Susan Riley | July 2014

Puzzle Cube: Arts Integration Strategy

Another arts integration strategy is headed your way to help fill your integration toolbox over these summer months.  Today’s strategy is called Puzzle Cube and it’s based upon the idea of a Rubik’s Cube.  Those tricky puzzle cubes have confounded people for decades, but their use of a grid and color blocks makes it a great prompt for an arts integration strategy.

Basic Steps:

1. Divide the class into 6 groups.  Each group must have the same amount of students.  If there are remaining students, these will act as your “twisters”.

2. Provide each group with a set of single-colored cards. For instance, group one received yellow cards, group two receives red cards, etc.  There should be enough cards for each student in the group.

3. Provide all students with a problem surrounding a focal topic.  For example, you may provide a math word problem, or a current world crisis.

4. Allow each group time to work together to solve the problem within a set amount of steps.  The amount of steps is dependent upon the amount of students in the group.  For instance, if there are 6 students in a group, they may only document 6 steps to solve the problem.

5. Each student should take one of the steps and write it on their colored card.

6. Provide each group with an arts entry point (drama, dance, music, art).  Two will have the same arts entry point.

7. Ask each group to be able to demonstrate their solution steps on their cards through their arts entry point.

8. Each group then performs or presents their solution sequence cards for the class using their arts entry point.

9. After the first round of presentations/performances is over, the Twisters can select students from any group and move them to another group (effectively twisting the puzzle cubes).

10. Students must work to re-solve the original problem incorporating their new arts cards and solution steps into their group.  Perform or present the new solution sets.

This strategy is very versatile.  If you are working on exploring the elements of a specific art form, each group could be limited to that art’s elements rather than using all of the art forms.  You can use this strategy for exploring any kind of problem or inquiry.  Additionally, your “twisters” could choose to sub-in for any student that they wish to make it even more challenging.  The student they sub-in for then becomes a “twister” instead.

How would you use this strategy?  Are there any others that you have in your toolbox you’d like to share?  

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan