In one of the sessions of my Pre-IB course I got the students to work in groups throughout the lesson on a number of tasks. The first of these was my 'piece it all together' task.
I had previously roamed the Queens College campus trying to find a suitably large poster that I could create a puzzle from. In the end I found a brightly coloured A2 poster on a student swap shop. I took the poster down (after getting permission from the porters who said it was fine as all students had left for Summer) and then cut it into about 50 odd pieces of different sizes and shapes, thus creating a jigsaw puzzle. I shuffled the pieces and then gave each person in the class 3 or 4 pieces of the puzzle.
I told the class that they then had to work together to piece back together the poster that I had cut up. There was no original for them to use a guide as the original WAS the puzzle! So they really had to work together to try and piece it all back together.
I noticed two things happen when they started to do this, 16 people trying to complete 1 puzzle is too much and there were naturally those that delved straight in and those that rather hung around at the edges of the room whilst the rest were completing the puzzle. I watched this all unfold for a while and checked their progress before stopping the class. I told those that were on the floor piecing the puzzle together to stand up and swap with everyone who wasn't. I then told them to continue. The class worked well together and the puzzle was complete a lot quicker than I had anticipated, but not too soon!
In future, I will use this activity but I will make sure that I have no more than say 6 students working on any one puzzle. I will also get some larger posters so I can cut out more pieces.
I'm thinking of create some of these, laminating them and keeping them for tutor time etc. I might even use some Escher artworks?!