ESL Book Review – Callan’s Jigsaws

A jigsaw, of course, is an activity where several small groups of students each get only one part of a reading text. They must figure out how to explain their part to members of other groups, so that the whole story can be pieced together. It’s good practice for students, contributes cooperation, and give less competent students a chance to be the knowledgeable ones for a change.

Callan’s Jigsaws by Nancy Callan gives you nineteen ready-to-go, reproducible jigsaws, plus much more.

Topics include daily routines, health, shopping, banking, and Christmas (including a simple version of O. Henry’s famous short story, “The Gift of the Magi”). Each chapter contains a text already divided into four sections, four pictures to correspond to the sections, and several follow-up activities (clozes, true/false questions, sentence strips to be put in order, and others). Several are presented in both beginner and intermediate versions. Each one is labeled with the language points it reinforces.

Each chapter can serve as the basis for a class session. Of course, they work best in a class large enough for at the minimum four small groups, but the author gives suggestions on what to do when this isn’t the situation. I’ve used the texts successfully in non-jigsaw form (for other reading and listening activities) when I didn’t have enough students for a jigsaw.

This book can save you lots of prep time and raise your students’ levels of interest and participation.

Callan’s Jigsaws, by Nancy Callan, is published by Snug Harbour Publications (ISBN 0-9730398-1-7), and obtainable at the author’s site, esljigsaws.com

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