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Teaching Cause and Effect through Mistakes

MistakesThatWorked 

I love Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be by Charlotte Foltz Jones and think this book is a fun way to talk about real-life cause and effect scenarios. From post-it notes to Velcro, this is a highly entertaining book!

Modeling Mini-Lesson:

First, I read a few of the passages to the group as a whole and talked about key words to demonstrate cause and effect. These words included: therefore, because, so, so then, in order to, and as a result.

After reading the passage we practiced summarizing the story through cause and effect language. Here is part of a chart we created together.

Causeeffect 

The following day, students were placed in groups of two with the following resources:

  • a printed passage on one of the inventions created by mistake
  • post-it notes
  • chart paper
  • markers

Students were asked to read the passage together and asked to create a cause and effect summary using post-it notes (cause on one post-it and effect on the other).  When this was completed, partners shared their notes and created a simple cause and effect summary chart for our school. The requirement was to use one of the key words discussed in the summary. Because we don't have a "hallway", we just placed them by our main hallway's bathrooms. My students were happy to see them being read as students waited in line.

Causepostit

Causemaple 

Important Note- We followed this skill up by addressing two things:

  • Cause and effect does not always follow the pattern of the cause followed by effect. An example would be, "Americans are overweight due to an unhealthy diet."
  • The reason we teach cause and effect should be tied to writing nonfiction. Nonfiction follows a different organizational pattern. Where fiction has a beginning, middle, and end with a plot and climax, nonfiction is written using comparing and contrasting, sequencing, cause and effect, or description for organization. We used our Navigating Nonfiction articles to demonstrate this organization pattern.

To learn more about our classroom, visit us at: www.bar.rcs.k12.tn.us/teachers/bunyia/bunyihome.html

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Inside Angela's 4th Grade Classroom are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.