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Lesson Plan

Alter Egos and More with Avi's "Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?"

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Alter Egos and More with Avi's "Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?"

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five (optional)


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • identify the plot, character, and setting of a text.

  • complete Internet research on 1940s radio.

  • use their knowledge of characterization to create a new character.

  • compare and contrast setting in a text to contemporary settings.

  • tell a story featuring the new character.

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Session One

  1. After students have read or heard "Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?" by Avi, work together to chart the plot of the story. You can work on the board or chart paper, or use an LCD projector to use the Plot Diagram Tool.

  2. Invite students to talk more about the writing of the the novel, using the following questions as discussion starters:

    • How does the structure of the novel differ from other stories you've read?

    • How does the placement of the radio show transcripts make the plot different from other stories you know?

    • How does the main character of the story reenacts the plots from radio shows?
  3. Demonstrate how to explore sample radio broadcasts, radio shows, and their components using the Radio Research Tool.

  4. Allow the rest of the session for students to explore the Websites linked in the Radio Research Tool and to complete the related activities.

  5. Remind students to print out their work for a discussion during the next session.

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Session Two

  1. Begin the session by asking students to share the discoveries they made while using the Radio Research Tool. Document students' findings on the board or chart paper if desired.

  2. Answer any questions the students may have.

  3. Next, as a class, talk about the character of Frankie, using the following questions to get discussion started:

    • What is Frankie like?

    • How does Frankie act?

    • How do you distinguish between Frankie and his alter ego, Chet Barker?
  4. Read the passage from the novel where Frankie, in radio show format, introduces the character of Chet Barker and his sidekick, Skipper O'Malley (page 49 in the hardcover edition).

    • What does this passage tell you about the character of Frankie?

    • How does this play out in the rest of the novel?
  5. Using the Character Map section of the Story Map, ask students to create an alter ego for themselves, just as Frankie creates Chet Barker as an alter ego for himself and creates Skipper O'Malley as an alter ego for Mario. Alternately, students can use the character questions from the Short Story Prewriting sheet.

  6. Remind students to printout their finished work if they are using the online interactive.

  7. Using their printed Character Maps from the Story Map or their responses to the prewriting sheet, have students compose a passage describing their alter ego. They can again refer to the character description from the book (page 49 in the hardcover edition).

  8. Allow time for students to share their character sketches with the class.

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Session Three

  1. To explore the time period in which "Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?" is set, ask students to brainstorm a list of examples from the book that tell readers when the story takes place. Possible examples include references to World War II, the radio shows, the characters who are mentioned, and the jobs that are described. If students need a more structured activity, ask them to complete the Setting Map section of the Story Map or to answer the setting questions from the Short Story Prewriting sheet.

  2. Record students' responses on the board or chart paper.

  3. Once the students have established the setting from the book, display or pass out copies of the Early Radio Pictures Web page.

  4. Explain how students will complete the activity (individually or in groups), and go over the tasks included on the Web page, and answer any questions students have.

  5. Allow 20 to 30 minutes for them to complete their work.

  6. Circulate among students, providing assistance and feedback as appropriate.

  7. Once students have completed the activity, ask them to share their findings with the whole class. Take notes on their observations on the board or on chart paper.

  8. Ask students to think of the alter ego they created in the previous session, and compose a current-day setting where their alter ego might have an adventure.

  9. Allow time for students to share their settings with the class.

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Session Four

  1. Review the character and setting information from the previous sessions, allowing any volunteers to share their work with the class.

  2. Point out that Frankie and Mario often turn everyday events into a radio-type drama.

  3. Read the passage from the text where Frankie recounts his run-in with Miss Gomez by transforming the actual events into a dramatic format (page 78 in the hardcover edition).

  4. Discuss the everyday event behind Frankie's drama

  5. Ask students to brainstorm everyday events from their own lives that might make an interesting drama. Record their responses on the board or on chart paper.

  6. Using the character and setting that they composed in previous sessions, ask students to compose a radio script using one of an everyday event as the basis.

  7. Revisit the scripts' site from the Radio Research Tool to help students with their writing, if needed.

  8. As students write during this session, encourage them to share their work with each other and ask questions as necessary. If students need additional writing time, they can continue to work on their scripts for homework, or you can add another session to allow them more time to write and revise their drafts.

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Session Five (optional)

  1. Ask students to find examples of advertisements in "Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?"

  2. Record their responses on chart paper or the board.

    • Some of the products advertised are Ovaltine, Shredded Oat Cakes, POW! cereal, Fudgesicles, Creamsicles, Popsicles, and model soldiers.

    • Use the link from the Radio Research Tool to learn more about commercials of that time.
  3. Invite students to write and share their own advertisements for some modern products, or ask students to compare the advertisements of the 1940s to ads for the same products today. For example, there are still commercials and advertisements for Ovaltine.

  4. Ask students to add these commercials to their drafts, following the model for commercials in the novel.

  5. Allow time in class for students to share what they learned about their advertisements.

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  • Frankie and Mario imagined that they were crime-fighting heroes. Many comic books do the same thing-they take a regular person and turn him or her into a superhero. For examples, think about how Clark Kent turns in to Superman or Peter Parker becomes Spiderman. Invite students to study comic books and how they are similar or different to the characters on old-time radio shows.

  • There are many radio dramas included in "Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?" Choose an example, and invite students to present the book as a radio drama. Cast all of the parts, including an announcer who introduces the program, students who do commercial breaks, and a soundtrack manager who plays background music and appropriate noises. In addition, there should be a director who manages the radio program and all of its components. Record the drama, and play it at Open House.

  • In Session Five, students create commercials. Invite students to create a print ad using the Comic Creator. These can then be printed and displayed.

  • Follow up this lesson by having students investigate the technical process of receiving satellite radio using the interactive site How Satellite Radio Works.

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The students create many artifacts during this lesson: notes from the Radio Research Tool, Plot Diagram Tool, and Story Map as well as the drafts they write while composing their alter ego, modern setting, and radio scripts. Assess these pieces for the thoroughness and completeness. While students are working on these projects, talk to the students and observe their work and the connections they make to the text. Students will also share their projects with the class. Use this time to take anecdotal notes as well as notice how the presenting student answers questions asked by the class.

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