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Cubing

Cubing (Cowan & Cowan, 1980) is a teaching strategy which facilitates looking at a topic from varying perspectives.
It involves the use of a cube with different prompts for thinking and writing on each side of the cube. The cube can be made by covering a small box, preferably 15 to 20 centimetres on a side, with paper. Write one of the following six prompts on each side of the cube: Describe It, Compare It, Associate It, Analyze It, Apply It, and Argue for or Against It.

Teachers lead students through the process of cubing by having students free write for a brief period (2
to 4 minutes) on a given topic. Give the topic first. Then direct students to think of the topic and Describe
It. That is, they should look at the subject closely and describe what they see, including colors, shapes,
or signs. With the directions in mind students free write for the specified period of time on the topic.
The process continues as above through all six sides of the cube. The directions for the six sides are
deScribe it. Look at the subject closely (perhaps only in your mind) and
describe what you see, including colors, shapes, or sizes.
cOMPare it. What is it similar to? What is it different from?
aSSOciate it. What does it make you think of? What comes into your mind? It can be similar things or
different things, places, or people. Just let your mind go and see what associations you have for this subject.
aNalyZe it. Explain how it is made. You don’t have to know; you can make it up.
aPPly it. How can it be used?
arGue fOr Or aGaiNSt it. Go ahead and take a stand. Use any kind of
reason you want – logical, silly, or anywhere in between.
The prescribed time can be different for each side of the cube (for example: Describe It – 5 min, Compare It – 3 min, Associate It – 1 min.).
Following the writing period, students share their responses to each side of the cube. Often this sharing is done first with a partner. Each person selects three sides of the cube to share and read their writing to their partners.
There are no set rules of how this sharing must go but we have found it worked extremely well to share as follows.
After one partner reads, the other responded by giving praise (or praises) and a question (or questions). We stressed responding to specific thoughts and that students not just say for example, “that was good” but say  specifically what they liked and why they liked it. Questions were modelled such as “I liked the way you described your vision, I did not think it looked like that,” or “I did not understand …,” or “I would like know more about this.”
Finally, the whole group went through each of the perspectives. We asked for volunteers to read their writing
to the whole group. Usually one partner volunteered the other partner, saying,“read yours, it was good.”


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