Explain cubing and its benefits for students.  Explain how cubing taps into different intelligences.  Explain how cubing differentiates for learning.  Explain how a teacher can assesses the readiness level of her students for cubing activities.  Explain how we can use cubes in the classroom.  Design an example of a cube for a popular children's book.

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Cubing is a rather interesting approach in generating thinking about a topic and embrace brainstorming as a part of the writing process.  The cubing approach is one where different aspects of a task is illuminated through the six dimensional cube.  For the teacher who cubes an assignment, a very unique approach to generate thought is evident.

A teacher has a topic for students.  In either groups or individually, a three dimensional cube is given with different tasks on each side. Students roll the cube and must address the tasks that are on that side.  The cube approach is a way for students, in groups or individually, to be able to experience different aspects of learning and appropriate it in a "game- like form."

The cubing approach addresses different methods of acting upon a child's base of intelligence.  The kinesthetic aspect of intelligence is seen with this task.  If students assemble the cube and the act of rolling the cube triggers the bodily or tactile approach to learning that greatly enhances some students' intellectual capacities.  Another intelligence that is evident in the cubing approach to learning is an intrapersonal one.  Students must reflect internally, on an intrapersonal level, about their own views of content.  The questions/ tasks that are featured in a cubing assignment are not necessarily strictly fact- based, one worded answers.  They possess some complexity and depth to them in which reflection is needed.  If students are working in groups, an interpersonal intelligence is evident.  If students are working on their own, a part of the task could be to interact with other students, asking them questions about their own particular cube.  This activates the interpersonal notion of intelligence because it enables students to interact with others predicated upon content acquisition.  Finally, I would suggest that there is an existential notion of intelligence in this particular task. Students can openly wonder why the cube turned a particular way in their direction.  Probability can explain the chances of drawing their particular direction.  However, being able to fully analyze why they obtained that particular task, why the cube revealed a particular item, would be reflective of the type of intelligence that suggests a predisposition to question the cosmological nature of being.

Cubing can be differentiated in some distinct ways.  The first is that each side of the question can be driven to ask specific questions that reflect differentiated learning.  Questions can be differentiated to probe into a different condition of learning within the topic.  Some questions can be logical, seeking to establish a cause- effect relationship, while other questions can ask students to explain why this causality exists.  The teacher can also develop different cubes to give to different groups if they chose to group their students in a particular manner.  For example, if a teacher ability grouped based on standardized test scores, the cube they use could feature questions that target a particular aspect within which students demonstrated a need for help. At the same time, I think that one can use the different cubes to differentiate in accordance to student predisposition.  If students with similar interests formed their own groups, the cube each group gets could be reflective of those interests. Incidentally, this is also a way for teachers to assess the readiness level of their students for cubing activities.  If students respond in a particular manner that addresses such needs, then they were ready for the activity. Students who play an instrument could feature a cube with tasks that reflect a musical background.  Students who are on a particular athletic team could work with a cube that is driven around their particular sport.  Differentiation works with this assignment because the teacher has a wide field of interests from which they can draw.

In terms of readiness for a cubing activity, I think that once students engage in a particular topic of study, the cubing activity is excellent in terms of a formative assessment.  While it can be used at different points in a unit, given the wide range of intellectual exploration featured within the cube, it seems to me that giving it as a formative assessment helps to draw out its most essential elements.  It seems to me that students are ready for this particular assignment when they have reached the end of a unit of study.  For example, if a class has finished reading a novel, or a particular topic in history, or a scientific unit on the Periodic Table, the cubing activity is best for assessing their knowledge of the content in question.  In this way, cubes can be used in the classroom as a means to conclude a particular unit.

For a popular children's book, I think that a cube can look in some distinct ways.  If one were to compose a cube on Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, the six sides could feature the following tasks:

  • Side 1:  Compose a timeline consisting of the most important 15 items in the novel.  Explain why each is significant underneath the timeline.
  • Side 2:  Using at least three supports, debate the following statement:  "Brian survives his ordeal in the wilderness because of luck."
  • Side 3:  Create a playlist of ten songs that Brian would have had on his iPod that communicate about his experience and the need for him to survive.
  • Side 4:  Compose five diary entries from different points in Brian's survival in the wild.  They have to reference specific events from the story, as well as personalized reflection about what is actually happening to you as Brian.
  • Side 5:  Explain how Brian's experience connects to the following:  A lotus flower, an old brown shoe, a supernova, a religious scripture, and Oscar the Grouch.  Each object has to specifically connect to Brian's experience and his interpretation of it.
  • Side 6:  The school board has decided to take a vote to ban the reading of Paulsen's Hatchet.  The School Board President has confided in you that whatever decision you feel is best is what the board will vote upon.  They will take your recommendation as the vote.  Compose a speech in which you explain your point of view so that the board will vote the way you want them to.

From this activity using the cubing approach, it is evident that differentiation, a wide range of learning, and students' learning needs have been met in the assignment. 

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