Quick Write

Why did Ed Gein commit those murders?

Charting Cause and Effect

Let us chart the causes and effects of a monster. 


  • Don’t jump to conclusions
  • Appreciate your limits. We don’t know why so we have to follow the evidence from effect to cause.
  • Offer sufficient evidence for claims

Slasher Films

Understanding Causal Relationships

As a class, we are going to clearly define the types of causal relationships:

  1. necessary
  2. sufficient
  3. precipitating
  4. proximate
  5. remote
  6. reciprocal causes
  7. contributing factors

Causality: the relationship of cause and effect

Once you understand these concepts, the charts you create to map cause and effect can become more complex.

You should identify the types of causal relationships on your charts (you might use different types of arrows, different colors, or simply labels to show what kind of cause is being mapped).

  • Necessary Cause: any factor that must be in place for something to occur.
  • Sufficient Cause: is a condition that always produces the effect in question.
  • Precipitating Cause: the proverbial straw that breaks a camel’s back.
  • Proximate Cause: nearby and often easy to spot.
  • Remote Cause: may act at some distance from an event but be closely tied to it.
  • Reciprocal Cause: you have a reciprocal situation when a cause leads to an effect that, in turn, strengthens the cause.
  • Contributing Factors: add to the causes to bring about the effect.

Why is society so fascinated with serial killers?

Jeopardy! Game Board

  1. Pick a monster or category of monster.
  2. Come up with six relevant categories and arrange them from most to least interesting. 
  3. Write five facts about each topic, in increasing order of difficulty. From common knowledge to specific and advanced knowledge.

For instance, say the category is oil and natural gas “fracking.” The easiest clue might be, “This is the technical name for ‘fracking.’ ” The answer, phrased as a question, would be, “What is hydraulic fracturing?”

A much more difficult clue might be, “The presence of this gas has been linked to flammable drinking water near fracking sites.” The answer, phrased as a question, would be, “What is methane gas?”

The progression from general to specific, easy to advanced, should help you see that any issue has many lines of cause and effect to be investigated. Without this process, students often settle on the easiest question—and their focus remains there. We want to make more complex and interesting lines of inquiry.


Research Activity: Chronological News

For this activity, we want to search for a topic and see how it progressed. Hopefully, we can begin to see the causes and effects of the topic.

Teaching Notes:




 Causal Analysis systematically examines the causes and/or the effects of an event, situation, belief, or action. Cause asks: Why did it happen? Why does it happen? Why will it happen? Effect asks: What did it produce? What does it produce? What will it produce? By carefully analyzing …

At an earlier stage, place students in small groups and ask them to create short skits that illustrate a form of causal relationship. They can perform these skits for the class, and the rest of the students can guess (like the game Charades) what type of relationship is being shown. For instance, to illustrate remote causes, the students might show a scene of a young man illegally downloading music. Then they might depict a musician pawning his guitar to buy groceries. This activity helps students understand, apply, and retain the multiple types of causal relationships.

Google Search Terms

  • Causal analysis
  • causal relationships
  • necessary cause