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!

Reflection:

- 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!

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