1 Reading and listening jigsaw

Teodóra Király

Download the video here

Lesson plan

The possible dangers of meeting people online


Questions / instructions

What students do

How students work

What you need

15 min

"Summarize your story to your group mates, saying what mistakes these people have made."

One by one, students listen to each other talk about the story they have learnt about.

In groups of four, so that no two students with the same story are in the same group.


10 min

"Test what you have learned from the stories you have been told."

Students do the online quiz.

In pairs.

Hot Potatoes gap-fill and multiple choice exercises


General introduction

In this section of the class on Internet safety students learn about real stories of children who got into dangerous situations through careless online activities. It is done using the 'jigsaw' technique, which ensures that students do understand the text they are given. The idea is that each student has only one piece of the 'jigsaw' and only by putting them together will students in each group get the whole picture. Since quite a lot of responsibility rests on their shoulders, this activity enhances students' skimming, note-taking and summarizing skills, and it provides excellent oral fluency practice for them.

The activity step by step

  • 1. Students form four groups: groups 1, 2, 3 and 4.
  • 2. Each group is given a different set of text(s).
  • 3. Sitting two by two at the computers, working with people from the same group, students read or listen to their texts on various websites. They may take notes that they will use in step 4.
  • 4. Now students form four mixed groups: A, B, C and D, so that there is one person from group 1, one from group 2, one from group 3 and one from group 4 in each of these newly formed groups.
  • 5. Using their notes, students tell their groupmates what they have learnt. For everyone else in the group, it is new information.
  • 6. Finally, every student is tested on all texts, even the ones they have only been told about. This is done by a test generated by the teacher with the help of the Hot Potatoes software. See more about the software in the general comments section.

General advice

The jigsaw technique is useful with many kinds of texts, mostly narrative or expository. You can tailor the length of the texts to students' levels and the time available in class. Make sure the texts are equally challenging, otherwise the whole class will use time inefficiently waiting for one group to finish with their texts.

Students must be advised beforehand that their groups scores depend on how well they understand and retell the texts assigned to them.

Obviously, not all classes have 16 students. Other group setups can work, even if the numbers are not wholly dividable, but keep in mind that if you really are going to test students in the end, in the final mixed group phase it is better to have two people with the same text than to have a person missing from one group.

If there is no testing as a follow-up, you take the edge out of the activity and students pay less attention to understanding and retelling their texts, or listening to each other. When designing the test, I was trying to look for what students have learnt, and not what they missed. It is best to avoid nitty details and check whether they have the big picture.

It can be the case that your students are not good at taking notes and would just copy as much as they can from their texts. Preventing this might be a good idea, since if you allow them to use their notes in the second phase, when talking to their groupmates, then the speaking exercise loses some of its value.

Technical tips

Websites keep changing all the time. If you want to use this lesson with your class, just use the links provided here, but check at least a day before class whether they still work. If you want to do a different topic, you'll have to find the websites for yourself. In either case, you have to decide how to share the links with your students. If you choose to save the web pages on the school's server and work offline, you have to keep in mind that certain interactive pages might not work this way. In our lesson this might be the case with the listening part, for example.

Including a listening activity requires extra precaution. You have to check if there are enough computers that can play the sound in adequate quality. In our lesson, one laptop was enough for all four people who were assigned a listening task. They simply took their computer outside the classroom and played the file there - in order not to disturb the others, who were mostly reading silently.

The issue above concerns hardware, but you might also face software problems if the computers you use do not have the software needed to play a file. For example you have Windows Media Player but the file you want students to work with only runs only on Real Player. If you are lucky, all your computers will at least have the same set of software so you won't find yourself with six computers that have Real Player and six that don't. You are also lucky if you have a technical assistant who will install the software you need on every computer. Having warned you about all these issues, I have to admit I don't expect these problems to come up in many Hungarian high schools, so don't shy away from including a listening task - it is a rather neglected skill, and most students appreciate the opportunity of enjoying an audio file once in a while.

For the final, testing part of the activity, you will need a browser of some kind: Opera, Mozilla, Firefox, Explorer, etc. for the Hot Potatoes files. The ones in this lesson are actually separate pages linked together so students only need to open the first one. The first big section includes multiple choice questions, the second is a cloze-test format. The two sections are in two strikingly different colour layouts so the teacher can easily see which phase the students are working on.

If you use Hot Potatoes exercises for testing, keep in mind that students can use the "Hint" buttons for help if you included them when creating the file. (The version in the video has them.) This leaves room to some 'cheating', so do not form your evaluation based solely on the scores your students get in these exercises, unless you pick students that you keep an eye on all the while they are doing the quiz.

Preparation for class

First of all see the Technical tips section above on what you have to check before class.

In case of a content-based lesson, you know best what content suits your students so you can't get around doing a search on the topic personally. This is worth the time. Take into account the style, trustworthiness, length and linguistic level of the text. Your students will benefit a lot from having web pages selected especially for them. With this activity, I tried to look for personal stories that illustrate different kinds of situations. Sometimes I assigned two shorter tests for one group instead of one longer one.

Once you have the texts assigned to the different groups, it is best to link them so it is obvious for each group which link they have to follow. On our Nicenet page I gave the links the following names: Jigsaw reading for group 1, Jigsaw reading for group 2, etc.

The following checklist might be useful.

  • 1. Decide topic.
  • 2. Find texts or check the pages used in this lesson.
  • 3. Decide on the groupings.
  • 4. Create test questions based on the texts.
  • 5. Create the Hot Potatoes exercises.
  • 6. Decide how you will share the links.
  • 7. Link the texts and the quiz exercises.


As far as testing goes, obviously you can choose a paper-based or an oral version as these might be more precise assessment tools, although less fun to do.

You decide what weight you give to the scores. Also, you can choose to give the same score/grade to every member of a mixed group or evaluate them individually. Team work is more serious with the former version.

You might easily spend a whole 45-minute lesson with this exercise.

You may require students to take notes instead of making it optional, especially if you think that without notes they are unlikely to do a good job of sharing with their groupmates what they have learnt.

Students may or may not be allowed to take notes while doing their own reading/listening, while they are listening to each other or while they are doing the quiz. Decide based on how difficult the texts are for the students.

In this lesson, there were two students sitting by one computer, reading the same pages, but if you have enough computers, students can work individually in this phase.


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