Overview: Students will gain an understanding of circular cause and effect and will become familiar with the notion of recurrent patterns through exploration of the Fixes that Backfire Archetype in Big Al.

Lesson Objectives

Curriculum Context


  • Students will explain the difference between straight arrow and circular cause and 

  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the concept of recurrent patterns in stories by identifying stories that have similar patterns.

  • Students will demonstrate

    understanding of the Fixes that Backfire Archetype by drawing a causal loop diagram based on the text of a story. 

  • Students will identify situations from real life that illustrate the Fixes that Backfire Archetype.

This lesson is designed to improve reading comprehension skills in 3rd grade students, but it may be adapted for older students.

  • Change over time

  • Feedback  

  • Patterns of behavior



Systems Tools

  • Big Al by Andrew Clements Overhead projector

  • Fixes that  Backfire Archetype Transparency

  • Fixes that Backfire Archetype template worksheets

  • 60 minutes

  • Causal loop diagram

  • Fixes that Backfire Archetype



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