Writing Project in Eighth Grade
Hind Haddad, International Academy of Columbus, Arabic Teacher 6-8
The jigsaw technique means that the teacher splits the class into four to five groups and splits the lesson concepts into four to five segments. Afterwards, the teacher gives one segment to each group to study, solve, and work on their specific piece.
Students in this strategy work collaboratively to enhance each other’s skills so the individual will focus on the group goals, which is the opposite of the competitive concept. In theory, this will help students with low self-esteem enhance their confidence (Moskowitz et al., 1989).
Many studies displayed teachers’ experiences, and action research articulates the benefits of the jigsaw technique; according to Ukpepi et al. (2016), students with low performance levels can benefit when working with high-performing students because, in many aspects, students are eager to learn from each other more than from a teacher. In addition, the cooperative learning concept will teach the student to be responsible for achieving the goals, changing the learning style from a teacher-centered approach to a learner-centered system. Also, the study conducted by Tran et al. (2019) showed that the students working in the jigsaw groups scored higher grades than students taught through direct instruction only.
Jigsaw Experience in Writing in Arabic Class for Middle School Students (Eighth Grade)
As an Arabic teacher for speakers of other languages, I always look for others’ teaching experiences to implement in my classrooms, especially when it comes to the writing level. I must always find the best practices to help my students integrate Arabic paragraphs. I want to support the student’s ability to use a foreign language in speaking and writing in spontaneous language to help them achieve the required interpersonal communication standard according to the ODE world languages and cultures standards. It is hard to implement one technique or strategy with all students due to the nature of the language and the different language proficiency levels that the classroom includes. Jigsaw is cooperative learning, including many embedded systems (direct instruction at the beginning and learner-based strategy when performing) to help the students achieve their best. Therefore, I am writing this article to share my experience using this strategy, one that I find beneficial for students and educators simultaneously.
In the experiment, I divided students into five groups. Each group had mixed gender since it is recommended to help middle school girls be more assertive with their learning (Slavin, 2013). Moreover, each group has many different proficiency levels, so students can help each other in writing. In addition, students could choose writing topics for each week as a group. This helped them to maximize their ability to collaborate and to utilize their social skills.
Technology as an Arabic Writing Integrating Tool
Technology is one of the main tools that students use in this strategy. When they chose their topics for each week, they could use their Chromebooks, and I provided them with a list of websites they could rely on to find resources and vocabulary for their topics. Monitoring their usage for tech was necessary by using the GoGuardian website with scenes that allow students to use only the website lists I provided. Using technology in the jigsaw groups allowed students to help each other and improved their technology skills. At the same time, they were exposed to new websites that provided them with new knowledge about Arabic culture and helped them connect their prior knowledge with the current writing theme.
Other Sources Used in the Project
In the project, I let the students, through the groups, design four conversations about four different topics and four essays. I trained them to use multiple resources; I borrowed Arabic books from the public library aligned with their level and Almojaam [the Arabic lexicon]. By exposing students to these resources, they could learn more about the actual Arabic language, the organization of Arabic books, how they start, and the lexicon system, which relates to the root of the words, not the derivation. Therefore, they used higher-order thinking to compare languages and analyze what they read.
Students realized they could complete each other instead of competing with each other; those who understood Arabic helped the students who could write and read but couldn’t comprehend the context. During the conversations, they were creative. They asked each other questions and created answers related to the topic they searched for. They used the project to express their feelings about their religion, discussing Ramadan and cultural celebrations.
How to Monitor the Process During the Project
I used a pre-assessment to assess the student’s writing before the start of the project. I did ongoing assessments during the project using formative assessment, exit slips, anecdotal notes, etc. Also, I made group folders to keep their work during the project. Then I provided the students with effective feedback and graded their work regularly. I shared the expectations with my students in every class to help them stay on track to work to achieve their goals.
I kept mentoring the groups to help individual accountability and to ensure that all benefited from the research and the cooperative learning strategy.
It was a great project, and I was amazed by what we had done together. There is always a way to teach effectively and strategies to help us deliver the knowledge to our students.
Jigsaw is a great strategy to apply in the language classroom for middle school. Teachers can notice the improvements in students, how they talk, use new vocabulary, and activate some of their prior knowledge.
Moskowitz, J. M., Malvin, J. H., Schaeffer, G. A., & Schaps, E. (1983). Evaluation of a Cooperative Learning Strategy. American Educational Research Journal, 20(4), 687–696.
Ukpepi, B., Aglazor, G., oDAY, C, (2016), Cooperative Learning Strategy as Tool for Classroom Management. ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326016546_Cooperative_Learning_Strategy_as_Tool_for_Classroom_Management
Tran, V. D., Nguyen, T. M. L., Van De, N., Soryaly, C., & Doan, M. N. (2019). Does Cooperative Learning May Enhance the Use of Students’ Learning Strategies? International Journal of Higher Education, 8(4), 79–88.
Slavin, R. E. (2013). Cooperative learning and achievement: Theory and research. In W. M. Reynolds, G. E. Miller, & I. B. Weiner (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Educational psychology (pp. 179–198).