Cause and Effect is the backbone of books and literature. In any great book, one event happens, which leads to another, then another, and so on until a story is woven and an emotional experience has occurred. As true as this is for narrative text, Cause and Effect is the driving force behind most informational text also. Any biography is a series of Cause and Effect leading to a historical figures greatest life moments. A book that teaches about animals offers example after example of Cause and Effect. A chemistry book is a chain of Cause and Effect situations. For these reasons and many more, it is important for students to understand this concept and apply it to enhance their comprehension.
I like to spend a sufficient amount of time on each strategy to allow for an introduction, modeling, scaffolding, independent practice, assessment, and reflection. Therefore, I spend approximately 1 week on each strategy and follow a similar instructional routine. This is day 2 of Cause and Effect Week – Modeling/Scaffolding.
Connection: I always start by connecting today’s lesson to something kids have previously learned so that it triggers their schema and background knowledge. Since this is the second day they are learning about Cause and Effect, I make a connection to the introduction lesson we did yesterday. I remind students that the strategy we are working on this week is called Cause and Effect. They love to repeat words so I ask them to say it with me again. Of course, I want to remind them what Cause and Effect is, which is what you see in your mind as you are reading. I refer to the Cause and Effect anchor chart from the day before.
Teaching Point: This is when I tell kids explicitly what we will be working on. I say, “Today, we are going to look at some familiar text from books we’ve read together and look for examples of Cause and Effect. When I want to model a strategy, I copy a page from 4 different books that we’ve already read together in class. This way, they are already familiar with the text and understand the context of the excerpts that I’ve chosen. I usually staple the excerpts in a small packet that I hand out to each student so they can follow along as I model the strategy. I then use the “To, With, and By” method of instruction to scaffold their learning. With the first example, I read the excerpt TO the class and model the strategy by thinking out loud. I am teaching the strategy TO them. I write down an example of Cause and Effect on the corresponding page in the packet. With the second example, I do the strategy WITH them. I ask them to read along with me and then I ask them to share an example of Cause and Effect. We write down their thoughts on the corresponding page in the packet. With the third example, I want the students to do it BY themselves, which leads us to the active engagement.
Active Engagement: This is where students get to try out the strategy that I just taught them. I ask them to read the third excerpt and try the strategy on their own. Since we are working on Cause and Effect, they are supposed to identify examples of it and write their thoughts on the corresponding page in the packet. I give the students a few minutes then call on someone to share.
Link to Ongoing Work: During this portion of the mini-lesson, I give the students a task that they will focus on during Independent Reading time. Now that they’ve practiced Cause and Effect, I tell them that during Independent Reading, their job is to finish the last excerpt in the packet. I want to give them one last opportunity to practice the strategy with text that I’ve chosen before they apply it to a text of their choice, which will happen the next day. This task is short and sweet so the students know that once it is completed, they read from their browsing box for the remainder of Independent Reading time. At the end of Reader’s Workshop, they will meet with their assigned reading partner to discuss what they wrote on the corresponding page in the packet. I remind them that I will randomly choose a few students to share so that they make sure to complete their task.
Examples of Cause and Effect can be found in any Read Aloud book, but the If you Give series by Laura Numeroff is especially great for teaching this concept. The first one, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie (Numeroff, Laura Joffe, and Felicia Bond. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Chicago: Laura Geringer Book, 1996. Print.), is a fun book for kids that demonstrates both Cause and Effect and sequencing. This is a great resource for continuing work with this strategy.
Transition Time: Every day after the mini-lesson, students get 5 minutes of Prep Time to choose new books (if needed), find a comfy spot, use the bathroom, and anything else they might need to do to prepare for 40 minutes of uninterrupted Independent Reading.
Guided Practice: Today, I will be conferencing with students right at their comfy spots and asking them to show me the work they’ve completed in their packet. This is also when I could pull students for assessments, one-on-one reading, strategy groups, or guided reading groups.
Closing: At the end of 40 minutes, I remind students that their job during reading time was to complete the last page of their Cause and Effect packet. I ask them to repeat the term, Cause and Effect. Then I ask them to meet with their reading partner to share and discuss what they wrote. Did you find any similar examples? After partners have had a chance to share with each other, I ask a few students to share with the class. I then tell the class that we will continue to focus on Cause and Effect for the rest of the week. I tell them to take their packets home to show their parents the strategy we are working on.