Introducing Historical Thinking Concepts to a Grade 10 History Class in 5 days – Day 4 – Cause and Consequence

Ronald Martinello

I am currently the History/Geography head at  St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge, Ontario. I teach History, Law and Civics. I am in my 26th year of teaching.

On day 4 of the introductory unit, we examined the concept of Cause and Consequence. It was really in this lesson that students began to make some good connections to the concept we were learning.

We began by looking at terminology to identify the types of causes that exist and the types of consequences that exist. We looked at words like immediate, background, long term, intentional, unintentional, major, minor, natural, accidental long-lasting and short-lasting. Through this vocabulary exercise,  I think students opened up to the idea that there were a number of factors that could cause an event and a number of possible consequences that could result from an event. We moved from the singular thought that one thing causes another to a multitude of causes and a variety of consequences. Through this basic of exercises, students learned that events are complicated in origin and consequence.

Our next exercise was then to examine three different pictures refecting three different events that were not immediately familiar to the students. They needed to speculate on what caused the scene and what resulted from the scene. I chose a common automobile accident (this idea was lifted straight from the Big Six Poster on Cause and Consequence), a man sleeping on a park bench (actually a picture taken during the Great Depression) and a picture of a devastated building (the monastery at Monte Cassino).  This lead to a rich discussion of what might have caused these things to happen and what might arise from these events. When the last two events were actually revealed to the students, they found their speculations were not far off.

I then returned to the list of 30 items I had generated at the beginning of the lesson. I provided the class with two tasks.  Their first task was to select three specific events from the list provided. They were then to identify what caused the event and what resulted from the event.








This was a basic exercise with predictable results. The bigger challenge came from activity 2.  They were given the challenge to link any two events from the list I gave them and explain that link.


EVENT A:                                                                                               EVENT B:






It was here that the students were able to make some interesting connections. Some were more obvious than the others. For example, the September 11 attacks led to the invasion of Afghanistan. Others were a little more sophisticated. My favourite was the student who linked the establishment of Facebook to the Arab Spring riots. He explained how social media was used to link the message of social unrest to the masses who followed Facebook. I thought this was a creative link that was not immediately obvious to most of the class. All in all, it was a good start to examining cause and consequence.