How to Use Google Meet Breakout Rooms for Jigsaw Activities

Caylie Gaccione
Curriculum Specialist
News on April 05 2021


Are you looking for a unique and collaborative activity for your students? Jigsaw activities are the answer! Not only are they an opportunity to teach multiple topics and ideas in one lesson, but they can be done in a completely virtual setting.

Typically, jigsaw activities are set up by dividing a lesson into parts, placing students in groups, monitoring each group, distributing resources, and then having students move into different groups and reporting on their topic. This seems like a challenging task to accomplish through distance learning, but Google Meet makes it an easy process!

TIP: Google Meet Breakout Rooms are currently only available for Google Enterprise. If you do not have a Google Enterprise account, you may be able to use an extension to make this happen, but this blog is focused on the embedded Google Meet Breakout Room feature.

How it works: Jigsaw activity breakdown

  • Introduce a lesson strategy or topic.
  • Divide a lesson into multiple parts. For example, an “Animals” activity can be broken into mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
  • Divide your students into “share groups” with the number of parts in each lesson. Based on the “Animals” example, each group would have five students.
  • Each student from a “share group” is assigned one part. One student is responsible for mammals, one for birds, etc.
  • Provide students with any necessary resources and materials; share any time constraints and/or key questions to guide research and discussion. Students will complete this part independently.
  • Create “expert groups” where students can connect with members from other groups who are assigned the same topic. For example, every student who read about mammals would move into an expert group.
  • The expert group shares what they learned, assisting each other in fully understanding the content.
  • Once the material has been mastered, return to the “share” groups and have students teach their topics to other members of their groups. Each student will now learn about each part by completing a graphic organizer or related activity.
  • The teacher will then give an assessment to ensure that each student learned each component of the lesson.

Students are responsible for learning the content from one another. Through this learning strategy, each student is a piece of the puzzle. A huge benefit of this type of learning activity is that students are each held accountable for a particular part of the lesson and are able to assist each other along the way and practice active listening skills.

Getting started: Google Meet breakout rooms preparation

As we mentioned, Google Meet breakout rooms are a great option for a collaborative and virtual learning experience. Breakout rooms can be used to divide the participants of your video conference into smaller groups. The person who schedules and/or starts the meeting will be the moderator (that’s your job as the teacher!)

Just like an in-person jigsaw activity, some preparation must be done on Google Meet for a virtual activity. The following should be done before students join the meeting.

1. Create and collect lesson resources, graphic organizers, reading materials, etc.

2. Attach all necessary resources and organizers to the Google Meet (this can be done via Calendar) and invite students.

3. Make a plan for who will be in each group.

4. Create an assessment, and a plan to distribute it.

5. Create and name the breakout rooms for “expert” groups.

Here are the steps for creating the rooms in advance:

  • Create a new Google Calendar event
  • Add Google Meet video conferencing and invite participants
  • Adjust conference settings and select “breakout rooms”
  • Choose the number of breakout rooms and choose to drag participants into different rooms, either entering names directly or shuffling to mix the groups.

Ready, set, go! Start your jigsaw activity

Now that everything is set up, the Google Meet is ready for students! When you are ready to begin the jigsaw activity, use the following procedure:

1. Start your Google Meet. This can be started from a Calendar Event, Google Classroom, straight from Google Meet, etc.

2. Review the resources, graphic organizers, and instructions with the class.

3. Access the activities menu (shapes icon) and select “Breakout rooms.”

Google Meet Breakout Rooms Icon

4. Click “Edit” (pencil icon) and choose how many breakout rooms you would like to have. You can also edit the names of each room.

Breakout Rooms Options

5. From there you will see all of the people in the main call and you can shuffle or select who is in each room by dragging and dropping or manually entering their names. These rooms will be the “expert groups.”

6. Select “Open Rooms” in the bottom right to start your breakout rooms. Students will get a notification to join the room.

7. Give time for students to research and collaborate. The teacher can join different breakout rooms to monitor student progress.

  • You can set a timer for breakout rooms by selecting the hourglass icon at the top of the breakout room panel
  • If students reach out to you, a banner stating “Asked for help” will appear above the rooms that have reached out to you
  • You can join a room by selecting “Join” on the desired room

Google Meet Breakout Rooms Open Join Options

8. End all breakout rooms (and return to main meeting as whole class) by selecting “Close rooms.”

Google Meet Breakout Rooms Edit and Close Rooms Icon

9. Give the short activity you created for students to complete.

10. As students are working, rearrange students into the share group breakout rooms so that each share group has at least one member of each expert group.

11. Start breakout rooms and send students to share groups. Select “Open rooms” in the bottom right.

12. Give time for students to share and complete their graphic organizers.

13. End breakout rooms (and return to main meeting as whole class) by selecting “Close rooms.”

14. Provide students with an assessment.

For more information and tips on how to use virtual jigsaw activities using Google Meet, be sure to check out our OTIS Skills video: Using Breakout Rooms in Google Meet (Enterprise).

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.

Teq is an experienced Google for Education Partner. If your school is purchasing G Suite Enterprise for Education or Chromebooks, you may be eligible to receive free PD from Teq as part of the Google Service Offer program.