July 31, 2018
By Caitlin Hardeman

Lesson plan

Nonfiction Comprehension: Cause and Effect

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Do you need extra help for EL students? Try the Signal Cause and EffectPre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Do you need extra help for EL students? Try the Signal Cause and EffectPre-lesson.

Students will be able to identify and describe cause and effect relationships in informational text.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students that they are going to be working in partners for most of today's lesson, and they will play a matching game to find out who their partner is.
  • Give each student an index card with part of a cause and effect relationship on it. Explain that they will look for a partner with a card that creates a complete cause and effect statement or relationship. Tell the class that when they find their partner, they should sit together with their whiteboards and whiteboard markers out. Give them time to find their partners and get settled.
  • Call on a few partnerships to read aloud their cause and effect statement or relationship.
  • Read aloud the learning objective, and explain that the matching activity was looking at cause and effect relationships in general, and today's lesson will be about looking at cause and effect in nonfiction texts.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain that we can find cause and effect relationships when we read, and when we can make those connections, it helps us to better understand the text. Go over the key vocabulary by providing student-friendly definitions and an image to illustrate a cause and effect relationship.
    • Cause: the reasons why something happened (Example: Not enough rainfall in a certain place.)
    • Effect: what happened because of the cause (Example: The ponds and lakes dried up.)
  • Inform students that there are clue words that authors can use to show cause and effect relationships. Go over the key words that signal cause and effect, such as Because, if, so, as a result. Share that sometimes authors even use the words CauseAnd EffectIn their writing.
  • Display a copy of the Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer, and tell students that this will be a tool that can help organise and keep track of the cause and effect relationships we locate in a text.
  • Read aloud the third paragraph on the Manatee Facts worksheet, and underline the following sentence: "Many die because of accidents with ships or other human causes, such as pollution."
  • Point out the clue words BecauseAnd CauseAnd identify the cause and effect within the sentence. Record the information on the graphic organizer.
  • Distribute a copy of the Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer to each student and share that they will add information to it periodically during a read aloud.
  • Introduce the nonfiction picture book read aloud, such as Can We Save Them?: Endangered Species of North AmericaBy David Dobson or Flash, Crash, Rumble, and RollBy Dr. Franklyn M. Branley.
  • Read aloud the first half of the book, stopping periodically to point out clue words and allow partners to discuss any causes and effects found in the book. Instruct partners to identify two cause and effect relationships during the read aloud.
  • Check in with the class as they record the information by calling on students to share their answers with the class. Record answers on a teacher copy of the graphic organizer to serve as a reference.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain to the class that you will read aloud the second half of the book, but that they will complete the rest of the Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer independently. They should find two more cause and effect relationships in the text and record them.


  • Provide additional examples of cause and effect relationships in every day life.
  • Provide sentence frames for students to use when sharing answers, such as "A cause is ____." and "The effect is ____."


  • Instruct advanced students to read a nonfiction text with an overall idea, such as pollution or endangered animals. Have them identify several causes for a single effect, or vice versa. Encourage them to create a digital presentation to share the information with their peers.
(3 minutes)
  • Distribute a blank index card to each student for the Exit Ticket.
  • Have students complete the following sentence frame with a piece of information from their Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer: "The cause is ____, and the effect is ____. I know this because ____."
  • Instruct students to read aloud their sentence frames with their partner. Provide feedback and clarification as needed.
(2 minutes)
  • Call on nonvolunteers to share some of the cause and effect key words they learned today and noticed in the read aloud.
  • Review that cause and effect relationships help us make connections between ideas in the text, and that helps us to better understand the most important information.

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