Have a dialogue with students focusing on the terms cause and effect. Give some everyday examples of cause and effect to ensure that students have a good understanding of the terms. The teacher can introduce a couple of cause and effect examples to which every student can relate:
Cause: Did not complete homework assignment.
Effect: Reprimand by teacher/parent.
Cause: Severe thunderstorms start in the morning and continue all day.
Effect: The all-day trip to the zoo and museum is canceled, along with the picnic in the park.
Discuss the two examples and have the students conclude that the cause of an event is responsible for resulting actions and that the effect is the result. In other words, the cause is the reason, the effect is the result or what happens. Use the two previous examples for further explanation.
After students have a good understanding of cause and effect, have them think of some examples that happen to them in their daily lives and use the terms cause and effect. Therefore, a student may say: "The cause was I did not wash the dishes when it was my night to do them. The effect was that I had to wash them for the entire week."
Next, explain to students that events have causes and resulting effects in social studies, in stories they read every day, and in science. Tell them that today they will be social scientists and investigate or do research to help them determine the cause and effect of various events.
Assign the following events. Tell the students that they have a choice of working on the assigned topics or can select topics that they are interested in investigating. They can work as individuals, in pairs, or as a team.
Provide them with the cause and effect chart to use as they work on their topics. Point out that if they select a science topic, it could be the beginning of their project for the school's science fair.
Because of __________, __________. __________ caused __________.
Therefore __________. Finally, due to __________, __________.
This explains why __________.
Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.