Cubing:  writing, reading and reflecting tool that can be valuable for looking at something from different perspectives. You can choose almost any topic for a cubing activity.

Example topic:  My group project

Instructions:  read through the ‘cube faces’ below and check two that you like, or are surprised at.  Spend two minutes in free-write on each of your two chosen cube-faces. You will be asked to share one in discussion with others.

After the free-writes, see how many in the large group chose each type. Ask people in small groups (of 4 or 5) to see what variety they have. Groups then share something they have written.  One cube face each, and free to decide if the group chooses variety (share a cube face different to what others shared) or focus (e.g. if all in a group had a cube face in common they may want to share that one).

Cube faces: 

Describe:  Present an overview of your experiences, views and some form of ‘timeline’.  Where did you start from, where are you now and where might you go from here?

Analyze:  What are the constituent parts? How are they related? If you were showing examples, what would they be?

Compare: How is the topic similar to other things you have done?  How is it different?  What other associations might there be?

Create an Analogy:  The topic is like a….. or reminds me of….. Need some ideas to get started?  movie, adventure, landscape, flower; OR, revisit a time or place (relate to what you’ve learned or how you’ll apply it, or write a story, or…..

Argue for it:  Start out ‘right’; say all the things that are good about what you are doing on the topic. Praise the topic lavishly. Convince others. Be confident.

Argue against it: It might not add significant value because….. It won’t work because….

Other tips on using cubing as a journaling activity: You may wish to debrief the activity after using it in your course. For example, the value of Describe is that it may make you realize that you don’t have to do it all yourself.  You have part of it, and can talk and work with others to fill in the rest.  Analyzing might show the importance of communicating what you are doing to others. Arguing for it might be an opportunity for reflection, while Argue against it might allow the worries and concerns lurking within us to be ‘said’ so that perhaps we can see there might be solutions to them (or decide that it is enough reason not to do it.

A note about the cube faces:  In adapting this for your own use, change the cube faces as needed.  Anticipate concerns, interests, and relevant ways to think about the topic.

An additional writing exercise is to cap the session by asking participants to write for one minute on ‘From this exercise I learned….. 

When I did this activity in a Teaching Portfolio workshop led by Barbara Cambridge, she also asked us to sign and date our writing for future reference. I first did this on April 30, 2003!  I hope it might inspire you to try it as a journaling activity in your class or other setting.

Resources on Cubing:

Tracy Duckart’s Instructional Website at Humboldt State University:

Gives some alternative cube faces, other instructions, and links to related material on writing, free-writing, dialoguing, listing and matrixing.

Cubing:  A 3-D Approach to Brainstorming

Provides another perspective and many links to related topics


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