Pedagogy in Action > Library > Jigsaws > Jigsaw Activities > Le Parcours de la biodiversité: A Jigsaw Activity on Biodiversity

Le Parcours de la biodiversité: A Jigsaw Activity on Biodiversity

This page authored by Laura Franklin, Northern Virginia Community College, based on the Parcours de la biodiversité website by Curiosphere.
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This material was originally developed through Merlot
as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.


In this jigsaw activity, students of intermediate-level French will divide into five groups to become experts on each of the five biodiversity questions featured on the Curiosphere website. They will proceed to explain their assigned aspect of the issue to a small group of students.

The questions follow:
Le Parcours de la biodiversité

  • Qu'est-ce que la diversité biologique?
  • Quelles sont les variations de cette diversité?
  • Quelles sont les causes de ces variations?
  • Quelles sont les conséquences de ces variations?
  • Que voulons-nous?

The students in each group will study the biodiversity videos on the Curiosphere site, some by famous photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand in an effort to find answers to their particular questions. Once they come to consensus about the main points for their particular team question, the groups will change. The second phase of the jigsaw will have one student for each biodiversity question at each of five tables. They will all take turns explaining their individual question to the rest of their new group. In this way, five experts on different dimensions of the issue will come together to synthesize the main points of the biodiversity question. A final activity will be a written summary of their findings with each member providing her individual part of the report. The instructor will act as facilitator for the whole activity.

Learning Goals

  1. Students will learn the French terminology for discussions on biodiversity.
  2. Students will develop listening comprehension strategies for dealing with authentic video texts.
  3. Students will learn about the efforts of a Francophone proponent of biodiversity awareness.
  4. Students will learn to think critically about one segment of a complex issue and share their findings with the group.
  5. Students will practice using thematic vocabulary on a specialized topic.

Context for Use

The preparation for the jigsaw (reading the website, watching videos and writing the report) can all be done outside class. Class time should be spent on facilitated discussion of all the resources. Group dynamics will be extremely important, as every participant is fully responsible for one important question. This activity should not be undertaken until the instructor has a notion of which students will work best together. (Note: In classes larger than twenty-five students, a student facilitator might be added to each table. In classes smaller than twenty-five, students might take on more than one of the five questions.)

Description and Teaching Materials

The MERLOT website for this jigsaw activity contains print and video support for its completion.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The instructor should do a brief walkthrough of the Curiosphere website in class to be sure that all students know how to navigate the whole site and their particular section.

The instructor must devise a mechanism to be sure that each group understands its particular question and that they do not cover the questions of other groups.

Facilitation of this activity is crucial. Set time limits for speakers in the group activities and ask students to divide their time wisely to allow for thorough participation. Announce to the students how much time they will have for each activity. Once the activity is under way, let them know how much time is left. In an ideal setting, all voices should be heard and no one should dominate conversation.

The instructor should develop and teach key vocabulary for each discussion question and encourage students to include the vocabulary.

Students should be encouraged to bring in a handout with talking points for the other participants. This will give them an outline to which they can refer and it will give listeners a notion of what to expect.

If the technology exists, a laptop per table might be a nice addition to the group activities, however the communication should be the major activity at each table, not computer research.


There are opportunities for formative and summative assessment in this activity. Formative assessment can be a worksheet that each participant fills out as they summarize in rough notes the main points of what they learn from the other experts at the table.

Summative assessment would be the final written report that each group would assemble at the end of the activity.

References and Resources

The reference materials are at this original Curiosphere website.