Sunday OUTLOOK Section

Introduction

Each Sunday, Washington Post readers can expect to find an entire section of thought-provoking opinions on a wide canvas of issues in the OUTLOOK (B Section) of the newspaper.

Readers can expect to find a variety of issues and writers of various backgrounds usually with a unique perspective on any given topic garnered from their professional, often personal, experience on the subject matter. Any opinion piece should feature good reporting. In OUTLOOK, the well written point of view often has an “inside” viewpoint on the featured topic. This gives the reader the opportunity to “step into the shoes” of the writer and see that topic with a fresh perspective.

Before discussing OUTLOOK with your students, allow them time to browse through the section and take note of the following:

  • What does each piece have in common with the others? What are the differences?
  • Who are the writers?  Consider the variety of careers and backgrounds represented. Are there any Washington Post staff writers? Are there any cabinet officials, members of congress, local appointed or elected officials?
  • Ask them to consider how this section is organized. Why are some pieces featured on the front page of OUTLOOK and others inside the section? What are the regular features and columnists within OUTLOOK?
  • Why is “BOOK WORLD” included in this section (at one time, it was a separate, stand-alone, section in the Sunday Washington Post)? What type of books are reviewed here and what do the reviews have in common with the other pieces in OUTLOOK?
  • What type of advertising is found in the OUTLOOK section? What are the advertisers trying to “sell” and who is their target audience?
  • Ask students to explore the visual imagery of the section. How does the artwork, photograph, chart or graphic that is associated with each piece of writing support the point of view of the writer? Enhance the tone? Discuss what OUTLOOK would be like without any visual imagery.

 

One final discussion you may wish to have with your students about OUTLOOK involves the question of readership. Who are the people likely to be most interested in this type of writing? Ask them to think about their own family members and which, if any, of the articles they might recommend to people they know based on their professions or personal interests.

You might point out that because the automobile industry is the largest industry in the city of Detroit, readers in that city would expect to find a certain percentage of articles in their newspapers that pertain to that industry. Since the largest “industry” in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area is the federal government, it is likewise expected that a large number of the news stories and editorials would have a direct or indirect connection to the federal government. With this in mind, ask students to take a second look at the most recent OUTLOOK section and decide which profession or professions would be most interested in each article and explain why.

 

What is my “Outlook”?

Introduction

Ask students to look up the definition(s) of the word, “outlook” in the dictionary. Write the definition or definitions on the board. Next ask students to think of synonyms for the word: viewpoint, perspective and attitude.

 

Level 1

Have students look at the visual imagery in OUTLOOK. What does each image tell them, if anything, about the outlook of the artist or the writer on life in general or on the topic presented? Ask students to think of what defines their own “outlook” on life.  What are their personal beliefs, hobbies, values, ideas and how do these things affect the way they see the world around them?

Using a spotlight or projector, each student will draw a silhouette of his or her head on a large poster board or sheet of paper.

Next, each student will create a collage inside the silhouette of his or her head. The collage will be made up of “found” images or words from the newspaper which illustrate that student’s personal “outlook” on life. 

Students should write a short summary to go along with their collage explaining why they chose these particular words and images and share their artwork with the class.

For more ideas on using the news to create art, see our guide News as Art

 

Level 2

Ask each student to think of something they are good at and do all the time. It could be a sport, a hobby, an artistic endeavor, or a particular subject at school. They might browse through The Washington Post to come up with ideas.

Once they have chosen a subject, they are to complete a writing assignment. Their writing must use a first-person point of view and might begin with such statements as: “I believe …,” “I think …,” “I enjoy …,” or “… has always been an important part of my life.” The objective of the writing is to persuade the reader to take interest in or try the subject.

They must include a brief background or history of the subject they have chosen, assuming their readers have no knowledge at all of the topic.  You might even suggest that their reader is a visitor from another planet.  

Encourage students to share their writing with the rest of the class. Point out how the perspective on the topic might be different if the student writer did not have a personal connection to the topic.

See our online guide to writing INSIDE Journalism: The Editiorial Page

 

Level 3

Have students select an article of personal interest from any recent OUTLOOK section. Next ask the students to decide which statements in the article they agree with and which they disagree with or statements with which they have a different perspective based on personal experience.

Encourage students to use the search feature of The Washington Post e-Replica edition to find recent Washington Post news articles on the subject. Do the other writers support their opinion, disagree with their opinion or partially agree? What facts are provided? Who are the reliable sources? How might the news article provide information to research and to strengthen their arguments?

The students’ assignment is to write an OUTLOOK-style piece with a viewpoint that partly or entirely opposes the point of view of the article they have selected. Students should be encouraged to support their viewpoint both with personal experience and with research, citing sources appropriately.

Encourage students to share their writing with the class and observe how the personal experiences of each individual writer helped to support that writer’s point of view.

See our guide INSIDE Journalism: Composing Columns

Using “5 Myths”

Introduction

Draw your students’ attention to the “5 Myths” column that usually appears on page 2 or 3 of the OUTLOOK section. Ask students what a “myth” is and encourage them to look up the word in a dictionary. Most resources will list two definitions. One has to do with traditional stories that people pass on from generation to generation that are often connected to a particular culture or religion. Have students think of examples from their own studies, especially from the classic myths of the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, or others.

Another meaning of myth has to do with a perception that many people seem to have that is actually false. These are the kind of myths addressed in this weekly column. The writers are chosen for an area of expertise. Show students where to find this information before reading the column.


Level 1

This optional activity is provided for teachers who want to distinguish the definitions of myths.

Ask students to think of a classical myth that they might have read about in a book, seen on a TV program or in a movie, or learned about in social studies. Next, give the students the following assignment.

  • Tell what culture the myth comes out of and summarize the myth in your own words.

 

  • What natural occurrence do you think the people who told this story were trying to explain? Is there a “lesson’ in the story about human being’s relationship to their god or gods, to one another, or to nature? If so, what is that lesson?

Ask older students to conclude by writing about what scientific discoveries have been made that now disprove this myth. What were the discoveries, who made them and when were they made?

 

Level 1

Ask students to read the 5 Myths found in the most recent OUTLOOK section.

  • What topic is addressed?

 

  • What experience or expertise does the writer have to qualify him or her to address myths about the topic?

 

  • Summarize each of the five myths associated with the topic on their own paper

 

  • For each myth add their reaction to the myth as explained by the expert writer. Did the writer change their opinions?

Read through each myth for a second time as a class, take a class poll to see how many students agree or disagree with the writer’s point of view. Do students understand what the writer is stating? What other ideas should be considered for each myth?

 

Level 2

Many of the articles found in the pages of OUTLOOK have been written under the writer’s assumption that his or her readers have certain preconceived “myths” about their topic of choice. For example, a recent OUTLOOK piece written by a female Marine describing her experience training for the Marine Infantry Officer Course, assumes that at least some of her readers are opposed to the idea of women serving in combat positions.

Have students select one or more articles from recent issues of OUTLOOK to analyze. They can make two columns. The first column will state the myth the writer is trying to refute in one or two sentences. The second column will list at least one objective fact which the writer presents to counter the myth.

After understanding the structure and content of 5 Myths, students are ready to write their own 5 Myths. Students might also be encouraged to come up with an example of a myth they believe is widely held in their school or community and write an editorial in which they explain:

  • Why they think this myth is held by so many people? Perhaps they might take a poll, asking a question like, “Do you believe boys are better than girls at sports?” Or “Algebra is a subject few of us will actually need later in life.”

 

  • Students will next list evidence which disproves the myth, beginning with the least persuasive argument and ending with the most persuasive. Students must properly source each piece of evidence presented.

 

  • Encourage students to include some sort of informational graphic or photo to support their position that the myth is false. They might even present their argument in the form of a Power Point presentation.


Level 3

Students will select a topic of interest from the news.  They will then follow that topic over a certain period of time.  Encourage them to use the “Search” feature in e-Replica to keep up with the topic.

Based on their research, students will then write their own “5 Myths” column on their chosen topic, using the “5 Myths” section of OUTLOOK as a model.

Worst Week in Washington

Introduction

Point out the short column by Chris Cilizza usually found on B2 titled, “The Worst Week in Washington.” Who is the subject of the column this week? Do the students recognize this person?

Read the article. What happened in the past week that made it the “worst week” for this person? Which events were something the person actually did or said? Which just happened to the person through no fault of his or her own? 

Ask students to think about what kinds of things might happen in Washington, in particular, that make someone’s week bad. Chris Cilizza writes about politics for The Washington Post.  Is the person he is writing about an elected official? If so, do the events of the week affect whether this person might be reelected again the next time he or she is up for reelection?

What do the students think the person might do to make the coming week better?

 

Level 1

Ask students to write a paragraph or short essay describing their own “worst week” or “worst day.” They should include both things that happened that were not in their control (i.e. it was raining, or their parents’ car broke down on the way to school, or they got sick) as well as things they did (forgot their homework, teased their brother or sister and got grounded).  They should conclude by writing about what action they took to turn things around, either that same day or week, or the following.

 

Level 2

Is it possible to include a column in OUTLOOK, entitled, “Best Week in Washington”? If so, who would the students nominate?

Ask students to look through the news and select a person who they believe had the best week in Washington.  Using “Worst Week in Washington” as a model, write a column describing who they would nominate and why. 

Students might also practice letter writing skills and write a letter to the person who is the subject of a “Worst Week …” column, offering him or her advice on how they might turn things around and make the coming week a better one.

 

Level 3

At the end of his column every week, Cilizza asks readers to come up with their own candidate for “Worst Week in Washington.” Have students follow the news carefully one week and submit their own candidate by Friday morning. They should provide at least three reasons why that person deserves to be included in that coming Sunday’s OUTLOOK. Students can e-mail their choice to chris.cillizza@washpost.com

Book World

 For ideas on using this section with your students, please see our guide Reviewing a Whirl of Books



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