Main News Section

MAIN NEWS invites students to explore the day’s international, national and local stories offering current and challenging information about people, places and events in the news.

The diversity of the MAIN NEWS section makes it ideal for supporting and responding to many areas within the school curriculum. The language arts components are obvious: reading articles and advertising, responding to the reading through writing, discussing readings and writings. The national and world-wide scope of MAIN NEWS articles also offer a rich resource for reinforcing the study of civics, politics, world cultures and geography. Real-life applications of mathematics concepts and strategies can be created using the advertising, the Economy & Business news, even the datelines. Science connections abound in the Environment page in Monday’s newspaper.

The exercises developed around the MAIN NEWS section have students work with and respond to science news, news abstracts, pictures and illustrations, editorial commentary, federal government activity, reporters’ journals and advertising.

Some learners may be ready to respond to one or more of the various levels of exercises developed around these MAIN NEWS features. However, the success of other students may depend upon a careful introduction to the concepts and issues characterizing this section of the paper. For these students, it will be important to create a concept and vocabulary base to assist in their comprehension of and response to MAIN NEWS. Given time to browse through the section, students’ understanding of MAIN NEWS would benefit from a discussion prompted by questions such as:

-What types of people and events are shown in MAIN NEWS photos? Do you recognize any people?
-Do you recognize any places shown?
-Where have you seen these people/ places before?
-What is news?
-What are the news headlines? Have you heard about these news stories before? Where?
-Which headlines trace “on-going” news? Which report sudden, unexpected events?
-What kind of advertising is featured? Distinguish a classified ad from a display ad.
-Which items most often are found in advertisements in the MAIN NEWS section? Clothes? Homes? Cars? Services? Business  services?

Given the headlines, the photographs and the other characteristics of MAIN NEWS, why is this section of the paper always the first section?

During this introduction, teachers might keep a list of the words and terms used by their students to describe the concepts, issues and other observations noted from the photos, illustrations and headlines. The discussion and this listing will stimulate important pre-reading thinking as students approach MAIN NEWS more specifically using the leveled exercises which follow.

Highlights of MAIN NEWS

Front Page                             

A1 displays the most significant stories of that day. Headlines and subheadlines allow for easy scanning of the day’s most important news.

In The News and Inside                                     

Located on the bottom of A1, 'In the News' and ‘Inside’ offer a glimpse at what the day’s paper has to offer. From Food and Sports to Metro news. Below the items featured a more complete Table of Contents is found.

A Section                               

The A section is comprised of Politics & The Nation, The World, Economy & Business and Editorial.

Politics & The Nation           

Highlights news and trends around the Nation.

The World                             

This subsection contains important news and features about global events.  The stories are usually written from abroad but sometimes in Washington.

Economy & Business            

A source for local, national and international business, financial and economic news, analysis and opinion.  Post Tech by Cecilia Kang, a column by Steve Pearlstein and ‘The Markets’ are featured in this section.


These expressions of opinions are always located in the Editorial Section of the A Section.  Letters To The Editor encourages readers to voice their opinion by writing letters to the editor.  Tom Toles’ Editorial Cartoon is also featured in this section.

The Fed Page                        

This feature appears Monday through Friday and focuses on events in government: committees, new federal regulations, government agencies.  ‘In the loop’ is also featured in this section, a column written by Al Kamen regarding federal news and events.


Brief summaries of events occurring both in the United States and across the World are located in MAIN NEWS when space permits.

The Environment      

Tackles current environmental issues. Runs every Monday and is always on page A-5.

Supreme Court Calendar      

Runs mostly online only.

Use the News to Create a Graph


As an introduction to this exercise, you may wish to review the different forms of graphs (line, bar, pie charts) and discuss the purpose of such illustrations with your students.

For the Level 1 exercise, students may need 3x5 index cards, glue, tape or pins. The use of a chalkboard or bulletin board or interactive white board will be helpful to visually present the numbers.


1.  Ask each student to answer this question: Which news brief on page 1’s INSIDE is of greatest interest to most members of the class? Have each write the title on a 3x5 index card. Make a label for each INSIDE title; post these labels at the bottom of the board or bulletin board. Use tape or pins to post the students’ cards above the appropriate label to create a bar graph.

Now ask the class to answer this question: Which news brief on page 1’s INSIDE is of greatest interest to most members of the class? Lead the class in an analysis of which news  brief appeared most interesting and/or least interesting to the class.

Have students prepare a horizontal bar graph that answers the latter question.

Extension: This exercise can be extended by reading and discussing the article considered most interesting by the majority of the class.


2. Have students read an article in Economy & Business that contains facts and numbers. As a class or in groups do the following:

  • Make a list of questions that might have been asked to get the information,
  • Discuss the source(s) of information provided in the article,
  • Decide what information can be presented as a graph or chart,
  • Determine which type of graph or chart is best suited for the data,
  • Create the graph or chart. Students will share their graphs with classmates. Have them explain why they used the particular type of graph or chart.

Extension: Evaluate if all groups accurately presented the information provided in the article. Make a list of additional information that is needed to prepare another graph on the topic.


3.  Have students select an article from MAIN NEWS which contains information that lends itself to graphic presentation. Guide students in reading and discussing the article. During the discussion, have students note the information that could be presented visually (spending figures, hiring practices, economic growth/decreases, congressional voting patterns).

Working in pairs or groups, have students prepare graphs based on data presented in the text.

Extension: Students could also conduct a poll of the class, grade or school on a topic related to the article (for example, the various uses of personal allowance, preferred fast food restaurants, percent of students that do/do not have jobs). The graphs and supporting reports could be submitted to the school paper for publication.


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Mathematics, Knowledge of Statistics Grade 3, Students will collect, organize and display data to make single bar graphs using a variety of  categories and intervals. Grades 4-5, Collect data by conducting surveys to answer a question.


Mathematics, Grade 4, Probability and Statistics, The student will collect, organize and display data in line and bar graphs with scale increments of one or greater than one and use the display to interpret the results, draw conclusions, and make predictions.

Washington, D.C.

Mathematics, Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability, Grade 4, The student displays and interprets data in stem-and-leaf plots, bar graphs and pie charts.

Fundamental Skill

Reinforce Interacting

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Following directions, locating information, categorizing, evaluating, analyzing, drawing conclusions, developing visual imagery 


Newspaper Photographs Elicit Emotions


Draw students’ attention to the photographs within MAIN NEWS. Students will be asked to respond to these photographs that enhance news stories in ways which promote their own vocabulary development, comprehension and writing skills.

Students will need to scan MAIN NEWS and review the photographs in that section to perform the following exercises. Students will need scissors, tape, glue and paper. This exercise may be done individually or in groups.

Mount a picture on the chalkboard or on large chart paper or display a picture on your interactive white board from e-Replica. The picture should be selected from an edition of the newspaper NOT being used by students for this exercise. Have students list five words or phrases that describe the emotions expressed in the picture. Ask students to select one word from their lists. After sharing the word, each student is to tell what in the picture elicits this emotion. Are students’ emotions similar?

Note: This exercise can be modified by using the METRO section, OR Thursday’s Local Living Section.

For further study of the photographs used in The Washington Post, go to


1.  Ask students to browse through the MAIN NEWS section of the newspaper looking for photographs that fall into the following categories:

  • Pictures that make me happy or make me laugh 
  • Pictures that make me sad 
  • Pictures that make me curious to find out what happened
  • Pictures that make me scared

Have students choose one of the pictures, mount the photograph or display the photograph on the computer, and write a sentence or brief story about how the photograph relates to the category.

Extension: This exercise can be augmented as a language experience exercise by individual or group writing. A list of vocabulary words and phrases can be incorporated into the story. For example, for the “sad” photograph, students might extend their vocabulary to include such words as “unfortunate,” “sentimental,” “sympathetic” and “pathos.”


2.  Have students choose from MAIN NEWS a photograph that has rich predictive value (emotions, action, interesting setting, suggestive details). Lead students in making and justifying predictions based on the picture’s composition.

  • What happened just before the photo was snapped?
  • What is the reason for the emotion displayed?
  • Where is the event occurring?
  • What is already known about the pictured person(s), location and/or event?
  • What happened just after the photograph was snapped?

Record their responses on the board.

  • Does information found in context influence what students think?
  • Does the headline provide clues to what is happening?
  • What does the cutline add?

Have students read (or follow a reading of) the related article. Note the accuracy of the predictions as the article is read and discussed.


3.  Have students select three photographs from MAIN NEWS which depict the same “character” or group of people in three distinctly different moods or situations (for example, a woman in danger, a woman at leisure and a woman at work; a child at play, a child at school and a child at home; a group in protest, a group in celebration and a group at rest).

Using these pictures as a source of “inspiration,” ask each student to write a poem or short story reflecting on the many moods, many changing situations of existence.

The pictures and their accompanying news articles can be used as a background on which the finished poem or short story is mounted and displayed.


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Reading/English Language Arts, Students will compose oral, written and visual presentations that express personal ideas, inform, and persuade.


English, The student will read, comprehend and analyze a variety of informational sources.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Students comprehend and compose a wide range of written, oral and visual texts.

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Interpreting

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Finding the main idea, locating information, drawing conclusions, critical thinking, analyzing, developing visual imagery

Be Informed About Your Government and Issues


Have students locate THE FED PAGE, using the Table of Contents in e-Replica. You may need to explain that THE FED PAGE follows noteworthy events involving all branches and departments of the federal government from congressional committees to new federal regulations and government agencies.

The Level 2 exercise should be used as a preparation for the Level 3 exercise. These exercises can be done individually or in groups.


1.  Divide students into six groups, each group representing a particular profession. Here are a few possible professions from which to select:

Clergy, grocery store owners, doctors/nurses, military officers, educators, park employees, farmers, politicians

Each group will follow THE FED PAGE for one week, noting those activities within the federal government which relate to or have the potential for impacting upon their profession. At the end of the week, a group leader can present a summary report of the group’s findings. Each group member can support the report with details of some of the most interesting federal activities related to their professions.

Note: Teachers may wish to save THE FED PAGE from one or more weeks. Make a list of professions based upon those that appear in the collection. Groups will select from this list of professions.


2.  Have students consider this situation: You have been asked by the President to submit a report on issues facing the federal government. Over a one-week period, follow THE FED PAGE and summarize each article. Choose three issues that you believe require the President’s immediate attention and explain why.


3.  From his or her list of three issues compiled in the previous exercise, each student will choose one. Based upon THE FED PAGE reports, what action does the student recommend? Prepare a two-paragraph statement. In the first paragraph summarize the issue. In the second paragraph explain why this issue requires immediate attention.

After the experience of preparing a two-paragraph brief, students may be asked to write a longer report to elaborate on their findings and to provide persuasive arguments for their recommendation.

Find other related articles. Based on the information gleaned from THE FED PAGE and other related articles, will the student keep or modify his or her original recommendation?

Why? Each student will produce a report recommending what action the President should take on this issue.


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Reading/English Language Arts, Students will read critically to evaluate informational text [newspapers, articles, editorials, commentary]. Analyze the text and its information for reliability.


English, Grade 7, The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of informational texts. Summarize what is read. Organize and synthesize information for use in written and oral presentations.

Washington, D.C.

History, Grade 3, Social Diversity and Social Change, The student summarizes local and community issues found in current events (newspaper articles, periodicals, magazines and journals).

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Interpreting

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Locating information, identifying, categorizing, decision making, drawing conclusions, evaluating

Political Advertisements


Explain to students that the advertisements appearing on the FED PAGE are often meant to influence the opinions of lawmakers and the public regarding a political issue. Use some appropriate samples from current or past FED PAGES to illustrate.

For Level 2 and 3 exercises, you may wish to cover the techniques of persuasion.

Using the Table of Contents on e-Replica, locate THE FED PAGE. This exercise can be done individually or in groups.


1.  Draw students’ attention to the advertisement on THE FED PAGE. What issue is being endorsed through the advertisement? What is the opinion of students on the position featured in the advertisement?


2.  Lead students to choose a local, regional, national or world problem on which they would like political action taken. What kind of action would they consider? Have students develop an advertisement supporting their position. The advertisement should include references to sources where more information about the issue can be obtained.


3.  Draw students’ attention to THE FED PAGE advertisement. Work with students to analyze the advertisement for persuasive techniques. Students should answer these questions:

  • What is the impact of the picture(s), the word choices, the data reported?
  • Is celebrity endorsement effective?
  • Does the advertisement appeal to the emotions or to logic?
  • Is there a related story in MAIN NEWS which supports or contradicts the information presented in the ad?

Have students submit a written analysis of their findings.

Extension: Use the reproducible “Exploration of Advertising” found in Target Markets in Advertisements in this section.


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Social Studies, Grade 7, Students will analyze the methods used by individuals and groups to shape government policy and actions. Analyze the role of media and public opinion in shaping government policy and action.


Social Science, Civics and Economics, The student will demonstrate knowledge of how public policy is made at the local, state, and national levels of government by examining the impact of the media on public opinion and public policy.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Grade 9, Language for Social Communication, The student identifies other roles and purposes of the media in affecting and formulating public opinion, advertising, etc.

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Developing Positive Attitudes and Personal Interests

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Locating information, finding the main idea, distinguishing fact from opinion, decision making, analyzing; drawing conclusions, developing visual imagery


Interpret an Editorial Cartoon


Have students locate the EDITORIAL PAGES, using the e-Replica Table of Contents. You may wish to lead a discussion on the differences between fact and opinion as an introduction to this exercise.

For further study of the editorial cartoon, go to

1.  Explain the concept of an editorial cartoon. The editorial or political cartoonist is commenting on current events. Use examples from the Tom Toles’ Editorial Cartoon and the Saturday OP-ED pages of MAIN NEWS. Emphasize the use of symbolism, caricatures, exaggeration and details.

Have students suggest issues and concerns in their lives. Challenge each student to create a cartoon expressing his or her opinion about one of these issues.


2. Select an editorial cartoon and answer the following questions:

  • If the cartoon has a title, what current event does it refer to or suggest? To what historical event does it refer or suggest?
  • What is the subject of the cartoon?
  • Does the cartoonist make us of caricatures? If yes, how effective are they?
  • What is the viewpoint of the cartoonist?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the cartoonist’s point of view?


3.  Clip editorial cartoons that appear in The Washington Post. Former Washington Post publisher Philip Graham called journalism the “first draft of history.” How might an editorial/ political cartoon be considered the first draft of history? Discuss and analyze the work of Tom Toles and other cartoonists for their visual perspective and political point of view.


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Reading/English Language Arts, Students will determine and analyze important ideas and messages in informational texts [cartoons]. Identify and explain the argument, viewpoint and perspective.


Social Science, The student will develop skills for historical analysis, including the ability to analyze documents, records and data (such as artifacts, diaries, letters, photographs, journals, newspapers).

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English, Language Arts, Grade 5, Language as Meaning Making, Students comprehend and compose a wide range of written, oral and visual texts; Applies thinking strategies to aid understanding (including ability to question, summarize, analyze, compare, interpret and evaluate).

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Interpreting

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Categorizing, distinguishing fact from opinion, critical thinking, drawing conclusions, analyzing, developing visual imagery

Read and Write a Letter to the Editor



Have students locate the OP-ED PAGE, using the Table of Contents on e-Replica. You may wish to lead a discussion on the differences between fact and opinion as an introduction to this exercise. The newspaper has a duty to inform its community. Why is it important to provide readers a voice through LETTERS TO THE EDITOR?

Ask students if they write letters to anyone? A thank you note after receiving a gift or a letter to a relative to express affection might be familiar to them. Do they use e-mail to send notes? Why do they send notes or write letters? Distinguish informal notes from formal letters.

Note: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR exercises can be modified for use with other sections of The Washington Post that offer a Letters to the Editor column.

2.  Encourage students to exchange opinions about an issue dealt with in one or more editorials or LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. Assist students in conducting a classroom survey to determine the positions taken relative to the issue. Consider adding demographic elements to the collection of survey information (boys vs. girls, those who live less than a mile from school vs. those who live more than a mile from school, those who use public facilities vs. those who go to private clubs or home facilities for sports activities). Using bar graphs or picture graphs, students can work in pairs or small groups to create visuals depicting the results of the poll.

3.  Have students read the LETTERS TO THE EDITOR for a week. Students will choose one letter of interest to them and research the original editorial, column or article to which the letter responds. Have students consider the strengths and weaknesses of the letter writer’s arguments and, based upon the analysis, have students write a new Letter to the Editor or create an editorial cartoon supporting or rebutting the position of the original letter.


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Reading/English Language Arts, Students will compose to express personal ideas to develop fluency using a variety of forms, such as journals, narratives, letters, reports and paragraphs.


English, Grade 11, The student will write, revise, and edit personal, professional and informational correspondence to a standard acceptable in the work place and higher education. Organize information to support the purpose of the writing.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Grade 5, Language as Meaning Making, Students comprehend and compose a wide range of written, oral and visual texts; Applies thinking strategies to aid understanding (including ability to question, summarize, analyze, compare, interpret and evaluate).

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Interpreting

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Categorizing, distinguishing fact from opinion, critical thinking, drawing conclusions, evaluating




Culture and Geography Through the Eyes of a Foreign Correspondent



The FOREIGN JOURNAL appears occasionally in MAIN NEWS. It chronicles a foreign correspondent’s observations on the lifestyle, the culture and the people to which the correspondent is currently assigned in that country or region.

The Washington Post has a commitment to providing international news as well as local news. It has 20 foreign bureaus. In addition, reporters are sent to cover news in many parts of the world.


1. After reading and saving the FOREIGN JOURNAL for six weeks, have students list four or six countries referenced within the FOREIGN JOURNAL. Locate these countries on a map. Lead students in a discussion of what they already know about these countries (weather, style of dress, food, animal life, religion, its music and arts).

What new information does the foreign correspondent provide?

What else do they wish to know about each country, its people and its culture? Brainstorm with the class as to where they might find answers to their questions.

Divide the class into groups; each group has a different country to study. Have students research this country by having the groups write to bureaus of tourism, its embassy and other sources they have listed. Each group is to design a series of posters focusing on this country and present an oral report to the class. Posters should reflect past and present aspects of the country. Compile a list of resources that were used to prepare the poster and presentation.


2.  Have students choose a FOREIGN JOURNAL portrait of a country which interests them. Students are to imagine that a foreign exchange student from that country will be arriving next fall to attend your school. What will this foreign exchange student need to know about our country and your community? Using the information learned from FOREIGN JOURNAL and related newspaper articles, students are to prepare a letter to the exchange student which compares and contrasts the two cultures.


3. Read the FOREIGN JOURNAL for several months. Select a country. What perspective on that country’s competitions, conflicts and cooperation with other countries is gained through reading FOREIGN JOURNAL?

Read other pages in The Post to learn more about the selected country.

•Look for news articles for examples of competitions, conflicts or cooperation in the country.

•How do current events impact on the daily life and culture of the country?

•In what region is the focus country located?

•Do the articles indicate conflict and the causes of that conflict?

•What efforts are being made in the country by such organizations as the United Nations, the International Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations?

•What world nations are involved in promoting cooperation with the focus country?

•Are initiatives taking place in this country by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, or health care initiatives?


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Social Studies, History, Students will analyze the major sources of tension, cooperation, and conflict in the world and the efforts that have been made to address them.


World Geography, The student will analyze how the forces of conflict and cooperation affect the division and control of the Earth’s surface by explaining and analyzing the different spatial divisions, analyzing ways cooperation occurs to solve problems and settle disputes.

Washington, D.C.

Social Studies, Geography, Human Systems, Students understand how economic, political and social processes interact to shape patterns of human population, interdependence, cooperation, competition, compromise and conflicts in controlling the Earth’s surface.

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Interacting

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Locating information, comparing and contrasting, categorizing, decision making, drawing conclusions



Target Markets in Advertisements



Introductory discussion should note that a primary goal of most advertising is to create business and profit for the company whose products or services are being featured. Are there exceptions to this principle?

Students need to know the definition of “target-group marketing.” Explain that successful marketing depends upon knowing who the buyer is and what the buyer wants or needs. The “target” is the segment of the population to which an advertiser aims its message and product or service.

Using the MAIN NEWS section, students will scan the newspaper for advertising. This exercise can be done individually or in groups.

Use the worksheet, "Exploration of Advertising" for a Level 3 activity.

For further study of advertising, downloading the following curriculum guides:

"INSIDE Journalism: Keep the 'Ad'itude"

"Pencil Points"


1.  Explain that successful marketing depends upon knowing who the buyer is and what the buyer wants or needs. Have students choose an advertisement from MAIN NEWS which is NOT accompanied by a picture. Ask them to assume the role of the marketing manager who submitted the item. Their supervisor has asked for a picture to go with the advertisement.

Based on their understanding of the advertisement’s product/service and target market, students are to write a description of the picture they need from the photographer or commercial artist to illustrate their story. The response can also include their own rendition of the illustration needed.


2. Have students work in pairs to print out advertisements from the MAIN NEWS section. Then, students are to separate the ads into the following categories. (Based on a prior perusal of the MAIN NEWS ads, alternate or additional categories can be used.)

•Ads intended for women

•Ads intended for men

•Ads intended for businesses

•Ads intended for household decision-makers

•Ads intended for general audiences


Have students separate the ads by type of advertisement. What categories of advertisement are found most in the MAIN NEWS section? These categories might include home furnishings, travel and clothing. They could then print out advertising found in the METRO, LOCAL LIVING or another section.

In grouping the ads, students should also take note if there is a predominance of certain types of products or services featured within the ads targeting any one group (for example, clothes for women, toys for children, home improvement products/services for heads of households). Does the section of the newspaper influence where types of ads are placed?

A graph can be created to compare the number of ads targeting each type of buyer.

Lead the class in a discussion about what they have learned about advertising. What conclusions can students draw about advertising?

3.  Worksheet: "Exploration of Advertising"


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Social Studies, Grade 4, Economics, Students will explain how scarcity and availability of the economic resources [natural, human, capital] determine what is produced and the effects on consumers in Maryland.


Social Science, Civics and Economics, The student will demonstrate knowledge of how economic decisions are made in the marketplace by applying the concepts of  price, incentives, supply and demand.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Grade 6, Language for Social Communication, The student determines and categorizes the advertising techniques that target specific audiences.

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Performing a Task

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Locating information, finding the main idea, critical thinking, predicting outcomes, analyzing, drawing conclusions, evaluating, developing visual imagery



Read About The Environment



THE ENVIRONMENT appears on Mondays in MAIN NEWS. Using several “editions” of THE ENVIRONMENT, lead students in a consideration and inventorying of the devices used within this Monday feature to clarify the presentation of highly technical information and, at the same time, economize on space and text. Review the devices so students can differentiate and identify each.

Use the worksheet "Ways to Illustrate Technical Information" for a Level 3 activity. You may want your students to create a notebook of these examples from THE ENVIRONMENT or place the collection in a special section of a notebook they keep.


1. Over a period of one to four Mondays, read THE ENVIRONMENT with your students. During this period, students are to keep a learning log listing the topics covered. Students should also list in the log those words from the article which are unfamiliar to them. As often as possible, assist students in using context to define these words in their own terms. Simple definitions of purely technical terminology should be given to students if (1) the context is of no help and (2) the word is important to understanding the article.

If an article (or a portion of an article) is of particular interest, students should print the article and any related illustrations and place it with the corresponding page in their learning logs. At the end of the month-long review of THE ENVIRONMENT, students can report on their favorite article, summarizing what was learned from the feature. If applicable, the report should include references to the chapter or portion of the class’s science text in which the topic is discussed or is related.


2.  Lead students in discussing THE ENVIRONMENT for four Mondays. Special attention should be given to the illustrative pictures, graphs and photographs.

A folder or a portion of the student’s notebook should be designated for filing the four THE ENVIRONMENT articles.

After the fourth Monday, each student will select one feature or portion of a feature from the file which is of special interest. A brief report that includes the following elements will be given to the class.

1. A summary of the feature’s information;

2. An explanation of why this topic is of special interest to the student;

3. One student-produced model, illustration or photograph which illustrates the topic in some way (for example, a representation of a process or principle, an example of the element); and

4. Three additional resources for further information on the subject. Sources may include books, people, specific organizations or departments within organizations and Internet sites.

Extension: Select a chapter of study within your science text to review the illustrations. Compare and contrast how the information was presented in the textbook to how information is presented in THE ENVIRONMENT. Evaluate how effectively concepts are illustrated. Offer suggestions to the publisher of your textbook.


3.  Worksheet: "Ways to Illustrate Technical Information"


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Science, Skills and Processes, Students will collect, organize, and accurately display data collected from investigations.


English, Proficient use of the English language will enable students to explore and articulate the complex issues and ideas encountered in public and personal life.

Washington, D.C.

Science, Scientific Inquiry, Students communicate and defend ideas, explanations and models in a variety of formats. Read science-related materials to understand science from a historical perspective and to be informed of current scientific advances and issues.

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Performing a Task

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Following directions, locating information, finding the main idea, identifying, drawing conclusions, analyzing, evaluating, developing visual imagery



Follow the Supreme Court



Review the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Lead students in a discussion about what they know or do not know about the Supreme Court. What is the role of the Supreme Court? When does the Supreme Court convene?

Have students locate articles about the Supreme Court using e-Replica’s search feature.

Know your students and use your professional judgment. Supreme Court articles can be reserved for classroom inclusion when case topics are developmentally appropriate to your students’ level of understanding and relation to your subject area.

Note: The SUPREME COURT CALENDAR appears only when the Court is in session. These exercises can be modified for use with articles about the United States Congress. Have students follow the issues and events that are the focus of committee hearings and congressional debate.


1.  Have students follow the Supreme Court for several days and determine what cases are being heard.  Students should choose one case and determine how this case will affect them, their family and/or their community.


2. From the articles in MAIN NEWS about the Supreme Court, have students select a case to be heard or reviewed by the Court. Use the article chosen and any related news stories to draw students’ attention to the fact that the topic is up for Supreme Court action.

Allow students to share their views on the subject. Ask them to register an opinion on the issue. Encourage and facilitate students’ following media coverage and any Court activity on the case over the next several weeks. Are their standings/opinions influenced? Changed? Unchanged?

Explain to students that several months will pass from the Court’s hearing of the case to the day the Court’s decision is announced. For example, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District was argued on Nov. 12, 1968, and decided on Feb. 24, 1969. At the Oyez Project ( you can find “The Pending Docket” which provides title, docket number, date argued, facts, question presented and conclusion. This site also provides legal resources, Supreme Court case summaries, Oyez Baseball and links to a Supreme Court Virtual Tour and FindLaw.

When the ruling is announced, how many students were with the majority opinion? How many were with the minority opinion?


3.  Have students follow the Supreme Court over a period of several weeks. From the cases heard by the Court during this period, have students choose one of interest and locate news stories/editorials related to the subject of the case. Using these as their sources, students will prepare a legal “brief” abstracting the facts related to the topic (for example, statistics, potential demographic or geographic impact of a favorable or unfavorable decision). A concluding portion of the abstract will be a decision forecast, a supported prediction of how the Court is expected to rule.

“We the Students: Supreme Court Cases for and about Students,” by Jamin Raskin, is an excellent resource for this activity. Raskin, a professor of constitutional law and the First Amendment at American University’s Washington College of Law and founder of its Marshall-Brennan Fellows Program, includes a chapter on how to brief a case.


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Social Studies, Political Systems, Students will demonstrate understanding of the evolution and changing interpretations of the United States Constitution and its Amendments.


Government, The student will demonstrate knowledge of the operation of the federal judiciary by describing how the Supreme Court decides cases.

Washington, D.C.

History, American Government, Grade 12, Principles and Practices, The student analyzes political and legal issues in contemporary American society and how Supreme Court decisions have affected these issues.

Fundamental Aim

Developing Positive Attitudes and Personal Interests

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Locating information, decision making, drawing conclusions, analyzing, evaluating, predicting outcomes, critical thinking 


Opinion Options



Everyone has an opinion about something. In the world of persuasion and commentary, opinion is not enough. Facts and details are needed. Have students locate the OP-ED PAGE by using the e-Replica Table of Contents.

This exercise can reinforce or introduce a lesson that focuses on distinguishing between fact and opinion and/or features the nature and purpose of the editorial section of MAIN NEWS.

The Level 1 exercise should be used as a preparation for the Level 2 exercise.

Go to “INSIDE Journalism: Composing Columns.” for further study of column and commentary writing.


1.  In preparation for this exercise, choose an OP-ED columnist’s feature and a related news item from MAIN NEWS. Introduce the topic, issue or event covered by the article and column and lead students in a reading of both items. (Note: The objective of the reading is to demonstrate the differences between the two articles, an OP-ED column and a MAIN NEWS article; it may not be necessary to read both pieces completely to accomplish this objective.)

Lead students in a discussion of how the items differ. Primarily, contrast the actual/objective nature of the news article with the opinionated/subjective nature of the columnist’s article. Students may be asked to re-read all or a portion of the articles and underline or otherwise highlight the statements of fact in each. Which has the greatest proportion of factual statements? Which has the greatest proportion of opinion?


2.  Divide students into two groups. One is a group of “reporters”; the other is a group of “columnists.” Direct each group’s attention to an event familiar to all students. An excerpt could be taken from a literature selection (Make Way for Ducklings, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), from a subject area textbook (social studies or government), or from a standard folk/fairy tale (Goldilocks’ entry into the house of The Three Bears, Cinderella leaving the ball). The “reporters” are to draft a report of the event as it would appear on Page 1 of a newspaper. The “columnists” are to draft a column responding to the event as it would appear on the newspaper’s editorial page.


3.  Have students choose a topic of interest featured within one of the columns of the OP-ED contributors. Over a two-week period, students will follow the selected topic as it is treated within related news and feature stories, editorials, letters to the editor and editorial cartoons. During the study, special attention is given to the point of view represented within/by each treatment of the topic. If possible, the articles and other readings should be clipped or printed out and saved for reference.

At the end of the second week, an analysis is done to determine the number of perspectives represented within the two weeks of coverage. How many viewpoints are presented? What are they? (Man-on-the-street? Politician? Consumer? Senior citizen? Young professional?) In the opinion of the analyst(s), what, if any, important viewpoint has been omitted?

The students are to prepare/present an oral or written summary on the two weeks of media coverage. The summary should NOT focus on agreeing or disagreeing with the issue but, rather, focus only on the degree to which multiple perspectives were represented.

Extension: If the analysis concludes that an important perspective was not presented, students can write an essay or column addressing the topic or issue from this missing perspective.


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Reading/English Language Arts, Students will compose to express personal ideas by experimenting with a variety of forms and techniques suited to topic, audience and purpose.


English, Grade 8, The student will write in a variety of forms, including narrative, expository, persuasive and informational.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Grade 5, Language for Research and Inquiry, The student summarizes and critiques two or more local newspaper articles dealing with the same topic or issue.

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Interacting

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Locating information, finding the main idea, comparing and contrasting, distinguishing fact from opinion, critical thinking, drawing conclusions, analyzing, evaluating



Check Out the Nation



Point out to students that Politics & The Nation Digest feature abstracts of

news stories occurring in various parts of the country. Note that local and/or regional papers serving the geographic area within which each story occurs very likely carry much more lengthy accounts of the event. Have students consider the importance of a writer being able to distill a long, detailed account of an event into a brief summary. This exercise can be conducted over one or more consecutive days and completed individually or in groups.

The Level 2 exercise could be used to introduce or follow up a lesson on the 5W’s and one H — who, what, when, where, why, and how.

The exercises can also be modified for The World Digest.


1. A dateline is the city (and state or country, if confusion is likely) at the start of the story that tells where the reporter is if he or she is not in the local area. The date may be included if the article was written before that day’s newspaper.

Using Politics & The Nation Digest, have students note the dateline for each story and discuss what they already know about this city or state. Students will then locate each story’s origin on a United States map.

Extension: This exercise can be extended to a social studies project where students, at the end of a two-week period, list those states not covered in Politics & The Nation Digest and prepare a report on those states for the class.


2. Select four or five news articles from Politics & The Nation.  Ask students to choose one of the articles to abstract as if it were to appear in Politics & The Nation Digest. A length limit might be established for the finished abstract. For example, the abstract might be limited to one half, one third, or one fourth the number of sentences used in the original article. (An abstract of an article of 24 sentences could be no more than 12, 8 or 6 sentences in length.)


3. Consider with students how the Politics & The Nation Digest section

of the paper may be thought of as a snapshot of our country or as a barometer of the national condition. Have students follow the news briefs carried in Politics & The Nation Digest for two weeks. The title of each abstract should be recorded and rated

in regard to its report of news using the following code:

+ = Good News

0 = Neither Good Nor Bad News

– = Bad News

Students should create a three-column chart on which to record their data. In the first column, they should record the title of the article. In the second column, record the symbol. In the third column, record for whom this is good, bad or indifferent news. This third column will indicate why they gave the rating of “+,” “0” or “-.”

At the end of the two weeks, students should prepare a report on their findings. The paper should present an objective report summarizing the data analysis (the number and/or percent of “+,” “0,” and “–” stories). The use of graphic presentations in the report (bar graphs, pie charts) should be encouraged. The report should conclude with a personal

response from the researcher/author expressing a subjective reaction to the findings. Examples of personal responses to positive or negative observations can be found within the EDITORIAL or OP-ED section of the paper.


Academic Content Standards and Skills


Reading/English Language Arts, Students will demonstrate their ability to write to express personal ideas by selecting a form and its appropriate elements.


English, Grade 10, The student will critique professional and peer writing.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Grade 5, Language for Research and Inquiry, The student summarizes and critiques two or more local newspaper articles dealing with the same topic or issue.

Fundamental Aim

Reinforce Performing a Task

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Locating information, finding the main idea, identifying, drawing conclusions, evaluating