Sometimes you need to really get in there and get messy… If your students are, well, like students, they may have a tendency to gloss over an issue or fail to take the time to dig deeper during research. Cubing is one way you can meet students on their level and then pull them to where you want them to be. It can be done in groups or as individuals. You can use it informally or formally.
I used cubing as a prewriting activity before a nonfiction writing assignment for the Society of Professional Journalists’ essay contest: “Why is it important for journalists to seek the news and report it?” My students initial brainstorms yielded predictable, flat, and basically uninformed responses. I decided we were not ready for such a heavy question. We needed more time to research and more context. After doing an informal cubing pre-write, my students wrote with a better understanding of its importance and incorporated more concrete evidence. They were better prepared to make parallels between investigative stories and distinguish differences between different countries’ governments treatment of the media.
Here is an example that helped me make sense of it all from Kentucky’s List of Differentiation Strategies:
- Describe the Civil War.
- Compare the Civil War to another war.
- Associate the Civil War with other issues, topics, or concerns.
- Analyze the Civil War by discussing the events and decisions that led to the war.
- Apply the lessons you’ve learned from studying the Civil War. How does learning about the Civil War help you understand events, issues, topics, and decisions that still exist today?
- Argue for or against the Civil War. Should the war ever have been fought? Take a stand and list your reasons.