Last updated on: 2/27/2015 | Author:

Recognizing Cause and Effect – Lesson Plan Idea


Recognizing Cause and Effect – Overview


Use videos to practice listening skills, note-taking, and identifying links between cause and effect(s) in persuasive speech.

Grades: 6-8

The Activity


Before showing the video explain to students that they are going to watch it twice. The first time their job is to make a list of everything that could be considered a “cause.” Discuss their lists as a class, challenging any misconceptions and finding consensus about the one or two central causes included in the debate. These should be recorded on the “Cause and Effect Map” graphic organizer.

For the second screening, have students use the graphic organizer to list “effects” of each cause, separating them into effects that support the pro and con side of the debate. Invite students to pair and share, or discuss as a class the effects they listed and how they connect to the cause.

Extend the discussion by asking students how they could know which causal relationships were true and how they could draw their own conclusions if the effects listed by both sides were accurate. Use this discussion as a springboard to explore the relative merits of different types of evidence and to help students see that, in contrast to many media depictions, advocates for a given position aren’t always 100% right or 100% wrong.

——————————– Topics: Tablets vs. Textbooks (for younger students); Concealed Handguns (for older students)

Subjects: English / Language Arts / ELA, History / Social Studies, Debate, Communication

Common Core Anchor Standards: CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.SL.3

Common Core Content Standards: W.2, W.4, SL.2, SL.3, RH.3, RH.6, RH.7


Make the lesson easier 

  • Watch the video together as a class, pausing frequently to identify causes and effects.
  • Prior to viewing, make sure that students are clear about their assigned tasks by providing an example: e.g., in the debate on tablets vs. textbooks, a cause might be listed as “providing students with tablets”, a pro effect might say “students’ back-packs will be lighter,” and a con effect might be that “students will play games when they should be reading.”
  • Skip the extension question and instead ask students which side they found more convincing and why.

Make the lesson harder 

  • Choose a video on the Felon Voting, Vegetarianism, or Drones site.
  • After the activity, give students time to research one claim from each side of the debate video, and then write a paragraph choosing a side and explaining their own position.
Related Links


  1. Lesson Plan Ideas with Common Core Correlations
  2. Teachers’ Corner