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Lesson Plan

Exploring Cause and Effect Using Expository Texts About Natural Disasters

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Exploring Cause and Effect Using Expository Texts About Natural Disasters

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 30- to 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Leliaert

Fishers, Indiana


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives





  • Danger! Volcanoes by Seymour Simon (SeaStar Books; 2002)

  • Computer with Internet access

  • LCD projector

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Essay Map

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Essay Map

The Essay Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to organize and outline their ideas for an informational, definitional, or descriptive essay.


ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool

The Webbing Tool provides a free-form graphic organizer for activities that ask students to pursue hypertextual thinking and writing.


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1. Before completing this lesson, students should have background information about what expository texts are, how they are structured, and how they are different from fiction. You might want to prepare students by conducting the following lessons:

2. Obtain and familiarize yourself with an expository text that uses a cause-and-effect structure. This lesson uses Danger! Volcanoes by Seymour Simon. Familiarize yourself with the structure of the text and locate key words that signal cause-and-effect relationships. These words include cause, effect, because, if, and then.

3. Obtain copies of additional books that use a cause-and-effect structure. The Natural Disaster Booklist includes books that relate to the theme of this lesson. If you are using a book other than Danger! Volcanoes, you will want to find books that deal with a similar topic.

4. Visit the ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool and the Essay Map and familiarize yourself with their use so you can explain them to students. You will be creating a cause-and-effect map for Danger! Volcanoes (see the Sample Graphic Organizer for Danger! Volcanoes). If you have a classroom computer with Internet access and an LCD projector available, arrange to use them during Session 1. If not, create a blank cause-and-effect map on chart paper (see Blank Graphic Organizer).

5. If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, reserve two 30- to 45-minute sessions in your school's computer lab (see Sessions 2 and 3). Bookmark the ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool and the Essay Map on your classroom or lab computers.

6. Make a copy of the Cause-and-Effect Graphic Organizer Rubric, Cause-and-Effect Paragraph Rubric, and Sample Paragraph for each student.

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