Metro Section

METRO takes a look around the neighborhood and around the region and reports on the people, places and events that affect the lives of the Washington metropolitan community.

Our metropolitan community is rural, suburban and urban. Nearly 5.8 million people and nearly 2.3 million households live in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Most are highly educated — 67% of all adults have attended college and 37% of those who are age 25 and over hold college degrees.

From the METRO section articles can be selected for information, insight, enrichment or pleasure. METRO provides the background knowledge and vocabulary necessary to foster comprehension. Articles and features in METRO can illustrate how knowledge gained can have a direct application to one’s daily life. The following exercises have been developed for METRO.

As an introduction to this section, it would be helpful if students defined for themselves just what is meant by the term “the Washington metropolitan area.”

Have students browse through the METRO section’s headlines and picture captions for the names and terms that identify specific and general geographic area(s). The list may include:

Beltway Loudoun

D.C. area Northeast (NE)

The District Northwest (NW)

Maryland Prince George’s

Virginia Prince William

Washington Rockville

Arlington Southeast (SE)

Calvert Southwest (SW)

Charles St. Mary’s

Fairfax Springfield Parkway

Use regional maps to plot the place names and terms identified. Browsing for the place names will help familiarize students so they may more readily use this section.

Dr. Gridlock’s commuting column highlights expanded METRO page 2 coverage on Sunday. The Sunday column often contains a map showing highway construction projects or metro delays scheduled for the week ahead. You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails at or faxes at 703-352-3908.

Students can practice their map reading skills by locating the subject of the “Animal Watch” feature on Sunday.

Using the following headings and the current edition of METRO, have students work as a class or in small groups to categorize the section’s articles according to the type of news reported. Depending on the current METRO section, alternative or additional headings may be appropriate.



Drug Awareness/Abuse/Education







Science and Technology

These activities will help develop an understanding of the section’s focus and provide opportunities for positive interaction between students.

Highlights of Metro

Metro (Local News)                

On the front page of METRO every day a key provides brief summary of the major local stories and columns located inside the section.  A glimpse of the day’s weather forecast is also provided.

Local Digest

News briefs that are of particular interest to the metropolitan area.


Remembrance of a life lived and death notices appear in the last pages of the METRO section.  Obituaries are of local residents, former residents and celebrities.


Forecasts for the Washington area along with the country and the world are found on the back page of the METRO section.


These columnists provide commentary on the lives, lifestyles and issues facing metropolitan Washington residents.

John Kelly                               

John Kelly’s Washington

Robert Thomson  

Dr. Gridlock tackles transportation issues.

Robert McCartney                  

A look into various issues the region faces.

Petula Dvorak                         

Column on local issues and issues important to women appearing on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Courtland Milloy    

Columns focusing primarily on residents throughout the Washington region and how they live their lives. He tackles the issues people are concerned about, from how government operates to how teachers teach. He also delves into the water cooler subjects that matter or amuse people. And he profiles residents who might not be considered newsmakers, but whose lives have had impact.

Local Opinion       

Local residents, officials and politicians weigh in on local issues.

What’s the Weather Like in Your Area?


Students may use the WEATHER MAP located on the back page of  METRO to complete the following exercise. You may need to lead a discussion on the importance of weather and have students define the terms involved.

This exercise may be done individually or in groups. A chalkboard, tablet or interactive white board may be needed for Levels 1 and 2. A world map and interactive white board will be needed for Level 3.

For more resources and activities for using the WEATHER MAP, go to

1.   Direct your students’ attention to RECREATIONAL FORECAST. After guiding students in a reading of the forecast for each type of recreational activity, lead adiscussion of which type of recreation they would choose to do today, given the weather predicted. Tabulate the results of the students’ choices. Use the chalkboard, a large newsprint tablet or an interactive white board, to prepare a chart or graph that depicts the number of students choosing each type of activity.

Extension: Ask students to draw a picture showing their participation in their chosen recreation. The picture’s details should be based on information from RECREATIONAL FORECAST (windy, partly sunny, showers, snow or snow flurries). The illustrations may reflect the information carried on the chart (i.e., the most popular recreation would show many more people than the less popular choices).

Extension: Have students draw a picture to illustrate one of the weather conditions. Weather abbreviations are:

s = Sunny,  pc = Partly Cloudy, c = Cloudy, r = Rain, sh = Showers, t = thunderstorms, sf = Snow Flurries, sn = Snow, I = Ice.

Submit pictures to KidsPost for the weather ear. Mail entry to:


The Washington Post

1150 15th Street N.W.,

Washington, D.C. 20071.


2.   Have small groups of students use the WEATHER MAP to study one element of the local weather over a two-week period (for example, temperature, humidity, precipitation, tide times, wind speed and/or direction). Each group is to chart or graph the two-week pattern of their element.

During the two-week period, it will be important to include lessons that demonstrate and model the preparation of graphs and charts. Groups should be encouraged to use color and illustrations to enhance the graphs and/or charts. Have students share their findings and, as a class, consider the following questions to assist in student analysis of the charted data:

•What pattern(s) are seen? Rising temperatures? Falling temperatures? Increasing precipitation? Decreasing precipitation?

•Are there “connections” between one set of data and another? Higher humidity and increased precipitation? Increased precipitation and lower temperatures?

•Based on this two-week study, what is the class/group forecast for the next week?


3.   Direct your students’ attention to the weather information listed for THE NATION. Have each student choose a city from this listing. This may be a city that they may have recently visited or one they would like to visit or a city in the news.

After noting the previous day’s high and low temperatures for the city, ask students to scan the cities listed under THE WORLD for a location that had temperatures very close to those of their U.S. city. The match need not be absolute. For example, a city with a high/low temperature of 81/55 could be paired with one having a high/low of 79/57.

Students will report their matches to the class and plot the paired cities on a world map. The use of individual copies of a world map and/or a classroom map would be useful in plotting the paired locations. Other helpful resources would be maps that show longitude and latitude, the flow of the Gulf Stream, the current tilt and position of the earth in its solar orbit, current large air mass movements and other elements influencing global weather.

As students plot their city-pairs, lead the group in a discussion of those factors that could produce similar weather in any two locations. These factors include relative location in terms of longitude and latitude, the flow of the Gulf Stream, location near large forested areas or near arid deserts.

Extension: Students can conduct a study of these two cities to investigate the degree to which the locations share other characteristics that may be related to common environmental elements. Questions such as the following can be pursued.

•What led early settlers to each city’s location? Proximity to water transportation? Location/ topography that supports agriculture? Consistency of temperature? Favorable trade route location?

•How does the culture of each population reflect their city’s weather pattern? Many outdoor activities versus mostly indoor events? “Manufactured” recreation versus use of natural environment?

•What industries and trades have flourished which might be accountable to the environment?

•In what ways does each city’s government, chamber of commerce and tourism, capitalize upon its weather and other environmental conditions?

In completing this comparison/contrast project, students should be encouraged to be as creative and innovative as possible in collecting information. Travel bureaus, visitor and convention bureaus, hotels, resort centers and embassies are all sources of information on a city’s demographics, history, culture and weather patterns.


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Science, Grade 4, Interactions of Hydrosphere and Atmosphere, Students will recognize and describe that each season has different weather conditions.


Science, Earth Science, The student will observe and collect weather data, predict weather patterns.

Washington, D.C.

Science, Grade 4, Earth and Space Sciences, The student gathers data and compares weather and its affects on areas in different parts of the country.

Fundamental Aim:

Reinforce Performing a Task

Sub-skill Reinforcement:

Locating information, understanding forms, comparing and contrasting, identifying, drawing conclusions, developing visual imagery


Make It Brief


Have students locate LOCAL DIGEST in the METRO section. Conciseness and selection of the most important information make the reports in this feature informative and a fast read.

A globe and maps of the mid-Atlantic and D.C. metropolitan region will be essential for the Level 1 exercise.


1.  In order for students to understand the concept of “region,” lead them in a brief overview of the concepts of “nation” and “world.” You may want to use the DIGESTS from POLITICS & THE NATION and THE WORLD from the MAIN NEWS section to model this part of the exercise.

To teach and/or reinforce an understanding of the word “region,” have students skim the LOCAL DIGEST section, underlining, highlighting or otherwise noting the locations of news stories. Using a United States map — preferably one showing only the East Coast or mid-Atlantic area — work with students to plot these locations.

Questions such as the following can be used to lead students to an understanding of what is meant by “a region”:

•In what states are the cities or areas located?

•Are these states scattered across the nation or are they close to one another? How close? Do they share a border?

•Would a reader expect to find news from West Virginia in this feature? What about News from New York?

•If a newspaper published in Atlanta had a LOCAL DIGEST section, what states might be covered within this section?

•Based on the study of the news contained in LOCAL DIGEST, what is the definition of “region”? How does this definition compare to the dictionary definition?

region: an administrative area; a broad homogeneous geographical area; one of the major subdivisions into which the body or one of its parts is divisible


2.  Have students note the number of articles included in the LOCAL DIGEST section and the geographic areas represented within these articles. Divide the class into small groups numbering the same as the number of section articles (i.e., if the section has six articles, six small groups will be needed). Assign each group with responsibility for one article.

Each group’s assignment is to substitute another newspaper article for its assigned LOCAL DIGEST article.

In completing the assignment, the following criteria must be met:

•The substitute article must represent the same state or area as the original.

•The substitute article and its headline must be rewritten (abstracted) to fit the simplified, concise format required by the news stories in this section. In assisting students in this task, it would be helpful to remind writers of the 5 W’s and one H — who, what, when, where, why and how. Attention should also be drawn to the use of action verbs within headlines.

Extension: Ask students to practice their computer technology skills by creating their own DIGEST column. They will design a logo for the column, select fonts and place their briefs in the layout.


3.  Lead students in a survey of the articles included in LOCAL DIGEST. Divide students into small groups with one group for each article. Each group is to consider their article in light of the impact the reported event could have within their immediate community.

Students should be encouraged to consider the news stories in the broadest sense possible. For example, the opening of a new industry in a nearby city could bring new job opportunities for members of your family. How else could this industry impact your life? Possible answers will include new homes, more children in school, new schools being built, traffic problems, more stores to shop and lower prices brought by competition.

Each group could compile the following information to assist their report to the full class. For the abstract section, have students list the cause for impact. For the implications section, have students list the potential effect on the community.



Abstract of article:


Implications for (community name):


Students should consider creating a visual (a poster, an illustrated flow chart) to demonstrate the potential effect of what at first appears to be an event with little or no immediate significance to the community.

Extension: Students can add to the validity of their projected cause-effect relationship by describing, through text and illustration, an historical or more recent example of this principle.


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading/English, Language Arts, Students will compose to inform using summary and selection of major points.


English, The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of Informational sources. Summarize what is read. Organize and synthesize information for use in written and oral presentation.

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, identifying, drawing conclusions, analyzing, decision making


Columnists Have Their Say


Have students locate the different METRO columnists (see introduction to this section for a list of METRO section columnists).

Like editorial writers, columnists express their opinions about people, actions and events.

This exercise may be done over a period of time and individually or in groups.

Go to for further study of column and commentary writing.  This guide contains an interview with former Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher and an article that Fisher wrote for KidsPost readers.


1.  To develop as strategic readers, students need to recognize the difference between fact and opinion. Direct students’ attention to a columnist from the METRO section whose topic would have appeal to the class. For younger students, you may wish to use the Marc Fisher column included in the Post online guide, “INSIDE Journalism: Composing Columns.”

Before reading the column aloud, lead students in a brief pre-reading discussion about the topic. Discussion should focus on what students already know about the subject/topic.

List all contributions on the chalkboard or overhead. Once the list is developed, ask students to help you label each contribution as a fact (F) or an opinion (O).

In telling what they know about the topic, did students offer more opinions or more facts? Explain to students that as readers, writers, listeners and speakers, it is important to recognize the difference between fact and opinion. Ask the class to follow along as you read the column (or a portion of the column) aloud. After the reading, students should label each statement as a fact (F) or an opinion (O).

Questions like the following can help students analyze their labeling.

•Were facts or opinions found more often within the column?

•Can someone disagree with facts?

•Can someone disagree with opinions?

•Are facts or opinions more persuasive?

•Why is it important to know the difference between facts and opinions?

Based on their writing, how do reporters differ from columnists?

If students keep a writing folder or journal, they may find it interesting to survey a few pieces of their own writing. How do the number (or proportion) of facts and opinions compare?

Extension: Use the above procedure with a news article about the same topic covered by the columnist. Compare the results.

Extension: This activity could be expanded into a discussion that considers the importance of this type of strategic reading and listening as related to being politically aware and/or being a wise consumer.

Extension: Ask students to consider how the balance of fact and opinion shifts depending on the type of writing or reading being done: research, personal, creative, persuasive, expository, narrative.


2.  Have students read the FEDERAL DIARY by Joe Davidson and outline the subjects discussed in the articles. Students should make special notes of facts, figures, and data mentioned in the column.

Choosing one of the topics from their readings, students should explain why this information would be of importance to a federal employee. Students should also make note of the additional resources mentioned by Joe Davidson in the FEDERAL DIARY to complete this assignment.


3. For two weeks, lead students in a reading and discussion of METRO columnists. You may wish to select from Petula Dvorak, Robert McCartney and Courtland Milloy. More than the columnist’s opinion or stand on an issue, the during-reading and post-reading discussions should focus on the columnists’ writing styles.

During these readings and discussions, students should keep journals or records of particularly effective writing examples (e.g., a powerful word choice, an especially effective simile or metaphor, a striking analogy or allusion, notable opening and/or ending statements). Have students refer to these journal or log entries as they consider and discuss the writing style of each columnist.

Questions such as the following can generate and focus these discussions:

•How does each begin his or her column?

•How is each column ended?

•How is word choice used effectively?

•Are sentences mostly simple and direct or are the structures more complex?

•What is(are) the source(s) of most of the columnist’s analogies or allusions?

•Does the columnist include personal experience?

•Does the columnist quote sources from the community?

•Like TV shows, columnists are said to have a “following.” What about these columnists gives them a following? Their writing? Their opinion? Both?


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading/English, Language Arts, Students will assess the effectiveness of details, organizational pattern, word choice syntax, use of figurative language and rhetorical devices ….


English, Grade 7, The student will distinguish fact from opinion in newspapers, magazines, and other print media. The student will describe how word choice and language structure convey an author’s viewpoint. 

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English, Language Arts, Grade 5, Language as Meaning Making, The student recognizes and understands literary devices including metaphors, analogy, irony, exaggeration and personification.

Fundamental Aim:

Reinforce Interpreting

Sub-skill Reinforcement:

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

Photographs Project an Image


Have students scan the METRO section for photographs to prepare for the following exercise. The photographs should include portrait shots and candid pictures. Have students cut out the photographs with the cutline and article. They will need that information to identify the individual(s) pictured and other information.

This exercise can be done over a period of time. Students will need scissors, glue, paste or tape for Levels 1 and 2 if they are using the print Sunday edition and index cards for Level 1.

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


1.  With the exception of TV personalities, students often know a name but have no face to associate with that name. Have students begin a file of METRO personalities.

Students are to cut portrait shots of significant people from the METRO section or print portrait shots out using the e-Replica print feature. These photos should be mounted on index cards and labeled with the following information which can be taken from the cutline and article accompanying the photo:

•Name of person pictured

•Person’s importance. This may include mayor of (city), chief of police for (city), Democratic or Republican candidate for (office), president of (organization), council person for (ward).

A photo file can be created for quick reference when a local leader or other personality is mentioned in a news article or when a social studies lesson focuses on community or local government organizations or agencies.

Extension: A photo file or display could be started which features one person represented by several different posed and candid pictures (various portrait shots, addressing a group, action shots). The goal would be to represent the individual in as many moods and activities as possible. If this is a campaign year, have students indicate where and with whom the candidate is meeting. How does function and group to whom the candidate is appealing influence dress?


2.  Over a one-week period, have students develop a file of at least five photographs that interest them. Each photo should be mounted on a piece of paper. On the same piece of paper, have students list three to five words or short phrases noting the source of interest (bicycle, tears, smile, handcuffs).

At the end of the week, students will select one picture around which to write a story. The photograph’s word list can provide ideas and vocabulary for descriptions of the character(s) and setting as well as suggest a problem/solution (i.e., plot).

Extension: Students can continue to add photographs clipped from the Sunday newspaper or printed out from e-Replica and many other sources to this picture file. The collection can be used to encourage creative writing at those times when a student responds, “I don’t know what to write about.”


3. Draw students’ attention to the action pictures (versus portrait photographs) in the METRO section. Lead students in a discussion centering on how the pictures support their accompanying articles. Have them cite specific references in the articles which are illustrated in the photos.

•In what way(s) does a picture support or clarify information presented in the article?

•Was it used to merely attract the “browser” into reading the article?

•How are the picture’s subjects interacting with each other or the environment?

•Is this interaction related to the point of the story?

Have students read and discuss a METRO article that does not have one or more accompanying photos.

•Would an action picture have added to the article’s information or effectiveness?

•If so, what would the picture show?

•What are some possible reasons why a picture was not used with the article?

Extension: A photographer can be invited to the class to discuss the elements that make a picture “worth a thousand words,” remaining professional in all photo assignments, getting the information for the cutlines and a photojournalism career.


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading/English, Language Arts, Students will identify and use text features [illustrations and pictures, photographs, drawings] to facilitate understanding of informational texts.


English, The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of … informational sources. Use pictures to make predictions ….

Washington, D.C.

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

Fundamental Aim:

Developing Positive Attitudes and Personal Interests

Sub-skill Reinforcement:

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