Three Months, 18 Years — Post Resources for You

Brain damage, a new competitive sport, advocacy advertisements, elder boom and young worker shortage, current global and national issues, our relationship with works and kids and an appreciation of Toni Morrison are covered in this month’s guide with suggested activities for using the Post reprints.

We experimented with prototypes of a curriculum guide, then prepared The Science in Discovery that was posted online the night of September 10, 2001, for teachers to have the next day. Ironically, Oetzi, a 5,300-year-old Iceman who was killed by an arrow, was featured in that guide. Within days of the September 11, 2001, attacks on America and the posting of The Washington Post’s Newspaper In Education (NIE) program’s first online curriculum guide, we had posted a second guide to assist classroom teachers.


The tragic acts of terrorism of September 11, 2001, prompted the NIE to provide Media in the Time of Tragedy, a collection of activities, lesson plans and Web resources. We encouraged teachers and publications advisers to use these unprecedented acts in the American experience to teach students how such tragedy is handled in the media. In this curriculum guide, teachers were provided three lessons: “Today’s First Rough Draft of History” focused on using the newspaper to understand terrorist attacks. In addition to current articles, teachers were provided with excerpts from three other stories of terrorism and national uncertainty: The attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the downing of Flight 103 over Scotland. “The Horror and the Heroes” presented a study of the September 13 Post editorial. The third lesson, “Finding the Local Angle,” gave newspaper advisers tips for including the terrorist attacks in a special section of their publications.


Since then we have gone from posting PDFs on to digital curriculum guides at with two to three resource guides in PDF. These allow teachers to download and use suggested activities with students. The INDEX in one of this month’s resource guides provides teachers with a quick reference to many of the topics, themes and activities in the guides that have been produced between Autumn 2001 and Spring 2019.


As a different approach, in this month’s curriculum guide we have reprinted commentary, from the months of July-August 2019. Teachers can use them to see what students were aware of over the summer, to serve as stepping stones to current topics covered in your subject area and to get students to share their reactions to the subjects presented. A selection of Tom Toles’ editorial cartoons are also included to enhance visual literacy and critical thinking.



Post Podcasts
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Review the Range
2001-2019 Curriculum Guide Index
Reading, Topics to Cover Every Discipline

Dr. Vincent Reed started The Washington Post’s Newspaper In Education (NIE) program in the late 80s. At that time it was part of the Public Relation Department. INSIDE became part of the Circulation Department ten years later. Resource guides originally were photocopied and delivered personally to participating schools.


In the 18 years since the first online curriculum guides were posted, topics were selected from an array of Post coverage for potential classroom enrichment and fulfillment of academic standards. In recent years, disciplines most likely to use the suggested activity have been noted.


Review the range of topics. While all are based on current events and findings, many are evergreen. Crossword puzzles, word finds, etymology (Word Study), and map reading activities are ready to use. “Meet the …” introduce careers in media. Some articles, lede reading and journalistic writing exercises, and informational graphics are applicable at any time. Many can be used for comparison and contrast, then-now, and follow-up exercises. Some, like the e-Replica guide and suggested activities, help teachers to use the e-Replica format more fully with students.


Cartoons by Herblock and Tom Toles are great for visual literacy and current events — symbols, iconic images and succinct communication. They also illustrate how being knowledgeable in history and literature can add depth to comprehension.


The D.C. history series, Watergate and Pentagon Papers, and You and Your Rights lessons enrich history classes. 


B1 with e-Replica
Journalism, Media Literacy, Reading, Social Studies

The METRO section takes readers into the neighborhoods — rural, suburban and urban — to report on the people, places and events of the D.C. Metropolitan area. In addition to the METRO reporting staff, columnists John Kelly, Petula Dvorak and Theresa Vargas give fresh perspectives on issues, people and events.


Teachers might have current METRO front pages (B1) to introduce students to the reader aids found at the top of the page as well as the number of stories that begin on this page. Use the e-Replica editions to give a sense of the variety of subjects covered. The following days offer a strong introduction to B1 coverage:

April 25, 2019: “Gifts of love, with no strings” is a follow-up to an earlier story about GMU student Eddie Adams. Read the lede for an example of a re-cap/summary lede. What is the new dimension to the first news story?


July 9, 2019: Note the size of headline typeface. Also, that headlines of feature stories are centered. Those of news stories begin at the left margin. What is the weather story? Where can a quick view of the day’s weather be found? Which story do they find most interesting?


July 29, 2019: How many stories deal directly with young people? Which do they want to continue reading? Note the tease for John Kelly’s Washington. Kelly attended high school in Maryland.


July 30, 2019: Assign a story to student groups to read and summarize. Did the lede paragraph, photograph and/or headline grab their attention? How does this story give you a glimpse into what is happening in the region?


August 1, 2019: One person’s life is briefly highlighted in the upper right corner each day. Some of the obituaries are local personalities. Why do you think this day’s person was selected?  Also discuss how the photograph, headline and subhead on B1 work together to communicate a basic idea before the first paragraph is read. What is student connotation of “Baltimore”? Who have visited there? What do students learn from the article? In what way does the article about Ben Carson balance coverage?


Read Petula Dvorak
Ethics, Journalism, Social Studies

METRO section columnist Petula Dvorak includes examples of her thesis in “Our indifference toward kids is unconscionable.” 

• Discuss the events and actions that she lists. Were students aware of these actions against young people? How are these a picture of 2019?

• What is Dvorak’s main idea?

• What do students think students can do in or about any of these circumstances?

• From a writer’s perspective, when are lists effective to support an idea?


Consider the Words You Use
Composition, English, Environmental Studies, Journalism, Science, Government

Read and discuss the Style section article by Dan Zak, “Words Fail: How do we talk about what’s happening to our planet?” This article would be very good to use with Advanced Placement English Language and Composition students and Honors English as well as science courses to challenge students to be aware of the power to influence others through the denotation and connotation of the words they use.


Find the Keener Word is provided for use with this essay.

Hot Topics
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Get In the Know
English, Reading, Vocabulary Development

In the Know section usually provides terms associated with the main focus on the month’s curriculum guide or words used by writers in reprinted articles. This month In the Know is a selection of words added to the dictionary in 2019 and found frequently in Post headlines in the last months.


Teachers may wish to review them with students, assign students terms to define them, or ask students to locate the terms in news stories.


Want a New Competitive Sport?
Economics, Health, Physical Education, Social Studies

Petula Dvorak is a METRO columnist who covers a wide range of topics. As a mother, she includes the interests and attitudes of her children. Read and discuss “High schools are starting to bet on esports to engage and motivate.” Would your students want this competitive sport added to your school’s athletic offering?


What About Tackle Football?
Economics, Health, Physical Education, Social Studies

Mark Hyman, a professor of sports management at George Washington University, and Robert C. Cantu, clinical professor of neurology and neurosurgery and co-founder of the CTE Center at the Boston University School of Medicine, co-authored  “Brain injuries, other dangers of tackle football.”


Teachers may discuss with students their awareness of the potential for concussions in contact sports before reading the guest commentary. Questions might include:

• What is a concussion?

• How do your school’s coaches handle concussions?

• How many contact sports are played at your school? How many players on each team?

• Is turn-out for these sports declining? Remaining the same? Increasing?

• Do teams have an assigned physician for games/competitions? What about during practice?


Read and discuss “Brain injuries, other dangers of tackle football.” Questions might include:

• How strong are the authors’ arguments? Most compelling argument?

• What is CTE? What are “subconcussive hits”?

• Does the introduction of the U.S. Surgeon General add another twist to the issue?



Speak Up and Listen, Athletes
Ethics, Physical Education, Social Studies

The You and Your Rights activity Speak Up. Listen. Free Speech? centers on the right — perhaps, responsibility — of athletes and sports journalists to express their opinions on and off the field of play. Is this a First Amendment issue or one involving contracts and business policies? Teachers may include the suggested research activity to learn more about the motivation of successful athletes who chose to express their points of view.


As part of this activity students are asked to read a John Feinstein column, “‘Stick to sports’ is the wrong response. So try listening.”



Grasp the Maine Situation
Career Education, Economics, U.S. History, Social Studies

Read the Post Business section article, “‘This will be catastrophic’: Maine families face elder boom, worker shortage in preview of nation’s future.”

Questions to use with the article are found in A Shortage of Young Workers.



Read About Books

Read the Editorial Cartoons
Art, English, Government, U.S. History, Visual Literacy

Tom Toles, The Washington Post’s editorial cartoonist, provides visual commentary Monday through Friday in the print edition. Online his cartoons have titles that we have added in the selected ones found in this guide. Discussion questions [GUIDE 2] are ready for you to hand to students with the 2019 National Issues group of cartoons.


Consider the Price of Freedom of the Press
Government, Journalism, Social Studies

At the beginning of this activity, discuss with students what an advocacy ad is.

Give students the advocacy advertisement for August 2019. Locate on a map where these actions are taking place against journalists.


Through the Press Freedom Partnership, The Washington Post and other publications each month publish advocacy ads to inform the public of the personal attacks — imprisonment, threats, loss of employment, death — upon journalists around the world. The Post’s Jamal Khashoggi was No. 1 on the August 2019 list. Some people remain on the list; others are replaced. What does this communicate about the dangers faced by journalists?


Teachers may continue discussion of the price of freedom with questions such as

• What is the role of the journalist? Of the foreign correspondent

• What does it mean to be a “watch dog”?

• Why do governments, corporate officials and others attack journalists?

• Are political cartoonists immune from attacks? 


Should Media Publish Graphic Images?
Art, Ethics, Journalism, Media Literacy, Photography

Paul Farhi, The Post’s media reporter, provides background on the decision to (or not to) publish the “now-iconic photo of the bodies of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramfrez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria.” Read and discuss “A graphic photo gives the press pause.” 

• Does the American public need to see the lifeless bodies as well as the line of people waiting to enter the U.S.?

• What about photographs taken inside the detention centers?

• What is the responsibility of the photojournalist?

• What stories are told in the photographs that appear with today’s edition of The Washington Post?


Teachers will note that the photograph appears on the second page of the reprinted article. You may decide to not give students beyond the first page. You could put a period after “A major exception was the New York Times.”

Appreciate Toni Morrison
English, Media Literacy, Reading, U.S. History

"The Tenacity of Hope," the Toni Morrison appreciation essay by Ron Charles is beautifully written. It can be read to meet the author before reading one of Morrison’s works or just to be introduced to a black woman who wrote “the greatest novel of the 20th century” and received the Nobel Prize in literature.


This homage to her may be paired with her obituary, “Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate who transfigured American literature, dies at 88.”  Compare and contrast the styles and the content.


Teachers might also want to share a Sports column by Kevin B. Blackistone that brings together the intersection of sports, culture and literature: “Toni Morrison’s work with Muhammad Ali foretold a gift for chronicling the black experience.” This tells of Chloe Anthony Wofford’s work on editing The Greatest: My Own Story.



Post NIE Guide Editor | Carol Lange
Post NIE Guide Art Editor | Carol Porter

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In The Know 

 In the Headlines and Added to the Dictionary  
Active shooter  
Climate breakdown  
Flash flood  
Garbage time  
Gig economy  
Gun control  
Page view  
Red-flag laws  
Vulture capitalism  
These terms are a selection of words added to the dictionary in 2019 and terms found in Post headlines and stories in the last three months.  

ANSWERS.  Speak Up. Listen. Free Speech?

Here are starting points for further research of the listed athletes:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 1975 —refusal to pay the fine and was willing to go to court to contest its imposition

National Basketball Association star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, 1996 — suspended for one game for refusing to stand for a national anthem as a protest related to his religious beliefs

Muhammed Ali, 1966-7 — refusal to go to Vietnam

Charles Barkley — use of Nike commercials

Brittney Griner and Layshia Clarendon — transgender bathroom use

LeBron James — hoodie-themed photo of Miami Heat players in solidarity with those demanding an investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin

Toni Smith, 2003 — protest U.S. going to war with Iraq

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, 1968 — black glove at Olympics ceremony

The Syracuse 8, 1970 — better medical care, academic access, fair selection for playing positions and a diversified coaching staff

Tim Tebow — appeared in an anti-abortion Super Bowl ad

Tim Thomas — refused to attend the White House Stanley Cup ceremony

Venus Williams — advocated pay equity for female tennis players

District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

The District of Columbia has adopted the Common Core State Standards in reading and mathematics. In addition, DCPS has adopted new learning standards in arts, health and physical education, science, social studies, technology and world languages.



Academic Content Standards may be found at

Maryland Academic Content Standards 

Vertical Progressions: Language. Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.  (Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards, English Language, Grades 11-12)

Vertical Progressions: Writing. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

1. Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation and its significance, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.

2. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.

3. Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole and build toward a particular tone and outcome (e.g., a sense of mystery, suspense, growth, or resolution).

4. Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters. (Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards, Writing, Grades 11-12)


The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum Content Standards can be found online at

Virginia Academic Content Standards 

The student will conduct research to answer questions or solve problems using available resources. (K.12, English)


9.2. The student will produce, analyze and evaluate media messages.

b)    Determine the purpose of the media message and its effect on the audience.

c)     Analyze the purpose of information and persuasive techniques used in diverse media formats.

d)    Evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind media presentation(s).

e)     Examine how values and viewpoints are included or excluded and how the media can influence beliefs, behaviors, and interpretations.

f)     Describe possible cause-and-effect relationships between mass media coverage and public opinion trends.

g)     Evaluate sources, including advertisements, editorials, political cartoons, and feature stories for relationships between intent and factual content.

(Communication and Multimedia Literacies)

Academic Content Standards may be found at

Common Core Standards 

Language. L.9-10.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


Reading: Informational Text. RI.9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.


Reading: Informational Text. RI.9-10.8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.


Common Core standards may be found at