Students At Work: Cause and Effect Literacy Workstations

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SWBAT apply knowledge of previously learned 5th grade reading standards and text structures in a small group setting.

Big Idea

You learned about cause and effect structures, now let's get to work using them!

Introduction and Expectations

5 minutes

See my first workstation lesson for complete details.

Students will rotate through 3 stations today for 15 minutes at a time. Today, students will work on current concepts of text structures and past common core standards.

The stations I included today are based upon needs in my classroom. You may change out any station for something that works better for your students this year. Today I am also opting to be one of the stations to meet with all of my students during the rotations. Although a large portion of my class excels in reading, I still need to work with them in the small setting from time to time. 

Today I will form my groups based on the formative I previously gave. My results were 13- 100s, 2- 85s, 13- 70s and 2- 65s. So I will have 10 students in the advanced group. The other 5 students will make up the average group as there are 5 students who are inconsistent in reading and could use additional support even though they scored an 85 or 100. The average group will be made up of those 5 and 5 students who scored 70%  but they usually are my advanced readers. The inconsistent group will be made up of my 65s and 70s.  

I use the SMART board to show my rotations so they can be moved easily, but you might use pocket charts, writing on the white board, etc. Review the stations for the day and expected behaviors.

Teacher station: To continue work with RL5.5 cause and effect structure, I will meet with all of my groups to practice understanding what this structure looks like. 

Reader's Theater: Students will work on the cause and effect text structure and practice their fluency at the same time. I like these reader's theater scripts because they further explain the structure. 

Prefix and Suffix Spoons Game: Students will practice affix knowledge L.5.4B in this station. They'll play a game that requires them to use the skills to work with words. 


45 minutes


Reader's Theater: I'll break the students into two groups of 4 or 5. Students will read aloud from the Cause and Effect Reader's Theater script I found on this site. I also have them record themselves reading using vocaroo internet voice recorder, a tape recorder, or the sound recorder on the windows computer systems. I have one group use a tape recorder and the other uses a microphone on the computer. That way we make the most of large groups and limited time. There are probably others that you may have access to as well. To complete the station, students will listen to themselves and complete a student fluency self-eval for themselves and turn it in to me.

Teacher Station: My students were showing some difficulty with the descriptive formative. Half the class chose the cause and effect paragraph as the descriptive paragraph, so today I am going to use some descriptive and cause/effect paragraphs to hunt for clue words in each. 

I’ll be using passages from an online resource I found, but you may use any resources you have for this skill. When I started teaching the standards a few years ago, it was tough building my arsenal of text structure. Teachers pay teachers is also filled with some great structure-specific passages. 

This teacher has a great selection of texts for 5th grade. The complexity is suitable for our students, the topics are interesting and the passages are filled with the elements of each structure. I also like that they are short. Sometimes with longer nonfiction texts, we’ll find a few different structures. When I’m teaching each structure, I like to only focus on one at a time and gradually build up to more complex texts. 

  • Advanced group- I'll give students one passage at a time, but I won’t tell students what passage they have. Students will read once and then read again to underline key words. They'll use color to do this. They can use one color to find the cause and effect words in that passage and another to find the descriptive words in the other passage. I want to try to let them try to guess the structures in the passage and then give them some time to discuss their findings. I'll serve as the facilitator to guide discussion and try not to jump in with the answers.
  • Average group- I want to read and model thinking for a paragraph or two of both passages.  I'll start with one passage and think aloud about the key words that I notice. Then do the same for the next passage. These kiddos can finish reading on their own, continuing to underline key words. When they finish up, I'll ask them if they have enough evidence to support that one is the cause and effect structure and the other is descriptive. I want to really hit home the fact that descriptive should describe an event, topic or person. Cause and effect will explain why an event happened or what happened because of the event. This is the concept that they confused on the formative, so keep repeating, discussing, and drilling it.
  • Inconsistent group- Delivery here depends on your kids. I’m planning to model reading and thinking about the first paragraph in the descriptive text. Then I’ll let them read a paragraph at a time. They can mark the key words in that paragraph and then we’ll stop to discuss and confirm thoughts. We’ll continue in this manner through both texts. I plan to use the same text because my inconsistent students don’t struggle too much with word recognition, they just have a hard time sustaining focus. I like to give them lots of practice with annotating and color coding because this helps them stay focused. I just have to continue to model my expectations until it becomes second nature for them to pull out the pencil and interact on their own. 

Here is a SMART notebook example of the ideas my average group came up with. I let them come up to the board to show their thinking as we moved through the lesson. 

Roots Station: Students will read the directions and play this Roots and Affixed Spoons Game I found for free on teachers pay teachers. It's a basic review of prefixes and suffixes. Here are a few of my Students Playing Spoons.

When the rotations are over, open the class to a discussion about how the workstations went. Ask students to reflect on their behavior and focus during the stations, how they worked with peers, etc. Lead students in thinking about what they might do differently next time and discuss ways that you could improve stations in the future.