Use Cubing to Write Descriptive Passages

 ESL Writing Lesson Ideas

Do some of your ESL students have a hard time coming up with ideas in the writing class? Here’s one possible solution.

Cubing in the ESL Writing Class

Cubing is a framework to generate text ideas by looking at a subject from multiple perspectives. It’s a practical thinking skill which can benefit students in other fields of learning, such as critical reading.

This lesson plan uses cubing to help students generate ideas for a creative writing story. If you prefer, download the pdf file with the cubing ESL writing activity lesson plan.

Step 1 Intro

A cube is a shape with six sides. In this exercise, we use a cube as a metaphor to prompt six kinds of questions about something. Each question gives you a different way to look at an idea or object. The answers provide lots of information. That information helps you add detail to your writing. More detail means your writing will be more interesting.

Step 2 Six Questions

  1. DESCRIBE: What is the idea? What does the object look like? Describe it with words about the senses.
  2. COMPARE: Is it similar to another thing or idea?
  3. CONTRAST: How is it different from others? What makes it unique?
  4. ANALYZE: Divide the whole thing into smaller parts.
  5. APPLY: How can it be used? Who uses it? What can we learn from it?
  6. ARGUE: What do you think about it? Good or bad? Right or wrong? Yes or no? Explain your decision with reasons.

Step 3 Pre-Writing Notes

Use the cubing framework to make notes about the things in the hamburger picture.

ESL writing activities cubing

Step 3 Writing

Students use their notes to write a 1 to 2 page story.

Step 4 Model Story

This step is optional. Show students this model story if they need help while writing. Or, display the story after students have completed a first draft. Review story and identity the answers to each question in the cubing framework.

For people who love meat, this mouth-watering restaurant meal is a great choice for lunch, or dinner. It looks tasty, tastes greasy, and smells wonderful.

Burgers are a regular part of family gatherings during the summer. Plumes of smoke rising from the grill and the sizzle of beef cooking over hot charcoal are two signs that it’s almost time to eat. But, this burger set is better than what you’ll find at a family BBQ. Not many people take the time to make a chicken bacon burger. It’s a lot of work. Usually, my uncle cooks a beef patty and drops it on a naked bun.

Look at how much worked was needed to build this big, beautiful burger: a grilled chicken breast with lettuce and two pieces of bacon inside a warm bun. And then there’s the garden salad!

Did I mention careful cooking? That’s what you need to make fries at home. Mine never turn out golden brown like the ones in a restaurant. Some are cold and some are burned. Here’s what I have learned after many kitchen disasters: if you want a really good burger with all the toppings, you have to eat out.

Unfortunately, I don’t eat burgers anymore. I love them, but they don’t love me. They make me fat. When I go to a restaurant, I order a big green salad, and skip the burger and fries.

Step 5 More Picture Prompts

If you need additional picture prompts for this ESL writing activity, here are a couple of images. (BTW, use of these images complies with the owners’ Creative Commons licence.)

ESL writing activity two boys

ESL writing lesson ideas Louvre

Did you like this writing activity?

It’s a lesson from a new teacher’s resource I’ve written called Teach Writing Thinkingly. It’s coming out early March 2017.

If you like these lesson ideas, why not buy one of my ebooks and help support this site.


Teach writing?

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