Explain to students that the class will be learning about the Abenaki through a cooperative learning activity called the “Jigsaw”. Use the visual analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to describe for students how the lesson works.
Students will begin in Home Teams of four people each. Picture four pieces of a jigsaw puzzle connected together. Every Home Team learns the same body of information. Tell students that by the end of the lesson everyone will be responsible for the answers to all of the questions. When students are in their Home Teams, distribute the Handout: Abenaki Jigsaw Guide. Each student picks one area to research. The choice are: Abenaki (I) History, (II) Daily Life, (III) Customs and (IV) Economy.
Once students have selected their area to research, the puzzle “breaks apart” and students meet with their Expert Teams made up of all the other students in the class who selected that area. For example, all the students who chose section I. Abenaki History will meet with all other students who chose section I. The next step is for each Expert Team to research the answers to the questions on the Guide. For accountability, students should divide up the work evenly. Give students time to access the school library, the Internet or classroom books so that they can research their topics. Provide guidance in dividing up the work. Take steps to ensure that all members of each Expert Team are confident in their understanding of the material. One cooperative learning technique is to have every member of the group take on a role so that everyone is on task. For example, potential student roles are: facilitator, recorder, researcher, summarizer. Also, students can be responsible for one or more questions in their category. Accountability is key for successful collaboration. Remind students that everyone will be responsible for the answers to all questions by the end of the lesson.
Pieces Connected Again
Once the research is completed, have students return to their original Home Teams. Ask that they take turns teaching each other the information. This is an excellent opportunity to teach small group social skills such as being attentive, note-taking and eye contact.
Circulate among students during the research and teaching phases to ensure that everyone is on task and accurate.
To conclude the lesson and check for understanding, conduct a whole class discussion and review of the information students discovered. Reinforce the purpose of the lesson which is to emphasize the role of distinct groups in our nation’s history. Through their research students should see the important contribution the Abenaki made to life in this country during the colonial period and beyond. The Abenaki stand as an example of the multilayered fabric of United States history, culture and economy. Spark students’ thinking by asking them the role of other groups in building American history and culture. End by giving the class a quiz on the material.