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Jigsaw ancient technology and writing systems

Time Frame

1 class periods of 90 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups

Life Skills

  • Communication
  • Social & Civic Responsibility
  • Employability




Jigsaw Philosophy The new core curriculum in World Civilizations can be challenging. We are expected to teach Stone Age to A.D. 2000 in a one semester class. The jigsaw teaching tool is something we all learned in college. It can help to get information across quickly and the student can retain the knowledge, because they are teaching to their fellow students. This lesson is one example.

Objective:The student will learn and compare the technology and writing systems of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and the Yellow river region. They will use a Jigsaw format to research their assigned topic and share that information with other students in the class. The data collected by the student will be used in a testing format.

Enduring Understanding:Students will gain an understanding of early civilizations and their contributions to the foundations of human culture.

Essential questions:

  • What are the technologies and writing systems developed by ancient river valley civilizations.
  • When was the time period these technologies and writing systems were used?
  • How was the technology and writing systems used to benefit the people in their region?


  • pencil/pen and paper.
  • Graphic organizer chart. (Check background for teachers)
  • The currant textbook you are using for World Civilizations.

Background for Teachers

Graphic organizer: Make a chart with two columns. Put "Technology" above one, and "Writing Systems" above the other. Make four rows on the left hand side of the paper and write in "Egypt", "Mesopotamia", "Indus Valley", and "Yellow River". On the top of the paper write the following Socratic questions as a guide for what the students are supposed to find while researching the topic. The students will put the information in the boxes of the graphic organizer.

  • What are the technologies and writing systems used by this civilization?
  • What was the time period when the technology or writing system was used?
  • How was the technology and writing system used?
  • Why was this technology and writing system important to this civilization?
Jigsaw method.For those who have not used a this lesson before, here is a basic format. This can be used for many topics.
  1. Divide the class into expert teams of 4 to 5.
  2. Assign the expert team a topic. Give the team 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the length of topic) to research the topic using textbook or other resources, working individually or as a team.
  3. The expert team will then decide on what is most important about the topic and each member will write the information down.
  4. Give each member of the expert team an assigned letter (ie. A,B,C). These will be the teaching group.
  5. Divide the class into their assigned teaching teams.
  6. The students from the expert teams will then teach the topic to the other students, while the others write the information down.
  7. After the Jigsaw is completed, the teacher may collect all the data from the students or one final product from each expert team. The information can be used to make tests or written assignments.

Student Prior Knowledge

The student will need to know how to find subjects in a World Civilizations textbook. Such as using a table of contents, index, main headings, vocabulary words, etc.
Students will need to know what you mean by technology. Define the meaning in the context of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and so forth.

Instructional Procedures

The following is a format I use. Feel free to modify the lesson to fit your classes personality.

  1. Introduce the idea of jigsaw research and teaching to the students (for help check the Background for Teachers section in this lesson)
  2. Divide the class into expert teams of three or four. (depending on the size of your class.)
  3. Pass out the graphic organizers for each member of the expert team, and one extra for the final product to be given to the teacher at the end of the lesson.
  4. Assign a topic to each expert team. Such as Egypt and Technology, Egypt and Writing system and so forth.
  5. Have the students quietly research the information from their World Civilizations textbook.
  6. Then have the expert teams work together to decide what is the most important information to know. An idea from each team member must be on the final paper that will be taught to the other students, and handed in to the teacher.
  7. Now assign each member of the expert team a letter. A, B, C, and D. These will be the teaching groups.
  8. Divide the class into the teaching groups.
  9. The experts for each topic will now share their information with the members of the teaching group. The students will then fill in their graphic organizer.
  10. Now the students have the data they need to prepare for however you choose to assess the information.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

For ESL students have them look a maps or charts in the book to find information on their topic.

Assessment Plan

The information the students have collected can be used to assess the students understanding in many different ways. Listed below are some examples or come up with your own.

  • Put together a poster or diorama on technology and writing systems.
  • Make a brochure advertising early inventions from Egypt and Mesopotamia.
  • Make a map showing how these civilizations shared technology.
  • Make a timeline of when the technology and writing systems developed.
  • Write an editorial on the usefulness of an ancient invention.
  • Learn to write their name, and a letter to a friend in Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Have the friend decipher the letter.
  • Test the students on the information using M/C, true/false, matching or essay questions.

Created: 08/06/2002
Updated: 02/04/2018