Using Newsela Articles to Teach Cause and Effect Mapping to Elementary Students

Students map cause and effect relationships using annotations and a graphic organizer
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How to Use Newsela to Practice Cause and Effect Mapping

About This Strategy

Identifying the cause and effect in a text is often a challenging skill for students. In this strategy, students are introduced to the concept of cause and effect and then observe the teacher modeling how to identify the cause and effect in a text. Then students work independently to determine the cause and effect relationships throughout a Newsela article and use this information to complete a graphic organizer. Students can then demonstrate their understanding of cause and effect by synthesizing the information they learned into a written response.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Select a Newsela article related to your curriculum that shows cause/effect relationships (or choose one of the example articles below).

  2. Fill in the cause/effect blank graphic organizer to prepare to model finding cause and effect in a text, or reference one of the teacher/student examples (see in the resources section below).


Student Preparation:

  1. Introduce the terms "cause and effect" using slide 1 of the Cause/Effect Relationships Presentation (see in the resources section below).

  2. Allow students to brainstorm other cause/effect relationships.

  3. Model how to fill in the graphic organizer and create a written response. See slide 2 of the Cause/Effect Relationships Presentation (in the resources section below).

    • Please note: you can remove the gray text box at the bottom of slide 2 to reveal the example written response.

  4. Connect this procedure to finding cause/effect relationships in text.

    • Demonstrate how to highlight green/red information within the text and use it to fill in the graphic organizer and the written response.

    • See slides 3 and 4 of the Cause/Effect Relationships Presentation for an example using the Food Allergy article (in the resources section below).

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Assign the Newsela article of your choice with the following instructions: "Read the article once using your strategies. Then, read the article a second time and highlight the CAUSES in green and the EFFECTS in red."

  2. Review slide 3 and display slide 5 of the Cause/Effects Relationships Presentation as a reference (in the resources section below).

  3. Circulate the room, checking that students are following the instructions, and provide additional support as needed.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  • Distribute the blank graphic organizer and writing prompt to students.

  • Remind students to go back to the Newsela article as often as they need in order to complete the task.

  • Require students to have the teacher check the graphic organizer before they begin writing their response.

  • Once students have completed their writing, encourage them to go back to check their writing for complete sentences, capitalization, spelling, and punctuation. See slide 6 of the Cause/Effect Relationships Presentation in the resources section below.

  • Have students engage in a "Think, Pair, Share" to respond to the following closure questions (to learn more about the "Think, Pair, Share" strategy, consult the BetterLesson Lab). Then have students share their answers with the class. (See slide 7 of the Cause/Effect Relationships Presentation in the resources section below).

    • How did identifying the causes/effects in the text help you understand what you were reading?

    • Why is figuring out the relationship between a cause and an effect important?

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

How Do Glasses Help Us See?

  • Essential Question: How do glasses help us see?
  • Grade Level: 3-5
  • Content Area: Science

Text Set Title: What Causes a Food Allergy?

  • Essential Question: What causes a food allergy?
  • Grade Level: 3-5
  • Content Area: ELA/Health

Text Set Title: What Causes the Seasons?

  • Essential Question: What causes the seasons?
  • Grade Level: 3-5
  • Content Area: Science

Special Education Modification

For students with a learning disability such as dysgraphia or who struggle with executive functioning, additional scaffolding can help students find success.  


  • Provide the cause and effect information on strips of paper. Have students use the information in the article to determine which cause and effect are related. Then students can place them on the graphic organizer appropriately.

  • Students who are resistant to writing or struggle with fine motor skills may prefer to copy and paste the causes and effects onto an electronic copy of the graphic organizer and then use the voice typing feature in google docs (under tools in the menu) to record their written response.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you have students who could use an extra challenge? Provide them with a blank organizer and allow them to determine which cause/effect relationships to add.

Teacher Tips

Christine Scoppa
Newsela Master Teacher
  • Different Lexile levels will have slight variances in the information provided. Make sure that your graphic organizer is general enough that it will work for each of the article levels of your students.

  • If you search "Big Questions" using the Newsela Search and Navigation bar, you'll find a vast resource of articles that can be used for this activity. You can further refine your search by clicking "Suggested For" or "Text Level" to ensure appropriate reading levels for your students.