Cause and Effect Chain:

The cause and effect chain is wonderful tool that can be used by students when they finish reading in any content area but especially in science. Cause and effects are concepts that students may need to review once they have completed their reading in the subject matter. Often text and other readings may provide too much information and the can lead to a overload of sorts. This graphic organizer is simple to use and helps a student make connections between events that occur and what happened to create these events. There are two columns on the graphic organizer. One column is for the causes and the other is for the effects. Once a student has listed an event or effect they can go back into the reading and describe its cause. This process may be repeated as many times as need be for students to summarize the cause and effect relationships that they have read in the section. This helps students make clear and concise connections between the two and assist them in retention the facts that they read.


1. Teacher passes out two copies of the cause and effect graphic organizer to each student.

2. Students are then told how they may use the graphic organizer to label the cause and effect relationship that they will be reading about in the upcoming section or resource. The teacher should give a clear example of a cause and effect relationship, preferably from a shorter reading so the teacher can model the cognitive process that he or she goes through when deciding which cause and effect relationships in a reading are. If applicable students may also connect the current section and any other section that was studied to create a cause and effect relationship.

3. The students will then read the text or resource individually. They should be reading with a purpose which is to locate these relationships in the reading.

4. Once students have completed their reading they should go down each of the cause and effect columns and list each action and its reaction. Students may look back in the reading if need be to accurately depict the true relationship between the cause and the effect.

5. After all students have finished filling in their graphic organizer, they will participate in a class discussion centered on their organizer. This should make certain that all students have the appropriate number and descriptions of the cause and effect relationships that were in their reading. They may always go back to change or add something if need be.

6. Students should keep these organizers as a supplement. They may be used to assist in study later on or used as a resource for future class discussions.

*This strategy will be especially useful in a middle school science classroom. In a lesson about the earth natural disasters we could very well use this type of graphic organizer to connect ideas about what natural disasters is (the effect) and the individual elements that causes them. I would use this organizer in this section but I would like to use up to date articles about particular disasters that have struck the world that they students may have heard of and then research what causes this to occur. I could use certain typhoons that have struck Asia, the disaster in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina. In their readings they will read about weather patterns, plate tectonics and other technical information that contributes to natural disasters occurring. I would like them to understand these concepts and also understand what part humans play in these natural disasters. I feel like if they can identify and relate to these causes and visually see the effect (i.e. natural disasters) then they will make a much deeper and longer lasting connection with the subject matter. Identifying cause and effect is not a skill that comes naturally so it would have to be explicitly taught to students. They will also need practice beginning with smaller statements and having them identify the cause and effect. They will gradually move forward where they will be able to use this graphic organizer to relate information in longer more current articles and readings.