Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 18, 2008

Fans have new ways to catch March Madness online

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Like the Super Bowl, the NCAA tournament has an impact far beyond sports. Invite the class to find March Madness-related coverage in other sections, such as business, entertainment or lifestyle.
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Even non-fans get swept up in college basketball madness, though it may be tough for a novice to understand bracket pairings and how teams reach the Final Four. Have pupils look at whether reports are clear and explain details well. Are any unfamiliar terms, such as "seed," defined? What improvements could help?
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Facebook’s exclusive deal with CBS Sports lets the social network distinguish itself from MySpace and other sites. Send students on a hunt for examples in news articles or ads that show companies or political candidates trying to gain a competitive edge.

Anything popular winds up on the Internet eventually. Here's fresh evidence: CBS Sports and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will stream this year’s Division I men’s basketball championship games (better known as. March Madness) online for free. They’ll still air on TV as usual, but now games that aren't shown locally to boost ticket sales will be available via the web.

In another sign of changing times, CBS recruited Facebook to host a March Madness Brackets application so the social network's users can predict winners and losers. Located at www.facebook.com/brackets, the new feature also lets members compare their picks with those of friends. More than 2.6 million Facebook users joined at least one bracket group in a similar feature run by the site last year, when the University of Florida Gators won the 65-team tournament.

Excitement is generated partly by rooting for local or home state teams, or schools attended by friends or family members. Interest also flows from the live-action drama of surprise outcomes – "Cinderella stories" with triumphant underdogs or long-shot victories at the final buzzer. With 33 games, it happens most years.

What are 'brackets'? The NCAA pairs teams against each other in the tournament's opening rounds based on their records this season and other factors. Those pairings, displayed on a chart printed and posted by newspapers , are known as brackets. This year's will be announced March 16.

Other tournament jargon: In addition to March Madness, the three-week tournament is called the Big Dance. Survivors of the first two rounds are known as the Sweet Sixteen. Those games' winners become the Elite Eight, setting the stage for two pre-championship games featuring the Final Four.

Schedule: The 70th annual tournament begins March 18 and winds up with the Final Four games April 5 and April 7 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Front Page Talking Points is written by Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2014
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