of the material on their own.

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