Giant Jigsaw Review

In my last post, I mentioned how I tried a giant jigsaw activity in my first-year astronomy class.

I figure the topic of the Copernican Revolution lends itself well to this type of activity, because there were 5 main scientists involved (easy to chunk!). Here is how it went:

Step 1: Signing up. This activity was for participation marks, so I needed names. So, I had the bright idea of using a Google spreadsheet. Unfortunately, it crashed because I was not aware of a limit on the number of people who could edit a document at once. So, I had to think fast and came up with a poll on our class website.

Step 2: Learning. Since there were ~260 students in attendance and we were in a huge lecture hall, I broke them into 5 large sections and assigned each section one of the scientists to learn about. They could do this individually or in groups, using their textbook. They had ~20 minutes for this.

Step 3:  Teaching. The idea here was to get students to form groups with at least one student from each of the 5 sections to teach each other about what they learned. Why? Because it’s been shown we retain 90% of what we TEACH as opposed to 5% from a lecture. Unfortunately, because a) we were running out of time and b) there were WAY more students in attendance than I anticipated (I was told I might get 100 showing up), I had to cut this part short and skip right to step 4.

Step 4: Consolidation. Here, I set up a Google Doc for students to log in and write notes about the scientist they learned about. This time I asked them to work in small groups and have 1 person log in per group, and that worked much better. The issue that came up here was inappropriate & silly comments and it got out hand. So, I cut it off earlier than expected. That being said, when I looked at the document this morning after all the comments were deleted by other students, the summary was actually quite good!


  • I need a better way for students to “sign up” for in-class activities so I can record participation marks
  • The learning part went well, though I would like more students to have worked with someone else
  • I will require students to LOG IN to Google Docs so they’re more accountable for their comments
  • I need a strategy to include the most important part of this activity – the teaching – without sinking a bunch of time into the chaos of forming groups with up to 300 students.

If you have any suggestions or comments, please let me know!


This entry was posted in assessment, astronomy, Reflection, teaching, technology, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Giant Jigsaw Review

  1. Pingback: Astronomy Week #7 | Joyous Understanding

  2. Pingback: Astronomy: Final Reflection | Joyous Understanding

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