This module is for Grades: 9-10 Welcome

shots and explosion in the midst of a battle at a sea fort

Historical events can cause later events or simply precede them. This image shows the battle of Fort Sumter in 1861, an event that marked the start of the American Civil War.
Image credit: National Park Service Opens a new window

In school you often look at causes and effects. In science, it may be the causes and effects of a chemical reaction. In English, you may study the causes and effects of a character’s action in a novel. In your social studies class, you frequently examine historical events in order to determine if the events are connected. Did a historical event, such as the firing on Fort Sumter, cause the Civil War or did it simply precede the war? Using prior knowledge, you know the firing on Fort Sumter is considered one of the causes of the Civil War. Prior knowledge is always helpful in determining the relationship between events.

But what should you do when you are reading about an unfamiliar historical period or region of the world? Having a firm understanding of cause-and-effect text structure will assist you in determining if events described in a text have a cause-and-effect relationship. Recognizing a sequence text structure will assist you in placing events in chronological order. By placing events in chronological order, you can analyze “how” and “why” events occurred and determine if earlier events caused later events, or if they simply preceded one another but have no effect on one another.

Module Objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Analyze a series of events described in a primary or secondary source to determine the relationship between the events.


Focus Standard

RH.9-10.3 – Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


  • Analyze and explain the interrelationships, causal and otherwise, between events in a primary or secondary source.
  • Identify and use knowledge of text organizational structures, such as chronological order, cause/effect, main ideas and details, description, similarities/differences, and problem/solution, to gain meaning.