Cubing is an engaging teaching strategy that encourages critical thinking and in-depth exploration of a topic. It can be used either as a writing strategy for brainstorming and generating ideas, or as a way to promote deeper understanding of the main ideas of a story or a topic in the content areas. Students use a six-sided cube as a visual aid to provide writing prompts and create a three-dimensional interpretation that addresses many different aspects of a topic. Cubing can be done as a group or individual project.
How to Use the Cubing Strategy
Divide students into groups. Each group will construct a cube out of card stock or thin cardboard. Each face of the cube should be large enough to allow room for the students to record and display their responses. A blank cube template that can be enlarged can be found here.
Each side of the cube will provide a writing prompt that addresses one aspect of the topic. The six sides are:
1. Describe- Students will describe the topic as thoroughly as possible in words, including as many details as they can think of.
2. Compare- Students will compare and contrast the topic to something else, finding similarities and differences.
3. Associate- Using free association, students will list things that this topic brings to mind.
4. Analyze- Students will break the topic down into its component parts and materials, or analyze it in terms of causes, effects, or relationships.
5. Apply- Students will think of some of the ways this topic is used or what its affect has been in the world or everyday life.
6. Argue for or against- Students will come up with positive and negative attributes of the topic, and defend their argument.
This technique can be used for virtually any topic. It works for all types of science topics such as biomes, endangered species, elements, planets, earthquakes, or volcanoes. Social studies topics including ancient Greece or Rome, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, and the Gold Rush, as well as states, countries, continents or famous people can all be explored by cubing. In addition, cubing can be used to investigate various aspects of a work of fiction, such as characters, plot and setting.
Students will work as a group to brainstorm and agree on responses to the prompt on each side of the cube. They will then cut paper to fit the sides of the cube, and record their responses on the paper. The paper is attached to the cube using a glue stick. At the completion of the project, students can present their finished cube to the rest of the class.
Tompkins, Gail. Literacy for the 21st Century, 3rd Edition. Pearson Education, 2003.