The cubing method is a flexible and adaptive way to differentiate instruction. This lesson defines cubing and introduces ways to use it effectively in the classroom.
What Is Cubing?
Let’s assume that you were asked to teach a group of 30 students how to analyze a story. Where would you begin? How would you accommodate the different levels of ability among the students? Cubing might be the right answer!Cubing is a method of instruction that allows teachers to provide six concepts or ideas to students in a simple way. Cubing is a great tool for providing differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction is a way of teaching that allows teachers to present content in multiple ways to accommodate the needs and learning styles of individual students.
Cubing does just that.Imagine a cube and let’s look at how it might help us to teach students how to analyze a story. Each side of the cube might have a word related to comprehension. For example, one side might have the word who. Another has what. A third lists when. The fourth side says where.
The fifth reads why and the sixth how.Each side of the cube prompts the student to consider a specific aspect of reading comprehension. Students can work individually or in groups to move through all six sides of the cube to determine the important elements of the story. For example, you might have students working individually, each with a cube of his or her own, where they are asked to roll the cube three times and respond in writing to the three concepts that they roll. Using cubing on an individual level allows for differentiation in instruction because the content on the cube can be adjusted to accommodate the different levels of ability among students.Cubing is very effective with group work as well.
For example, students can work in groups where they share one cube and each student’s role or responsibility is determined by the side of the cube they roll. Needless to say, cubing can prevent many of the problems that are associated with group assignments because each student’s role is clearly defined by the cube itself.Cubes can be used in tandem with worksheets or other assignments to diversify content.
Cubes can easily be adapted to different content areas or tasks with a simple change of the words illustrated on the six sides of the cube. For example, describe, compare, associate, analyze, apply, and argue for or against; or illustrate, change, solve, question, rearrange, satirize, etc.Now that we understand what cubing is, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways it can be used in the classroom.
Cubing as an Instructional Tool
As you’ve probably figured out by now, cubing is a simple yet flexible instructional tool that can be delivered in a variety of ways and adapted for almost any subject area, skill level, or topic And each cube can be made from a template, like this one. This template can be printed out on paper or copied onto yardstick before it’s cut out and pasted together. The end result is a perfect but basic cube that can be used however you wish.
The example from the beginning of the lesson, how to analyze a story, showed a couple of ways that cubing can be used to introduce ideas related to language arts. Frankly, there are endless possibilities for using cubing in language arts instruction. A cubing book report activity might list title page, forward, publisher, year of publication, page count, and summary, on the six sides of the cube to familiarize students with a new book. A vocabulary cubing activity might list the words define, use in a sentence, antonym, synonym, plural, and singular, to aid students in learning new vocabulary words.
Cubing can be easily adapted to accommodate students of varying levels of ability. This is especially true when it is used in math instruction. For example, fundamental math skills such as counting can be taught by placing sets of images on each side of the cube and asking students to count how many as they roll through the sides.
As students advance, they can be prompted with words like add, subtract, multiply, divide, square, and solve for x, on the sides of the cube.
Science instruction can be daunting for many teachers due to the intricate concepts and vocabulary. Cubing makes science instruction easy! For example, the steps of the scientific method could be placed on the six sides: ask, investigate, hypothesize, experiment, analyze data, and communicate findings. Another option for science might list chemical elements such as hydrogen, calcium, radium, titanium, magnesium, and platinum. As students flip through the different elements they might be asked to list the atomic number and/or explain the electron configurations for each element.
Cubing is a useful tool for providing differentiated instruction to students of varying levels.
With cubing, teachers have the ability to present six different topics to students in one easy-to-use approach. Each side of the cube lists one concept or idea. Students working individually or in groups move through the topics one by one. Cubing can be used successfully in any subject area of education.