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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



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



The plot of Avi's novel "Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?" features radio shows. Not only do protagonists Frankie and Mario listen to radio shows constantly, but they also act out scenarios similar to radio shows and include themselves as characters.

After reading or listening to the novel, students chart the plot of the story and discuss how it differs from other novels they have read. They research the history of radio shows, using an online tool. After discussing the character of Frankie, students create an alter ego for themselves and write a character sketch of the alter ego. They create a setting in which their alter ego might have an adventure after discussing setting in the novel. Finally, they examine scripts, and use their alter ego and setting to write their own radio show, similar to the scenarios that Frankie and Mario perform in the novel.

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Short Story Prewriting: This handout can be used as a prewriting activity for any short story.

Radio Research: This online tool guides students in an Internet search for historical information about radio.

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The bottom of the last page of Janet Ewell's article "Convention Memoir: Bringing a Little 'Significance' Back to the Trenches" features a paragraph that was originally published in an issue of English Journal from 60 years ago. Titled "When Radio Ruled," the excerpt states:

"Radio technique has a vital place today in any dramatic program that must define, sometimes instantaneously, American aims, ideals, and traditions. And we must not forget that, with sixty million receiving-sets in the United States, radio becomes the most important medium of communication the world has ever known and must, therefore, occupy a commanding place in the school curriculum." 
- Marion W. Kaplan. "Radio Technique in High-School Dramatics." EJ 34.2 (1945): 88-93.

This view in to the past helps to explain why radio shows were so important in 1940s America. Author Avi, who grew up during this time period, was clearly influenced by the popularity of such shows. In "A Sense of Story," an article from Voices from the Middle, Avi shares that he was a fan of radio shows and chose to include them as a major plot element for his novel "Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?" for that reason and because of their narrative structure. In the same ways that radio shows inspired Avi, they can add to the language arts classroom by providing the opportunity to explore "dialogue, narrative bridges, and short episodic beats" (8).

Further Reading

Avi. "A Sense of Story." Voices from the Middle 11.1 (September 2003): 8-14.


Ewell, Janet. "Convention Memoir: Bringing a Little ‘Significance' Back to the Trenches."  English Journal 95.1 (September 2005): 14-16.

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