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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 5

Differentiated learning strategies

Use differentiated learning strategies, for example jigsaw reading.

Learning task 5
Teaching and learning activities Principles

Jigsaw reading


Jigsaw reading (combined with reciprocal teaching) gives all students a role to focus on when reading, encourages learning from each other, and ensures students use both receptive and productive skills.

Each student in a 'home group' is given a number and moves to join other students with the same number to create an 'expert group'. Each group has a different part of the text to read and discuss, using the steps of reciprocal teaching. When this activity is completed, each member of the expert group should end up with a summary page containing key words and (often) a diagram. They then return to their 'home group' to teach the information to the others in the group (without using the original text). They take turns and the rest of the group listens and records important facts.

After these reading and discussion activities, teachers can set a follow-up task to check comprehension, preferably without students having access to the original text.

  • Text A (easier reading level - the text is amplified to explain word meaning)

    Common acids:

    • Formic acid: Many insects such as bees and ants use formic acid when they sting or bite. Worker bees have a stinger that evolved for combat (fighting). Ants attack and defend themselves by biting, and in many species (different sorts of ants), stinging. When biting or stinging they may inject (put) formic acid into the enemy. The unusual smell we notice when ants are squashed (stood on) comes from this chemical.
    • Acetic acid: The writer Pliny says that Cleopatra, always looking for new beauty treatments, once drank a pearl dissolved in vinegar. This is certainly possible because vinegar has acetic acid in it and pearls are made of calcium carbonate which is like marble (a hard rock). Marble dissolves in acid.
  • Text B

    Common Bases:

    • Caustic Soda: Also known as sodium hydroxide, caustic soda is widely used in industry, mostly as a strong chemical base in the manufacture of vinyl chloride (for PVC), paper, textiles, and detergents. Caustic soda is sometimes also used to wash or chemically peel fruit or vegetables, is used in chocolate and cocoa processing, caramel colour production, soft drink processing, and thickening ice cream.
    • Ammonia: Ammonia is a gas that is often used in fridges, freezers and cool stores. It is very soluble in water and it would be possible to dissolve 700 jars of ammonia gas into one jar of water. So ammonia is one of the most soluble gases known. It has a strong smell that reminds us of wet nappies.
  • Text C

    Strengths of acids and bases:

    • Acids do not all have the same strength. For example, sulphuric acid is a strong acid, whereas citric acid is weak. Acids that react quickly with substances are called strong acids. Acids that react slowly are called weak acids. Most of the acids found in living things are weak acids. There are also strong and weak alkalis.
    • Don't confuse the terms strong and weak with concentrated and dilute. Strong and weak refer to the type of acid or alkali. Concentrated and dilute refer to the amounts of water that have been added to the acids.

Based on Black, M., Jones, T., O'Connell, B. + Percy L. (1990). Readings for the New World of Science. Takapuna: New House Publishers Ltd.

Summing up task for the home group after completion of the jigsaw activity:

Is formic acid a strong or weak acid?

Principle 3

Published on: 19 Feb 2018