One of the things that my students will be assessed on in their Personal Narratives is the idea of cause and effect. After I had already assigned the PN’s and I was rereading the rubric and our district's Curriculum Guide, I noticed that cause and effect was weighed pretty heavily. For the Guiding Question, I knew I wanted to connect our Anchor Text/Read Aloud to their Personal Narratives, so I opened up the question:
“Often cause and effect play a part in a good narrative. Give an example of cause and effect in Ninth Ward.”
After kids were finished writing, I had them share with an elbow partner an example of cause and effect in Ninth Ward. Then, we shared out as a class. This is where I was able to address some misconceptions, and I gave them the example that if you trip (cause), you may fall down (effect). To really nail the point home, I gave several other examples.
I used a Read Aloud to show my students that the organizational pattern of Cause/Effect can be found in a lot of narratives, certainly the one we are already reading--Ninth Ward. For the Read Aloud, I stopped intermittently and talked about cause/effect. For example, “Mama YaYa and Lanesa stayed in New Orleans (cause), and were able to take care of Spot (effect).” Or, “Lanesha helps Tashon (cause), so they become friends (effect).” Because Cause and Effect is sometimes an organizational pattern that is only obvious after reading a good chunk of the book--and only after some main events--it's hard to give students that perspective. It's important to try to find smaller, more minute examples to give to kids.
While I'm reading, students keep track of these causes and effects by jotting down what I say in their Writer's Notebooks. We use the same notebook for their Guiding Questions, daily Reflections, and various notes.
It might be wise to do one example with them before you release them. Although Cause and Effect sounds simple enough, it is sometimes tricky to identify in a text--especially for struggling readers, who are trying to comprehend the text before they can identify an organizational pattern.
For the second part of work time, as part of a revision, I had kids go back and add the cause and effect model into their narratives.
For the reflection portion of my lesson, I had the kids pass their Personal Narrative Drafts to another student. This student was asked to locate a cause and effect. If they could not find cause/effect, the writer understood that he or she needed to revise.
Most kids already had an unintentional Cause and Effect in them. Like, "I broke my arm (effect) because I was riding my bike down the hill too fast (cause)." I wanted kids to be absolutely sure that this pattern was clear and explicit, though. If it was kind of subtle, I wanted them to make it more obvious--and it required only a little bit of revision.