P.S. I use Read Write Think weekly for reading and language arts lessons for my students.
Expository texts are a key component of literacy but often do not get introduced to students until the later grades. This lesson helps third- through fifth-grade students explore the nature and structure of expository texts that focus on cause and effect. Students begin by activating prior knowledge about cause and effect; the teacher then models discovering these relationships in a text and recording in a graphic organizer what the relationships that the class finds. Students work in small groups to apply what they learned using related books and then write paragraphs outlining the cause-and-effect relationships they have found.
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
|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:
|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.
|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.
|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).
|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.
|Make a copy of the Cause-and-Effect Graphic Organizer Rubric, Cause-and-Effect Paragraph Rubric, and Sample Paragraph for each student.
|Activate prior knowledge about cause and effect by suggesting that a student (or pair of students) act out what happens when he or she eats too much too quickly or when he or she does not get enough sleep.
|When the student is finished ask the class what the end result is (i.e., a stomachache); explain that this is the effect. Ask students to tell you what has caused this effect (i.e., shoveling in large amounts of food). Ask students what they think a cause-and-effect structure is, soliciting examples that you write on the board or chart paper. Additional discussion questions include: Where do they think they might see cause and effect? What type of book or text might contain this kind of structure?
|Introduce the graphic organizer using either the ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool or the organizer you prepared on chart paper. Discuss the importance of organizing ideas and concepts from informational text. Ask students questions such as:
|As you begin to read Danger! Volcanoes by Seymour Simon aloud, model the thought process behind discovering cause-and-effect relationships. For example, say something like, "As I begin reading Danger! Volcanoes, I see that there are lots of interesting pictures of volcanoes in this book. I bet I will learn some new information about volcanoes when I read this book." After reading the second page of the book say, "I wonder what causes the volcano to erupt? I bet I will learn that when I read further." After reading the next page say, "I see a key word that makes me think there is a cause-and-effect relationship on this page. The word cause tells me that there is a cause-and-effect relationship described here. The eruption of the volcano can cause dangerous slides of lava, rock, ash, mud, and water.'"
|After beginning the modeling, ask students to think about other cause-and-effect relationships they can find as you finish reading the book aloud to them.
|Fill in the graphic organizer by guiding students to share the cause-and-effect relationships they heard while listening to the book. Ask guiding questions such as, "What happens after a volcano erupts?" and "Do different types of volcanoes act differently when they erupt?" This should spark some ideas about cause-and-effect relationships that you can then type into the web or write on the chart paper. If you are using the ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool, print it when you are finished.
|After completing the organizer, review the key words that signal a cause-and-effect relationship (e.g., if, so, so that, because of, as a result of, since, in order to, cause, and effect) Record this list on chart paper for future reference.
Note: If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, this session will take place in the computer lab. You should display the graphic organizer and list of key words you completed with students during Session 1. You will also need to bring the texts you have assembled for students to read (see Preparation, Step 3).
|Distribute the Cause-and-Effect Graphic Organizer Rubric and review it with students. Explain that you will use it to assess the organizers they create in their groups and that they will be using their graphic organizers to write paragraphs during Session 3.
|Students should work in groups to read a different example of an expository text about natural disasters. For this lesson, it works very well to assign students in groups with a wide range of ability levels. This allows them to help one another discover cause-and-effect relationships. Groups of three or four work best to keep every student involved.
|For the first reading of the books, groups should focus on discovering the cause-and-effect relationships within the text. The groups may then have a short discussion of their ideas.
|As students read the text for a second time, they should record the cause-and-effect relationships they encounter in the ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool. Groups should find at least four cause-and-effect relationships from their text.
|Circulate while groups are working to provide support and answer questions as necessary.
|Students should print out one copy of their organizer for each group member when they finish. Tell them that they will be using their graphic organizers to write a paragraph during Session 3.
|After all groups complete their graphic organizers, return to the classroom to discuss the findings. Each group may share an example of a cause-and-effect relationship from their book. Ask students about the key words they found in their text. Questions for discussion include:
|Pass out and review the Sample Paragraph and the Cause-and-Effect Paragraph Rubric and review them with students.
|Show students the Essay Map and have them use the tool to map out their paragraphs. Tell them to use the tool as follows:
|Students should use the information on their graphic organizers to write clear paragraphs that include information about at least three cause-and-effect relationships from their expository text.