What is it?
Tarsia is a piece of freely available software which allows teachers
to create a wide range of jigsaws, domino and follow-me activities
How can I get the software?
The software is available to download from via this
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for “Formulator Tarsia
The download software also includes a comprehensive user-guide.
Screen shots and instructions are available via this
How can teachers use it?
The advantages of this software are:
You can easily create wide range of activities, including jigsaws
of various shapes and sizes, dominoes, matching rectangular cards
and follow-me cards.
The teacher does not need to spend time cutting up the jigsaw as the
software automatically jumbles up the pieces of the jigsaw in the
Output section, thus allowing the teacher to simply print out a copy
and hand it to the students to cut out and assemble
Having selected what type of activity they wish to create, teachers
use the Input screen to input as many questions and answers as they
like. The software has a built-in equation editor to ensure that all
mathematical symbols and expressions are available, and supports the
importing of images. Teachers can then check their answers on the
Table screen, before printing out the jumbled up version for the students.
They can then either print out the solution or project it onto their
interactive whiteboard for the students to check their answers. Completed
jigsaws also make nice classroom displays.
Tarsia Jigsaw activities are incredibly versatile, and can be used
for many mathematical topics and all ability levels. They promote
group work and discussion, and provide a nice alternative to doing
questions out of a textbook. They are an ideal way to revise or consolidate
a topic. Furthermore, they can be differentiated – by writing
questions of varying difficulty, you can ensure that all students
can access some of the activity whilst also providing extension material
for the most able.
With a bit of tweaking, Tarsia puzzles can be made even more challenging,
pushing your students to think even more about the topic in hand.
• Missing Answers – choose
a couple of the cards and leave the answer (or even the question!)
blank so students have to fill them in for themselves
• Deliberate Mistakes – announce
at the start of the activity that you have made two mistakes in the
puzzle and students must identify them and correct them
• Non-unique Solutions –
have a couple of the answers the same, so students have to use logic
and thinking skills to assemble the entire puzzle correctly
• Order of Difficulty – when
students have finished the puzzle, get them to select the three most
difficult pieces to match-up and explain what makes them tricky
• Revision Lessons – get
students to create Tarsia puzzles themselves on difficult topics (it
is a free piece of software so can be installed on all school computers)
and challenge each other to solve them
• Worksheet – One criticsm
of Tarsia is that once the students have completed the puzzle they
have no record/evidence of their work and also no revision material.
Gill Hillitt has a solution... simply print out the "Table"
page and blank out the answers. Hand this out to the students alongside
the jigsaw and they can fill in their answers here as they go. When
the jigsaw has been completed, they then have a lovely record of their
work. Nice. Top Tip: To blank out answers, delete them on the
input screen, but add a space (press the space-bar), otherwise you
may find the answer returns!
Handling images in Tarsia and sharing them
Good news – you can insert images into
Tarsia. Bad news - Tarsia does not insert an image instead it inserts
a link to the absolute address of the image. This means that if the
images are then moved the jigsaw will lose contact and you will end
up with those annoying red rectangles.
This is fine if you are creating a jigsaw to be shared on a network,
so long as you first put all the images you want to use where they
can be accessed by everyone you want to share with. However, if you
wish to simply copy a jigsaw which contains images, then not only
do the images need to be copied to where they will be accessible but
also all the links will need to be changed! Alas, I have found no
way of getting around this. You
can find more details on adding images to Tarsia courtesy of Alan
Catley by clicking here.
However, there is an alternative! Once you have
placed the images in your Tarsia, you can convert Output page(s) into
a pdf. This will then retain all your images, enabling you to share
the file much more easily. The downside is that you won't be able
to edit the Tarisa as it will be locked in the pdf, but this might
be an ideal solution to get round the image issue. A nice, free pdf
converter is PrimoPdf.
After you click on the links below, all the jigsaw files will arrive
in a zipped folder. This is annoying,
but is easily resolved. So long as your computer has Windows XP (or
Vista), when you save and then open the folder you should get an option
of the left of the window that says "extract
all files". Click on this and your files
will be good to go!
Also, there may well be the odd error that sneaks into these jigsaws.
If you spot one, please let me know. But also, why not turn the errors
into a greater challenge for the students! I love a "deliberate"
Core 1 and Core 2
Core 3 and Core 4
Applied and Further Maths
Alan Catley's Tarsias
Gill Hillitt's Tarsias
Laura Rees-Hughes' Tarsias
P.S. These jigsaw files are proving immensely popular and
extremely useful, so if you have any of your own jigsaw files which
you would like to share, then please let me know here.
The more the merrier! Thank you...
Many thanks to the following people
for kindly donating their jigsaws to the bundle:
Peter Brooks, Plant Hill Arts College, Manchester
Judith de Villiers, Folkestone Academy,
Steve Wren, Comberton Village College, Cambridge
Nisha Ganatra, Lea Manor High School, Luton
Samantha Green, The Cheltenham Ladies College,
John White, Secondary Maths Consultant,
Karen Walker, Poltair School, St. Austell
Jenny Andrews, Richard Hale School, Hertford
Sam Powell, Sheldon Heath Community Arts
Nyima Drayang, Seaham School of Technology
William Leonard, Bullerswood, Bromley
Vikki Sutton, Holmesdale Technology College
James Gatrell, St John Plessington Catholic
Kevin Alderson, Newcastle College
Gill Hillitt, Joseph Chamberlain College,
Sarah Pearson, Taipei Eurpoean School Simon
Young, Erith School
Steve Sherman and Pupils, Tytherington High
School Alan Catley
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