Waldo says "Where's Writing?"

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SWBAT identify examples of writing that surrounds them and compare and contrast types of writing.

Big Idea

Writing is all around us! Look through the Waldo glasses at examples from school and use the 'writing process' to create a project about the types of writing!


  • pictures to cut-types of writing (one for each group)
  • 9x13 construction paper (one for each group)
  • 1/2 piece of card stock (cut vertically) to make Waldo glasses 
  • 'Where's Writing' powerpoint (see third section)*
  • set up the whiteboard
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: expository, narrative, persuasive, writing process, brainstorm, edit, rough draft, final draft


This is the first lesson of my 2nd Grade Writers' Workshop.  As we step into the year, I want students to become introspective and EXCITED about writing! I want to create an awareness for the students that writing SURROUNDS us!  Using the glasses and taking the time to "LOOK" helps them to see all of the examples!   I want them to realize that writing is not as scary or cumbersome as they may think!  I also want to EMPOWER them to be creative! My goal is to help them identify themselves as writers and authors.

This is also a very purposeful beginning to this year as the students learn how to follow the steps of writing through experience.  They are beginning to work together as writers and thinkers. I feel that developing the ability to organize, collaborate and be introspective about their writing will make successful and confident writers!

*For the powerpoint, using pictures of things in the school was much better than using internet images.  The kids recognized the posters or artwork from the class and hallways and it had much more meaning than images from the internet. Feel free to change the powerpoint and replace my images with pictures from your class and school.

Let's Get Excited!

10 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


  • Show the "Where's Waldo" clip (check on Waldo's picture on the left, click off the checklist and see if you find him) and ask students what we are looking for. "Yes, we are looking for Waldo". 
  • "Now that you've found Waldo, we'll switch it up and put Waldo glasses on to 'Look for writing! Here's my explanation about finding Waldo and finding writing.
  • "When we looked for Waldo, we checked all over, up and down, side to side. When we look for writing, it's the same. I'll check all around the room and see what writing I can find." 
    • Put on your glasses and model for them how to look for writing in the room. Point out the writing that is all around!  
    • Show the EXIT sign, the class room bulletin boards, bathroom signs, names on the desks....

I want to build awareness in the students that writing surrounds us and it is used in different ways. We are ultimately looking for different kinds of writing (informational, narrative, and persuasive) so it is helpful to have some ideas in mind of what you have in the room before you start this activity.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Introduce the concepts (use the 'Where's Writing' powerpoint)

  • Pull up the powerpoint (slide 1)
  • (slide 2)  "Today we'll look at how to write like a 2nd grader. Good writers follow a process - brainstorm, write a rough draft, edit and write a final draft. We'll talk about brainstorming today."
  • (slide 3)  "Brainstorming means to gather ideas about a topic and make a big list or web of ideas. Let's brainstorm some kinds of writing and make a list." 
  • (slide 4) "As we brainstorm, think about the types of writing. What is each kind of writing used for? "
    • "Narrative writing tells a story, like 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears'
    • "Expository writing describes something or tells you how to do something like recipe or directions of how to put together a toy."
    • "Persuasive writing wants to convince you to do something, like an advertisement on tv or a poster to vote for something."


Model the skill (put on your glasses)

  • Show slides 4-14 and talk about the examples and what kind of writing they are.
  • (slide 5) "Here's a calendar with writing. It describes our activities so it's expository writing."
  • (slide 6) "Here are 2 posters. They're trying to convince us not to feed animals and to eat healthy."
  • (slide 7) "Here's a note that a student wrote about tigers. It's a story, so it's narrative."


Guided Practice (have the kids take turns with the glasses to answer)

  • "Help me with the rest of these."
    • (slide 8) "Here is a poster telling us where to go. What kind of writing?" (expository)
    • (slide 9) "Here's a note reminding us to go to the library? What kind of writing?" (persuasive)
    • (slide 10) "Here's a story about going on the bus. What do you think?" (narrative)
    • (slide 11) "Here's the school menu? What kind?" (expository)
    • (slide 12) "Here's a poster convincing to be quiet. What kind?" (persuasive)
    • (slide 13) "This is a letter about what the mom thinks the child will learn this year." (narrative)
    • (slide 14) "A poster convincing us to not give up." (persuasive)
  • "If we brainstorm ideas about a topic and choose the type of writing, it will be easy to get started."


The kids LOVED the glasses.  They all knew about Waldo and they loved using them. It was a great discussion on turn taking and I got much better participation because they wanted to try them on. I thought about each student making their own, but I think it would have taken too much time and cutting inside the circles would have been difficult.

Let's Set Some Rules

20 minutes

Discuss group work

  • "Before we talk more about writing, I want to take a minute to talk about group work. This year, we'll be doing LOTS of work in groups and we need to set some guidelines. You can help me with this."
  • "When we work in a group, each member  should have a job to do. When I put you in groups, decide who will have each job: a recorder (person who writes), a time-keeper (person who watches the clock), and reporter (person who shares)."
  • "Let's talk about collaboration."
    • "What does it mean to work together?"
    • "How do we participate in a group?"
    • "What kind of voices do we use?"
    • "Do we add comments to what others say?"
    • "If we are not clear, do we ask one another to explain their ideas further?"
  • "Can we make up a list of group rules to use for the rest of the year? I'll take ideas and then type them into a nice poster we can use for group work throughout the year."
  • This is the Group Rules poster that we created based on the kid's ideas. We'll be using this in our other ELA and math lessons throughout the year.


Students are participating in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and determining and then following agreed upon rules for discussions. (SL.2.1) This prepares them to participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Students' Turn

15 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Now that we have these great guidelines for working in groups, we can use them to follow the writing process."
  • Today you'll be brainstorming (identifying types of writing), organizing them into groups, and writing the names of groups."
  • "You'll each get a set of pictures** and large piece of construction paper.
    • "Cut the pictures and brainstorm what you think is happening. 
    • "Collaborate to organize the pictures by the kinds of writing.
    • "Add a few pictures on the blank squares." 
    • "Glue them on the construction paper and write the name of each kind of writing." (powerpoint slide 15)
  • "The pictures in each group may be sorted differently." (A newspaper can be for information or have stories.)  "Make sure your recorder can justify your groups' reasoning-why did you place that picture in that group? " 


Let groups work and monitor

  • The students did group the pictures in different ways. This led up to great discussion such as  - "Yes a newspaper has information and tells a story" or "Well this poster about safety does persuade you to do something and give you information."  I love that the students could justify their answers and we then talked about perspective taking - a great discussion.
  • As groups work, monitor their progress. Ask them to describe a picture and why they are sorting it into a certain group.
  • Here's a sample group project.**

 ** You may notice that I've changed the pictures from the students' samples.  I wanted them to be more clear for the kids.

As groups gather information from provided sources, they are assessing the accuracy and evaluating the information from each source. (W.2.8) They integrate the information and categorize it, justifying their category choices with evidence.  Students are writing from sources (the powerpoint information) and acquiring and utilizing academic vocabulary, a key shift in the Common Core State Standards.



  • "Each group can now come up and share which pictures went into which group."
  • If they are sorted in different ways, ask the groups why they chose that group. Again focus on perspective... answers are not always right or wrong."


This a great activity to talk about "perspectives".  We can evaluate the speakers' point of view and look at their evidence to justify their conclusion.  If students have unique ideas, spend a few moments talking about how we respect others' ideas. This is a great "teachable moment" to show students that different perspectives should be valued as long as they have clear reasoning or evidence.