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P*The Arithmetic of Jigsaw. Geoff Petty
How do you arrange a class of a given number in a jigsaw?
The following diagrams try to show the alternatives visually. They seem complicated at first, but if you look at them for a few minutes you will begin to get the hang of them. If you are good at algebra you may be able to glance at the diagrams and then go straight to the algebraic approach at the end of this paper.
A brief summary of how jigsaw works.
Initially the class work in subtopic learning groups. These study one section of the topic, or look at the material through one pair of spectacles. They become experts in this subtopic.
Then each sub=topic group member is given a number: 1, 2, 3, etc.
Then all the 1s go into one group, all the 2s into another group and so on. There is then one expert from each subtopic in each new group. These new groups are called teaching groups , and students teach other their expert topic, and then preferably go on to do combined tasks as a whole group. See the handout on Jigsaw, or 25 Ways For Teaching Without Talking for the detail.
Many people think you can only do jigsaw with 4X4 = 16 or 5X5 = 25 students etc. This is not the case. You can do jigsaw with any number of students and pretty well any number of subtopics. The diagrams below represent the approach visually, but there is a more general algebraic explanation at the end of the paper.
The following diagams assume there are four subtopics but the arguments can obviously be adapted for any number of subtopics.
Help! I have a few too many students to do the jigsaw I want!
E.g. I want to use four groups of three students which needs 12 students but I have 14.
This doesnt matter. Make two subtopic groups bigger by one student. Dont say who is the extra student. When it comes to numbering students you pair up two students in each of the bigger groups to work together. Do this just before creating the teaching groups (not earlier), to ensure one of the pair doesnt become a passenger. Be unpredictable about who you pair up.
This is called Pairing up.
Help! I am one or two students short of the jigsaw groupings I want!
E.g. I want to use five groups of four students which needs 20 students but I only have 18.
This doesnt matter either. Let the subtopic groups work with only 3 students. When the teaching groups are formed two of them will be down by one member, and by one subtopic. You can visit these two groups and do the teaching for these groups yourself.
This is called substituting.
How to arrange jigsaw groups for any size class
The following examples assume four subtopic groups. Similar approaches work for two, three, five etc subtopic groups.
4 pairs of students becomes a jigsawed 2 sets of 4 students ( Works for 8 , 16, etc)
4 sets of 3 students becomes a jigsawed 3 sets of 4 students ( Works for 12, 24, etc)
4 sets of 4 students becomes a jigsawed 4 sets of 4 students (Works for 16, 32, etc)
Four groups of four study four initial subtopics, then number themselves 1, 2, 3, or 4. Then new groups are formed with all the 1s together, all the 2s together and so on. The new groups have one expert from each original topic.
In the diagram below each number is a student, and each box is a group.
4 sets of 5 students, becomes a jigsawed 5 sets of 4 students (Works for 20, 40, etc)
Dealing with larger classes by splitting the group.
Suppose you have 36 students and four subtopics. If you have four subtopics this means each subtopic group will contain 9 students. But a group of nine is unlikely to work productively. What can you do?
You could split each group of 9 into a 5 and a 4. This means in effect you are using:
4 groups of 5 students (5x4) = 20
Plus
4 groups of 4 students (4x4) = 16
This will accommodate your 36 students. The class must be split into a 20 and a 16, and Students must not switch between these two sections during the jigsaw! The best way of doing this is to get the 20 (4 groups of 5) to number themselves 1,2 3,4, 5, and the 16 (four groups of 4) to number themselves 6, 7, 8, 9.
The general principles for relatively small classes are:
You must start with the same number of subtopic groups as you have subtopics.
Students must number themselves and go to the teaching group that has their number.
For example suppose I have 15 students and three subtopics. I must have three subtopic groups. Each of these will have five students of course. They number themselves 1 to 3, and will then jigsaw to three groups, each with five students.
Suppose instead I have 16 students and three subtopics then again I have three subtopic groups. But this gives two groups of five and one of six. You must pair up two students in the larger group. See pairing up above.
How do I calculate what jigsaw grouping to use?
If you make use of the following approach you can accommodate almost any group size for your given number of subtopics. I will describe the approach with two examples, at the end is an algebraic description of the approach.
Suppose you have 21 students and 4 subtopics
First divide the number of students by the number of subtopics: (This will give you the number of students in each subtopic group)
21 = 5 (remainder 1)
4
You will need four groups of 5. Because there is a remainder of 1, one of the four groups will be a 6. You will need to pair up two students in this group just before the teaching groups are formed. (See pairing up above)
The four groups of five will jigsaw to become five groups of four. See the last diagram above. There is always this symmetry, so if you start with six groups of four you will end up with four groups of six for example.
Summary: The Algebraic approach to decide groupings
You may not need what follows if you are usually dealing with groups less than about 20.
If you cant understand what follows the above descriptions will probably work better for you.
Help! I have a remainder when I divide N by X.
Doesnt matter!. Let some subtopic groups be one student bigger than the others. Then pair students up in these larger subtopic groups. For example if the remainder is two, you will have two subtopic groups that are one bigger than the others. Pair up two students in each of these groups and let them share the tasks.
This pairing up strategy will always work, whatever the remainder.
Alternatively, if the remainder is large, and you want to avoid pairing up too many students then consider the following:
Again allow some of your subtopic groups to be one larger than the others. Number off and form teaching groups in the usual way. You will find that some of the teaching groups are one expert short. You can take the place of these missing experts by visiting these groups in turn.
PAGE
PAGE 35
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
1 1 1 1
2 2 2 2
3 3 3 3
4 4 4 4
4 4 4 4
3 3 3 3
2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
5 5 5 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
Subtopic learning groups
Sub topic A
Teaching groups
Subtopic learning groups
2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
1 2
1 2
3 3 3 3
Teaching groups
Teaching groups
Subtopic learning groups
2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
1 2 3
1 2 3
1 2 3
1 2 3
Teaching groups
Subtopic learning groups
1 2
1 2
Sub topic B
Sub topic C
Sub topic D
If you have N students and X subtopics then:
You must start with X groups, (with N/X students in each group.)
These then jigsaw to N/X groups (with X students in each group.)
Obviously N>X. Ideally N>2X so all groups have at least two students.
Subtopic A
Subtopic B
Subtopic C
Subtopic D
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