College Level TESOL Lesson Plan
Teaching Cause & Effect, a Rhetorical Mode
In this beginning phase of the lesson, I intend to start off with a warm-up consisting of the following elements, developed in a systematic order, to introduce cause and effect as a means to encourage students to explore what they already know about this mode. For students who have always struggled to understand the relationship between cause and effect, this phase illustrates the effectiveness of this mode in plain language, working to accommodate students of diverse backgrounds.
Ask students to write down their definitions of cause and effect in their journals. This gets students thinking about what’s to come. Getting them to brainstorm makes for a wonderful introduction as this is necessary in order for students to move on smoothly to the next element of this phase. Choose a video clip of a presidential debate. Recorded presidential debates are filled with rhetorical strategies. Most of all, though, these debates contain a myriad of cause and effect sentiments simplified for the general public and therefore students to make meaning easy to understand, which, in this case, contributes positively towards the following step.
Request students to create a T-chart in their journal and label the left side as Cause and the right side as Effect. Explain to them that they are to fill in the chart as they watch and listen to the debate. Play the clip after they have finished making their chart. Like the first element of this phase, this last part of the warm-up welcomes brainstorming results; in other words, students will apply what their definition of cause and effect entails to this task. So, for example, while watching the clip, students will listen carefully for situations (causes) and outcomes belonging to those said situations (effects), taking what they have heard and then placing them on either the left or right side of the chart. Because brainstorming brings about a series of intricate thoughts, I have developed this element to help students synthesize and apply their knowledge. Ultimately, this part of the phase is about giving students an opportunity to organize and explore their existing knowledge.
Taking what they have viewed from the clip and written in their journals, students will now have a chance to evaluate their existing knowledge regarding this rhetorical mode. This phase of the lesson requires that I scaffold intermittingly as I replay the clip to break down the relationship between cause and effect. This discussion is about taking them through the process, and this is one way to teach students without having to tell them a straight-forward explanation, encouraging them to engage in the activity and what they have gathered from the Warm-up and, thus, having them think critically about whether their original definition needs refining or, well, praising. To sum this up differently or, say, creatively, if there are loose bolts and nuts in my student’s education regarding the relationship between cause and effect, this phase of the lesson should help tighten them. The components of this phase are as follows.
Ask students to open their journals and refer to their notations, and then tell them that you will replay the video and pause it right after a cause and effect statement. During the Warm-up, students had an opportunity to explore their existing knowledge by applying it to a task. Referring to their notations, located in their T-chart, as they re-watch the clip can help them in two ways: to clarify and to grow, both of which beg the following question. How so? It is logical to assume that they may have missed a cause and effect statement, or two, in the first phase of the lesson; if so, and even if not so, pointing out each cause and effect statement throughout the clip can help encourage students to begin thinking about the missing statement not included in their chart. Growth begins, in this case, when they start thinking about the missing statement because brainstorming is usually the start of something riveting. Learn more about clarification and growth in the following component of this phase.
Pausing the clip right after a statement, be sure to explain the circumstances concerning the situation leading to the effect in logical order. Format your explanation in a T-chart on the whiteboard as you explain it aloud. A situation has layers of causes, or circumstances, that lead to an effect or, in some cases, even a set of effects. Normally, it’s the climax of a situation that receives recognition, not the circumstances coming before that lead to the final punch (climax) bringing about a major, or grand, effect. This clarifies that it just so happens that a series of actions lead to a major effect, helping students broaden their take on this mode as a result indicative of growth. In most cases, students won’t note every circumstance that leads to an effect, so this component of the second phase should help students expand on their existing knowledge to learn further about the complexities grounded between the relationship of cause and effect. Now formatting your explanation in a T-chart is helpful to students because it matches what’s in front of them.
As this is the third phase of the lesson, it’s important that students receive another wonderful opportunity to, in this particular case, explore their learned knowledge through their life experiences. This is about having students make a personal connection to the learning material, assisting them in acknowledging that their real-world experiences have a place in the curriculum. This is also a way for them to recognize that the learning material isn’t the only source that can help them better understand the relationship between cause and effect. To sum up this explanatory objective, this phase allows students to explore the learned material as a process and, ultimately, as a way of writing to learn. (The procedure for this phase is below.)
Think about a set of moments, or actions, that led to a grand effect in your life. Maybe you enrolled in college (grand effect) because of a set of events that had taken place. Or perhaps there were actions you took to get an A on that last math test (grand effect).
Directions. In your journal, write two paragraphs discussing a set of moments, or actions, that lead to a grand effect. Please be sure to write about something you wouldn’t mind sharing with your classmates as the next activity requires peer review.
The prompt will help students begin jogging their memory, giving them a premise to help them narrow down their memories in order to connect a set of points in time that leads to a major effect. In essence, the prompt is a way to get students thinking about cause and effect in a scrutinizing way. The directions play a crucial role, in that they require students to make sure they are comfortable sharing what they have written with their classmates for the next activity. This assignment is also a way for me to provide formative feedback for my students after I collect and review their journals; in doing so, I also get to use what I know about my student’s progress as a way to inform my practice.
This group activity functions like a peer review in that it works to clarify uncertainties having to do with, in this case, cause and effect. Students read each other’s journal assignments to reinforce their new knowledge in a collaborative and inquisitive manner. (Please view the components of this phase below.). For this activity, having students work in pairs is ideal because it allows them to focus just on one paper. Ask each pair to share and read each other’s journal assignment and to pinpoint as many causes and effects as possible. Then ask them to jot down any questions they may have and constructive comments as they read. When they are done, pairs must share their questions and comments with one another.
Having students pinpoint the causes and effects taking place in their classmates’ papers helps them put their new knowledge to use. Students have to think logically about the circumstances that lead to the major effect. If something doesn’t make sense, the group member should make a question out of it to receive clarification from the author of the paper. If there’s a better way to tell the story, the group member may share that constructively. Formulating questions and comments is advantageous since it’s a way to look at cause and effect from an objective standpoint. The one who receives the feedback also benefits from this exercise because he or she can then use it to enhance what they know and, thus, his or her story if he or she chooses to revise it.
This last phase of the lesson, which is what’s for homework, requires that students write a reflection describing what they have learned about the relationship between cause and effect and how they have gone about learning it. With this assignment, they have an opportunity to ask questions and express concerns about the lesson, which I intend on addressing after I collect and review their reflections. The whole point of this assignment is to have students go through the lesson twice, however, in this case, from memory, which can help them develop their new skill. (The directions regarding this phase are below.)
Return back to your journal and reread your original definition of cause and effect. Now I want you to create a refined definition of cause and effect. Explain what you have learned about this device and how you have gone about learning it as a way to describe how you have come to this new and improved definition. The reflection must be at least two pages long and formatted in MLA style. This is due at the beginning of the next class day.
I want students to view how their original definition of cause and effect differs from their final definition of cause and effect, so they can notice the progression they have made from the beginning of the lesson all the way to the end of it; in doing so, students get to recap on the main details of the lesson including its parameters and outcomes as a way to explore existing and new discoveries.