Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Main Idea: Cause and Effect (Lesson 8)

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Lesson Objective

Some texts have a cause and effect organization. Authors use this structure when their main idea is about how one thing causes another. You can outline this organization in a chain.

Lesson Plan

Lesson 8: (This lesson is continued from Lesson 6 and 7)

Standard: Identify and use knowledge of the organizational structure of a text: main idea and supporting examples (web), chronological order (chain), compare and contrast (T-chart), cause and effect (chain), problem/solution (T-chart).

Use text structure to identify the main idea and supporting details in articles. 


Big Idea:  Writers help their readers understand the text by organizing their text in logical ways so readers read non-fiction texts differently, depending on their structure.

Writers write non-fiction to teach the reader about one main idea.  It is the job of a reader to figure out the main thing that the writer is trying to teach you.  You can use the organizational structure to figure out the main idea in nonfiction.   


Teaching Point: Some texts have a cause and effect organization. 


Reading Workshop: Reading binders, highlighters and pencils, copies of “Splitting Up,” (Weekly Reader Science  Spin May/June 2010), mix of NF articles

 Read Aloud: Reading binders, One Hen


Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • [Review big ideas from chart]
  • Readers, we started this unit on nonfiction organization by talking about the sequence organization.  Then we learned that authors use a compare/contrast organization if their main idea is about how things are the same and how they are different.  Then, yesterday we learned that when an author has a main idea about how something can cause something else, then the author uses a cause/effect organizational structure. 
  • Today, we are going to read a really short article that has a main idea with a cause/effect structure.  One Hen had a long cause and effect chain because there were lots of things caused by one thing – Kojo getting the loan for the hen.  This article is more like the one about the weaver ants that we read yesterday – it is much simpler.
  • I am going to pass out copies of the article to you.  On the attached piece of paper, write the title of the article we are reading, “Splitting Up,” on the top of the page and leave room for the main idea. 
  • What do we do first?  We read the title and look at the graphic features.  Is this part called “The Weirdest Volcano” part of the article?  Nope, it’s like a text box – related but not the same.
  • Let’s read the introduction.  [Read.]  Do we know the main idea yet?  [yes – A new ocean will one day separate Africa.] 
  • Let’s read “Spreading Apart” and see if there is anything to put on our outline. [see sample chain on the next page]
  • Let’s read “A Natural Lab” and see if there is anything to add from that part.  [see next page]
  • Readers, how does this chain connect to the main idea?  It explains how plates move and pull apart to create cracks in the earth.  So could the author have just picked another organizational structure?  No, because the organization has to match the main idea – that something is causing a new ocean to be created in Africa.
  • [T&T – tell partners why authors use a cause and effect organization]
  • Share: Share what you think the organizational structure of your text is.


Chain example:


Earth is made up of plates. The two major plates in Africa are pulling away from each other.

This is causing the African plate to split into pieces.

The cracking of the African plate causes volcanoes and earthquakes.

These natural disasters created huge cracks in Africa

Someday the cracks will widen so much that water will rush into it. 


Read Aloud Lesson: (Continued from Lessons 6 and 7)

  • We have been reading One Hen, a cause/effect text. We learned how authors use a cause and effect organization when the author wants to teach us how one thing made something else happen. 
  • In read aloud, we are going to practice writing clear, specific responses to books just like we do with the articles in reading workshop. This is today’s OR topic [put up topic.] This question has three parts to it, so we will need to answer each one specifically. On the same piece of paper where you wrote your cause and effect chain, copy down the question correctly. Where could we find evidence for the answer to the first part of the question? I am going to start reading at the part of the book where Kojo starts making money. Raise your hand if you find a piece of evidence that belongs in our answer. [Read and find evidence. Then T&T to come up with a 1-2 sentence response. Repeat for the other two parts of the question. Put lined paper back in the “Read Aloud” section of their binders.]



Lesson Resources

Lesson 8 Non-fiction Chart and Open Response.docx  


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