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How Students Can Use Argumentation to Evaluate Super Bowl Predictions


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- By Mallory Busch | ThinkCERCA Blog

Turn on the TV to watch Super Bowl predictions and what you’ll see is classic argumentation.

Sportscasters analyze facts, such as the statistics of certain players and teams. They use this evidence and their reasoning about it to explain whether a team will win or lose (thus supporting a claim). They’ll acknowledge the counterarguments – like why their favored team might actually falter. And of course, they’re adept at using audience-appropriate language while speaking to viewers.

When students read or watch sports predictions, they can employ critical thinking skills to evaluate the likelihood that a proposed outcome will occur. In this example, we’ll take a look at Bleacher Report’s article that argues why the New England Patriots will defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Just in time for the big game, use this graphic organizer to show your students how they can analyze sports news.


The Claim

“New England is too experienced, too dynamic and too smart to lose.”

The Evidence

“The Patriots, like the Falcons, are coming off two dominant displays against the Houston Texans and the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

The Reasoning

“But what might be more impressive about the Patriots' playoff run than the Falcons' is that New England dismantled the Steelers and their high-octane offense.”

The Counterargument

“Sure, it can be argued that the game might not have been so one-sided if Le'Veon Bell didn't get injured, but the reality is that Pittsburgh has so many weapons on offense, including Antonio Brown, that losing one player shouldn't matter that much.” 

The Audience

The author makes references to former games and specific players, showing that his audience is likely well-informed football fans.

More sports content to exercise students’ critical thinking skills:

These lessons are great...

If your students are budding paleontologists:

Fossil Records

Differentiated lessons for grades 3-12 | CCSS.CCRA.R.8, CCSS.RST.6-12.8  

Key question: How have fossil records changed our understanding of the earth?

View Lesson

If your students hope to visit the Statue of Liberty:

Immigration Through Ellis Island

Differentiated Lessons for grades 3-12 | CCSS.CCRA.R.1,


Key question: How did individuals’ experiences at Ellis Island both affect their lives and reflect the changes taking place in the United States at the time?

View Lesson

If your class is discussing personal identity:

Cultural Perception

Differentiated lessons for grades 3-12 | CCSS.CCRA.R.4

Key question: How is our identity defined by how others perceive us?

View Lesson

What we're watching this week:

How Louis C.K. Tells a Joke

Nerdwriter | YouTube

Comedian Louis C.K. carefully chooses a premise and emphasizes certain words to land a great joke. 

Watch video

Quote of the week:

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

–From "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, engraved onto the Statue of Liberty

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