Using A Fishbone Diagram for Writing Cause and Effect Texts

Morning – just a quick post on using a fishbone diagram to help students write more focused cause and effect texts – especially when there are multiple causes.

What are the causes of deforestation? Fishbone (Ishakawa) Diagram.

Each rib is for a separate cause contributing to the effect. Once the ribs have been completed with brief detail (which you can check as you go), the student can write a short introduction followed by a paragraph for each cause.

The student has used the fishbone plan to write a tightly focused text on the causes of deforestation.

Advantages at the Fishbone Stage:

  1. Quick for the teacher to see where knowlegde gaps are (great for checking the whole class during the lesson).
  2. Great for supporting with vocabulary (e.g. “Instead of towns and cities, you could say urban areas.”)
  3. Students hate planning a text – this doesn’t feel like a plan.
  4. Good for revision later (they won’t re-read the text in 6 months time, but they might look at the fishbone).
  5. It’s quick –

Advantages at the Writing Stage:

  1. Students can concentrate on the quality of writing without having to hold all of the essay in their heads.
  2. The writing structure makes it easy to assess in class (Teach Like a Champion – Check for Understanding / Name the Lap – “This time I’m only going to look at your introduction sentence”).
  3. Reduces waffle.

I hope that’s useful. Let me know if you use a fishbone organiser to support writing during lockdown.


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