Puzzling Out Information: A Jigsaw Reading

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SWBAT identify strong and thorough textual details about the historical background of The Enlightenment, crafting generalizations about the period through jigsaw reading and reporting.

Big Idea

Like the greatest thinkers of the The Enlightenment sought to understand the world around them, students craft a whole understanding of the era's historical context

An Enlightened Unit: Unit Introduction

It's The Anniversary of the United States Air Force

3 minutes

We open class with an introduction to class by noting, "It's the (66th) anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Air Force. 'But wait!' you say, 'What about all of those movies from World War II?'" I then point out that prior to 1947, what is today the Air Force was a part of the Army known as the "Army Air Corps," and while some would call it the "air forces," it was in 1947 that it became it's own branch. I also quickly poll the students if anyone is currently considering enlisting or joining the military after college, and show my support to those who say they may be.

I've provided an additional minute here to allow for the poll. My school close to a very active Marine Corps recruiting office, we are often visited by Army recruiters, and many of my students have parents who served or have plans themselves to serve. As such, I will take the opportunity to recognize our students; as with all positive college, career, and community options following high school, I show my support. When needed, I direct the in students in a direction to learn more about their options. As always, the Daily Holiday serves to build a sense of community in the classroom. 

Jigsaw Reading

45 minutes

Students will take the opportunity today to read and report back to a small group on a section of the historical background covering the Colonial Era and The American Revolutionthe ideas of The Enlightenmentthe authors of the Revolutionary War and Early National Period (specifically Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Phillis Wheatley); and the persuasive rhetorical devices we will be studying (repetition, restatement, antithesisparallel structurerhetorical question, and the three appeals of argument). This information provides context for the period we are studying and defines the skills students will be asked to master.

As students read, they cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly (RI.9-10.1), taking note of the central ideas of the selection, and how those ideas emerge over the reading (RI.9-10.2).

Before class begins, I post the sections of the reading on the board. Students divide up into groups of four for this assignment (there are four sections in the textbook to read and take notes on). Using the students across the front row of the classroom, I model a partial "jigsaw reading," by explaining Student 1 will only read part 1 (indicating the first student in the row by name), Student 2 will only read part 2 , Student 3 will only read Part 3, and Student 4 will only read part 4, "You will need to take notes identifying the main ideas and anything else you feel is important or interesting. Once everyone in the group has completed the reading, report back to the group; share the notes you took." I explain students should read the notes aloud, rather than just pass around notebooks, as a secondary goal here is to encourage communication and give the group members the chance to discuss or check for understanding. As I do with all collaborative assignments, I remind students to "sit on the same level"; all group members should sit on the floor, or all should sit in desks, or all should sit at the classroom table, not various places. And all group members should face each other: not all leaning against the wall, not in a row in desks, etc. 

In a traditional jigsaw reading, students form "expert groups" that come to a consensus about a topic before reporting their findings to the whole class or a group. We are modifying the groups to put the onus on the individual student student to develop his or her skills to read, identify the central ideas, and present these ideas clearly, concisely, and logically so that his or her group can follow the line of reasoning and the organization of the reading selection (SL.9-10.4).

I typically assign groups for this, rather than let students pick. This ensures students have a variety of contact with their peers. I ask students to to sit together partially to ensure they are focused and minimize distractions, and partially to facilitate communication. Jigsawing allows for an exchange of ideas and for students to be exposed to a variety of communication styles. Early in the semester, as it still is, students still have not interacted with their entire class yet, and this activity provides an opportunity for students to widen the group of peers to whom they have exposure. 

While students are reading and discussing the material, I circulate the room, looking over shoulders at notes and offering clarification and focus as needed

As we read the works of each of the individual authors and discuss the context of the writing, we will refer to these selections. This functions as an informal, formative assessment of the students' reading and comprehension, and also reminds them that this material is important to understanding the unit and should not be forgotten after today. 


Two Minute Warning: Wrap Up and Homework

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining in the class, I ask the students to return to their seats, and note the homework for tonight: to read an excerpt from "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" (beginning on page 76 of this .pdf, with the line "It was about this time I conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection" through page 83, with the line "a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in countenance"). As students read, they are asked to take note of the process Franklin uses in his attempt to achieve perfection and to paraphrase each of the virtues Franklin attempts to live by. By identifying these details (RI.9-10.1) and how Franklin unfolds his process for perfection (RI.9-10.3), students are prepared for discussion on the work. "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" provides an opportunity for students to analyze a document by a seminal American figure, including how it expresses the Enlightenment ideas of rational thought (RI.9-10.9)