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Cubing: A Cooperative Learning Strategy

Understanding information from narrative or description requires students to become aware of and practice looking at ideas from multiple perspectives. For this they have to involve in “active questioning, practice trying out ideas, and rethinking what they thought they knew.” For example, a six sided view of understanding has to be adapted that includes explaining, interpreting, applying, having perspective, empathizing, and developing self-knowledge. Cubing is one of the strategies that can help the students to examine different topics to practice and develop higher order-thinking skills.

Meaning of Cubing

According to Cowan & Cowan, “Cubing is a strategy that helps students approach reading and writing from different perspectives. Rather than giving the typical, perfunctory recount of a book or content area chapter, students can learn with the simple roll of a cube from perspectives such as compare, associate, analyse, apply, evaluate, and satirize. Just as a cube has six sides, students are asked to explore topics using up to six different points of view.”

Steps of Cubing

To create cubes, select a topic with enough depth to support multiple perspectives. Generate six questions per cube with each question corresponding to a higher level thinking. One or more questions have to be opinion based with no right or wrong answer. Teachers can differentiate an assignment by creating different cubes with questions of varying degrees of difficulty. The difficult cubes can be colour coded with the colour of the question sheet matching the colour.

Once the questions are ready, write the name of the perspective or the questions directly on the cube. If the cube is too small and the questions are difficult to read, label the cube with the titles of the perspectives being addressed, and on a separate sheet of paper, coordinate the titles to their corresponding questions. This procedure allows the same cubes to be used several times.

Implementation

  • Students can work alone, in pairs, or in small groups with the appropriate cube.
  • In pairs or small groups, each student takes a turn rolling the cube and doing the activity that comes up. Students have the choice to roll again once if they don’t like the activity that turns up.
  • Students each roll the cube 2-4 times, depending on the magnitude of the assignments.

Cubing also can be used in different ways. It can be used to initiate free writing where students are given three to five minutes to explore each of the six given perspectives. This pre writing activity helps students initially probe a topic, determine what they know and what needs to be given further thought and study. Cubing can also be used as an assessment tool for teachers to evaluate the degree to which students understand a topic or book.  Teachers can also use this as to know what perspectives they are ignoring in the classroom or what they themselves have not explored.

Cubing is a very good instructional strategy that provides opportunities for students to use and share their thinking in relation to a topic, subject. It gives them a chance to look at a subject or a concept from different perspectives. It makes the learning as fun. The students feel that they are they are playing while learning. It is a great strategy for tactile/kinaesthetic learners as they reinforce understanding and extend or demonstrate learning and it can be easily implemented in the class room.

References

Cowan, G., & Cowan, E. (1980). Writing. New York: Wiley.

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.978-1416600350

Randy Wallace,  Cathy Pearman,  Cindy Hail, Beth Hurst Writing for Comprehension, Reading Horizons • V48.1 • 2007, Retrieved 06, September, 2015, from http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1073&context=reading_horizons

Eulouise Williams Cubing and Think Dots, Retrieved 06, September, 2015, from http://curry.virginia.edu/uploads/resourceLibrary/nagc_cubing__think_dots.pdf

Duckart, T. (2006). Tracy Duckart’s instructional website at Humboldt State University: Cubing. Retrieved 06, September, 2015, from Humboldt University Web site: http://www.humboldt.edu/tdd2/Cubing.htm.

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