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Thesis Builder: Cause and Effect Essays


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Activity Description


Cause and Effect Tool called the Causinator
Source: Thesis Builder tool for Cause and Effect Essays (License: Protected by Copyright (c) [i.e. screenshot])
In this activity, students use the Thesis Builder tool to create a thesis statement for a cause-and-effect essay. Students are then shown an outline to help them write each of the five paragraphs based on their thesis statement. What makes this essay different is the narrower focus on looking into the causes (what made/makes something happen) and the effects (the thing that happens).


  1. Check that the site is not blocked at your school site.
  2. Play with the input boxes in order to learn how your words will form the thesis.
  3. Learn the rules about not adding a period at the end of the sentence or using capital letters in the beginning.
  4. Prepare a lesson on cause and effect essays and a list of possible essay topics. Here are a couple of sites with lists of topics:
  5. And here is a PowerPoint that may help you teach the topic: Cause and Effect PowerPoint

Teacher Tips

  • Select the time frame box to show work written in the present, past, or future.
  • If you teach in a computer/projector classroom, print the box questions (select Print Screen in order to print your screen) and let the students write their answers. Then choose a few students to input their answers in your computer.
  • Project the result to students.

Program Areas

  • ASE: High School Equivalency Preparation
  • ASE: High School Diploma
  • ABE: Adult Basic Education


  • All Levels

Lesson Plan


Activity: Begin with a quick class discussion about cause and effect in everyday life. Ask students to provide examples (e.g., "What happens if you don't water a plant?" or "What are the effects of studying hard for a test?").


Explain that understanding cause and effect helps in organizing our thoughts and structuring essays effectively.

  1. Topic Introduction: Present the topic of cause and effect essays.
  2. Thesis Builder Tool: Introduce the Thesis Builder tool (provide the link and demonstrate its use).
  3. Example: Use a possible essay topic to demonstrate how to use the Thesis Builder tool. For instance, “The impact of social media on teenagers.”
    • Brainstorming Activity: Engage the class in brainstorming possible causes (e.g., peer pressure, access to information) and effects (e.g., anxiety, improved communication skills).
    • Thesis Statement: With class input, develop a thesis statement using the Thesis Builder tool.
    • Online Outline: Show how to select “Make an Online Outline” and explain what should be written in each paragraph based on the outline.
  1. Activity: Allow students to choose an essay topic from a provided list or a specific topic based on recent classroom instruction.
  2. Exploration: If possible, have students explore their topic using the Thesis Builder tool in a computer lab or on shared devices.
  3. Collaboration: Students can work in pairs or small groups to brainstorm and create their thesis statements and outlines.

Possible Essay Topics:

  1. The effects of climate change on the environment.
  2. Causes and effects of obesity in children.
  3. The impact of technology on education.
  4. Causes and effects of pollution in urban areas.
  5. The influence of video games on youth behavior.
  1. Discussion: Go over each paragraph of the outline and discuss what should be written in each section.
  2. Q&A: Allow time for questions and discussion to clarify any doubts.
  1. Writing Time: Give students ample time to write their essays based on the outlines they have created.
  2. Peer Review: If time permits, have students exchange essays for peer review and provide feedback.

Assessment and Feedback 

  1. Review: Go over a few of the essays in class, noting some exceptional points made.
  2. Feedback: Provide constructive feedback and highlight strong examples of cause-and-effect relationships in the essays.


  • Cause and Effect.png - Screenshot of Thesis Builder's Causinator for Cause & Effect and Predictive Essays


  • Language Arts - Writing
    • Language Facility
    • Organization of Ideas
    • Writing Conventions


  • Writing
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
    • CCR Anchor 7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
    • CCR Anchor 9 - Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • Language
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.


writing, introduction, main paragraph, outline, paragraph, predictive, report, statement, thesis, topic, brainstorm, cause & effect, cause and effect, ELA, essay, GED writing

AI Reference

ChatGPT was used in the creation of this lesson plan.
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.