In previous lessons, we have discussed text structures like cause and effect. We also have used The Gingerbread Man stories to practice some of reading strategies and skills. To begin this new lesson on cause and effect, I start by asking what we did with the other gingerbread books.
My class discusses description as a text structure as well as compare and contrast. I then asked them to explain the comparing and contrasting activity we did. This is easy for them, and it is a perfect entry into today's lesson.
This lesson is centered around identifying cause and effect relationships within a text. I let them know that cause and effect will be our focus and I state that the objective for the lesson is to identify these relationships and then use them to write a response.
We start by reviewing cause and effect. I first give them time to try and answer and build on each other's responses. I prompt when needed. I then ask them to help me with some examples, this is where I will give a missing cause or effect and they will tell me the part that I left out. I start with I have a cavity and am at the dentist. What are some possible causes? I then use the example of reading a whole book over the holiday break, what will the effect be?
With our review over, we are ready to begin. I ask them to all take out their white boards. They will need to draw a T-Chart on it. I have to model what this looks like for a few students. I draw one at the front of the room.
With a T-Chart drawn, they now need to label the two sides. With the lesson focus on cause and effect, I ask the class what they think would be smart titles for the two sides. A few think that I am giving a trick question, but they soon realize that it was supposed to easy. They do come up with the titles of cause and effect.
To explain what they will be doing on the white boards I ask them to pay close attention so they can determine what the expectation of the activity is. I will be reading a story and their job is to listen carefully and record any cause and effect relationships. I explain that I will model the first one for them and allow them to add it to their white boards. A good model can really help ensure that they can participate in the activity.
The story I am reading is The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrum. I read the first two pages and then model a cause and effect relationship from the book. I write it on the white board on my T Chart. I then ask for questions and prompt them with questions too. I ask if someone can tell me how I figured this out, why I might have chosen this one, and how did I write it into my notes. This is how I gauge their understanding of the directions.
I continue to read the story and stop about every two pages to give time for writing.
The perfect cause and effect relationship comes at the end of the book. Most students have an easy time with this last relationship. If you use this lesson with a different book, I would make sure that the ending has this same obvious cause and effect relationship. This way there is a connection made with the class right at the end to help them start their writing.
To help the class begin their writing response we review the purpose of an introduction. I then begin by explaining how we might start a paragraph that focuses on explaining case and effect. I model how I might start two different introductions, but I do not make either one a complete sentence. The reason I tell my class is that they can choose one of the introductions but need to finish it with their own words. I remind them that if we all copied the same sentence it would be more like first grade and they have great ideas that are unique so I want to hear them.
The firs thing I ask them to do is choose a starting introduction phrase. I then model some possible ways I might try to complete either selection to make a good introduction. I do not write them on the board. This keeps from them copying and creating their own sentences. I now give them time to write their introduction.
Here are the sentence starters I wrote:
"The author used cause and effect to ...."
"In the story Gingerbread Pirates, the author, used cause and effect ..."
With the introduction out of the way, it is now time to focus on the body. This is where I explain how they will use their notes from their white boards to generate their evidence. To model, I use the first relationship I modeled for them when I began reading aloud. I use this to form a sentence that proves my introduction that the author used cause and effect.
I explain that they need to try and choose two pieces of evidence for their body. I again give some examples of how they might form these sentences. Again, I do not write these on the board and wnat them to try to generate their own.
While they are writing I am walking around and assisting students with this piece. I help them with word order or making sure the gist matches the introduction. I did find that one group of students, who sit together, did not understand what to do. I met with them as a group and went back over the directions.
The final piece is the closing statement. To close, I am encouraging my class to go back and give their opinion or a comment about cause and effect. I model this again by using a superhero movie as an example. I explain that most action movies are full of cause and effect. That it adds to the story and can make things very interesting.
In the case of our writing I give them examples of how I might close the paragraph restating the introduction and adding my thoughts. This part is the easiest for them to write. They all have an idea that cause and effect made the story better. I am sure they are all not sure why that is yet. With more practice, I am hoping that will come.