Close Read-aloud, Session 1: The Invisible Boy | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G2:M1:U1:L6

Close Read-aloud, Session 1: The Invisible Boy

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These are the CCS Standards addressed in this lesson:

  • RL.2.1: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
  • RL.2.7: Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
  • W.2.8: Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
  • SL.2.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • SL.2.1a: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
  • L.2.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can participate in a discussion to answer questions using details from The Invisible Boy to support my answers. (RL.2.1, RL.2.7, SL.2.1a)
  • I can define the words invisible and visible. (L.2.4)

Ongoing Assessment

  • During Work Time A, use the Reading Literature Checklist to track students' progress toward the reading standards for this lesson (see Assessment Overview and  Resources).
  • During Work Time B, observe students drawing and writing. Take notes about their inventive spelling and phonetic awareness to build foundational skills in upcoming K-2 Skills Block lessons. Note: Informative writing is taught in Unit 2.
  • During the Closing, students engage in the Pinky Partners protocol. Monitor students as they listen and respond to a classmate's idea. Prompt them to attend to the classroom discussion norms and provide question and sentence stems if necessary.


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Reviewing Learning Targets (10 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Close Read-aloud, Session 1: The Invisible Boy (25 minutes)

B. Independent Writing and Drawing: The Frayer Model (15 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Pinky Partners: Sharing Our Work (10 minutes)

Purpose of lesson and alignment to standards:

  • This lesson is the first in a series of six in which students engage in a close read-aloud of The Invisible Boy. This book provides another example of school to help students define and clarify the purpose of school. In this book, students learn that school helps us to appreciate other people's abilities and underscores the importance of treating others kindly. Additionally, students track the main character's change of emotions to better understand the impact of their words and actions on their classmates.
  • A close read-aloud is an instructional practice that gives beginning readers an opportunity to study a complex text with teacher support for the purpose of deep comprehension. A close read-aloud of a particular text occurs in a series of short sessions (approximately 20-25 minutes each) across multiple lessons. In the first session, students hear the entire text read aloud by the teacher, without interruption. In subsequent sessions, the teacher poses a focus question to set a purpose for deeper analysis and facilitates deeper comprehension by rereading excerpts of the text with this question in mind. In each session, the teacher lifts students' understanding of the text through purposeful text-dependent questions, interactive discussion, and other activities that support comprehension. In the final session, students synthesize their learning by answering the focus question through a culminating writing or speaking task.
  • Close read-alouds are meant to support a deep understanding of a worthy text, support students' mastery of the CCSS reading informational or literature standards, and engage students with discussion, movement, and dramatic expression. Monitor both students' understanding and their engagement; adjust the practice as necessary to support each.
  • For every close read-aloud, there is a Close Read-aloud Guide (see supporting materials). This material lays out the entire sequence of sessions. Before launching the first session with a given text, review the entire guide to have the big picture of the work students will do with that text across multiple lessons. Keep this guide in hand across the multiple lessons.
  • Close read-alouds are distinct from, and do not replace, more typical daily read-alouds. Daily read-alouds are essential so that students experience the volume of reading needed to build their world knowledge and vocabulary. See the K-5 Recommended Texts list for suggested texts (related to the module topic) to use in more typical read-alouds. This list also includes texts on the topic of schools for independent reading, which occurs during the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block. Ensure that students have a variety of informational and narrative texts below, on, and above grade level for this topic available during independent reading in the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block. These texts can be purchased; many of them can also be found in local libraries. To enhance this list, consider bringing in other texts you know of that relate to the module topic.
  • The pages of The Invisible Boy are not numbered. For instructional purposes, the page that begins with "Can you see Brian, the invisible boy?" should be considered page 2 and all pages thereafter numbered accordingly.
  • As part of the close read-aloud in Work Time A, students study the word invisible through the use of a Frayer Model. Since this word is important to understanding the story, students take the time to deeply study it using a graphic organizer. Although the learning target, I can define invisible and visible, is introduced in the opening, do not define the word during the Opening.
  • In the Closing, students participate in the Pinky Partners protocol. Consider how familiar students are with this protocol and reallocate class time to introduce and practice it if necessary.
  • Lessons 3-5 featured built-out instruction for Goal 1 Conversation Cues. Moving forward, this will appear only as reminders after select questions. Continue using Goal 1 Conversation Cues to promote productive and equitable conversation. Refer to the Lesson 3 Teaching Notes and see the Tools page for additional information on Conversation Cues.
  • Be sure to order six or seven additional copies of the text The Invisible Boy to keep in the classroom. Students are often excited to reread familiar books during choice time, and this would allow extra exposure to word recognition and picture details. Additionally, one extra copy will be used to cut out the illustrations to use for a class anchor chart in Lesson 8.

How this lesson builds on previous work:

  • The Invisible Boy gives students another opportunity to explore the module guiding question: "What is school, and why are schools important?"
  • Take note of how students are interacting with one another using the Speaking and Listening Checklist, specifically as it pertains to SL.2.1a (see Assessment Overview and Resources). Redirect students as needed using the Classroom Discussion Norms anchor chart. Although the skills for SL.2.1 are gradually taught through the entire module, take notes and assess students who already demonstrate mastery. Use protocols and discussions in the lesson as opportunities to gather evidence on each student for these standards.

Areas in which students may need additional support:

  • In Work Time A, the idea of being a "close reader" will be new to students. Assure them that questions will be answered as the book is revisited in each lesson.
  • In Work Time B, students fill in the remaining parts of the Frayer Model independently. Circulate to support them in brainstorming ideas for their work or encourage them to share ideas with a thinking partner. Point students to resources around the room (Word Walls and anchor charts) that may be useful to them in their writing.
  • In the Closing, some students may need additional support with the Pinky Partners protocol, since it is new. Support students' use of the classroom discussion norms by giving specific feedback on behaviors that demonstrate those norms and modeling for students who are on their way to mastering those skills.

Down the road:

  • Each close read-aloud in Lessons 8-11 will provide rich opportunities to see the change of emotions of the main character in The Invisible Boy. Preview the entire Close Read-aloud Guide (all sessions) to fully understand the arc of these lessons and to see how the learning and skills build from one to the next.
  • The foundational skills of speaking and listening are being developed in these Unit 1 lessons. Unit 2 will provide additional practice on SL.2.1a, as well as additional skills through SL.2.1b and SL.2.1c. All of the SL.2.1 substandards will be formally assessed in Unit 3.

In Advance

  • Set up a document camera to display The Invisible Boy and documents throughout the lesson (optional).
  • If a document camera is unavailable, consider copying the Frayer Models (Teacher models) onto large chart paper for the class to see.
  • Consider copying the Frayer Model for Invisible: Student Version and the Frayer Model for Visible: Student Version as double-sided copies for students.
  • Distribute pencils and the Frayer Models: Student Version at students' workspaces. Doing this in advance helps ensure a smooth transition during Work Time B.
  • Prepare:
    • The Invisible Boy word cards (see supporting materials).
    • Pinky Partners Protocol anchor chart (see supporting materials).
  • Review the Pinky Partners protocol. (Refer to the Classroom Protocols document for the full version of the protocol.)
  • Post: Learning targets, "Learning Target" poem, Classroom Discussion Norms anchor chart, Pinky Partners anchor chart.

Tech and Multimedia

Consider using an interactive whiteboard or document camera to display lesson materials.

  • Closing A: Recorded students participating in the Pinky Partners protocol to listen to later to discuss strengths and what they could improve on, or to use as models for the whole group. Most devices (cell phones, tablets, laptop computers) come equipped with free video and audio recording apps or software.

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards 2.I.A.1, 2.I.B.6, 2.I.B.8, and 2.I.C.10

Important points in the lesson itself

  • The basic design of this lesson supports ELLs with opportunities to read literature closely to determine the main idea and the meaning of the word invisible. This provides students with valuable experience reading and interpreting complex text, which will foster English language development by exposing them to academic vocabulary and syntax. ELLs will benefit from unpacking the meaning of invisible, as it will help them understand the central message of the text and familiarize them with important tools for interpreting English morphology.
  • ELLs may find it challenging to analyze and synthesize broader ideas within the text, as they may struggle to comprehend the text itself. Give students opportunities to ask questions about the meaning of the text. Invite them to use photographs to support their comprehension of the ideas within the text. Provide students with opportunities to use their bodies and gestures to act out parts of the text. Remind them that they will read the text for several days and reassure them that it is okay if they do not understand everything during the first reading.

Levels of support

For lighter support:

  • Before providing sentence frames or additional support during Work Time B, observe student interaction and allow them to grapple. Provide supportive frames and additional support only after students have grappled with the task.

For heavier support:

  • During Work Time B, distribute a copy of the Frayer Model with sentence frames in the "sentence" quadrant. This will provide students with models for the kind of writing expected and reduce the volume of writing required. (Example: "_______ is invisible." "The air around me is ________.")
  • During Work Time B, allow students to work in pairs to complete their Frayer Models.

Universal Design for Learning

  • Multiple Means of Representation (MMR): Before reading The Invisible Boy, students are invited to share story predictions. Consider guiding the information processing by scribing their ideas on a board or chart paper. As the story is read, encourage students to see if their prediction is correct.
  • Multiple Means of Action & Expression (MMAE): During the close reading, some students may benefit from sensory input and opportunities for movement while they are sitting. Provide options for differentiated seating, such as sitting on a gym ball, a move-and-sit cushion, or a chair with a resistive elastic band wrapped around the legs.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement (MME): This lesson introduces a new protocol (Pinky Partners) for class discussion. To support students in managing frustration that may arise during the protocol, generate coping strategies as a class when you preview the protocol.


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T); Vocabulary Used in Writing (W)


  • close read-aloud, support, visible, invisible, define (L)


  • "Learning Target" poem (from Lesson 1; one to display)
  • Close Read-aloud Guide: The Invisible Boy (Session 1; for teacher reference)
    • The Invisible Boy (one to display; for teacher read-aloud)
    • Speaking and Listening Checklist (for teacher reference; see Assessment Overview and Resources)
    • Reading Literature Checklist (RL.2.1, RL.2.3, RL.2.7)  (for teacher reference, See Assessment Overview and Resources)
  • Frayer Model for Invisible: Teacher Model (one to display)
  • Frayer Model for Invisible: Student Version (one per student)
  • Frayer Model for Invisible (example, for teacher reference)
  • Frayer Model for Visible: Teacher Model (one to display)
  • Frayer Model for Visible: Student Version (one per student)
  • Frayer Model for Visible (example, for teacher reference)
  • The Invisible Boy word cards (class set)
  • Classroom Discussion Norms anchor chart (begun in Lesson 3)
  • Pinky Partners Protocol anchor chart (new; teacher-created; see supporting materials)

Materials from Previous Lessons

New Materials


Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reviewing Learning Targets (10 minutes)

  • Gather students whole group.
  • Display the "Learning Target" poem and have students read it aloud with you.
  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read the first one aloud:

I can participate in a discussion to answer questions using details from The Invisible Boy to support my answers.

  • Tell students that a close read-aloud is when they practice rereading the text to look closely at the words and illustrations to better understand what the text is saying.
  • Reread the first learning target.
  • Circle the word support. Tell students that they will need to start working on including evidence from the text so that their answers can have help to be strong.
  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read the second one aloud:

"I can define the words invisible and visible."

  • Underline the word define and ask:

"What does it mean to define something?" (to explain the meaning of)

  • With excitement, tell students to get their wings on again because they are going to a new place! Invite them to spread their arms out like wings and pretend they are flying.
  • Display The Invisible Boy, read the title aloud, and tell students they have arrived at their new destination!
  • For ELLs: To ensure that the purpose of the learning targets is clear, prompt students with a Conversation Cue:

"Can you figure out why we are discussing so many things about one book?" (Responses will vary, but may include: to learn lots of words; to understand exactly what it means; to learn from the characters.)

  • For ELLs: Be aware that the content of the read-aloud deals with feelings of loneliness and isolation that may be familiar to students, especially if they are newcomers. Prepare students for this theme and encourage them to share any feelings the text may elicit. Create a safe space for students to express themselves without putting them on the spot if they choose not to.
  • Provide options for physical action and sensory input by differentiating seating. Some students might benefit from sitting on a gym ball, a move-and-sit cushion, or a chair with a resistive elastic band wrapped around the legs. (MMAE)

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Close Read-aloud, Session 1: The Invisible Boy (25 minutes)

  • Guide students through the close read-aloud for The Invisible Boy using the Close Read-aloud Guide: The Invisible Boy (session 1; for teacher reference). Consider using the Speaking and Listening Checklist and/or the Reading Literature Checklist (RL.2.1, RL.2.3, RL.2.7) during the close read-aloud (see Assessment Overview and Resources).
  • Refer to the guide for the use of:
    • Frayer Model for Invisible: Teacher Model
    • Frayer Model for Invisible: Student Version
    • Frayer Model for Invisible (example, for teacher reference)
    • Frayer Model for Visible: Teacher Model
    • Frayer Model for Visible: Student Version
    • Frayer Model for Visible (example, for teacher reference)
    • The Invisible Boy word cards
  • For ELLs: Pair students with a partner who has more advanced or native language proficiency. The partner with greater language proficiency in the pair can serve as a model during the read-aloud, initiating discussions and providing implicit sentence frames. (MMAE)
  • For ELLs: During the read-aloud, provide sentence frames for Think-Pair-Shares. (Example: "Brian felt invisible because _____.") (MMAE)
  • For ELLs: During the read-aloud, display the text on a document camera or display an enlarged copy of the text to help direct students to the appropriate sentences on each page. (MMR)
  • As students share their story predictions in pairs, circulate among them and listen. To support individual students to generate ideas, ask additional questions to focus thinking. (Example: "Let's look back at the cover. What do you think is in the boy's hand? What do you think the boy will do in the story?") (MMAE)
  • After students share their predictions, guide information processing by scribing their ideas on a board or chart paper. As you read, encourage students to see if their prediction is correct. (MMR)

B. Independent Writing and Drawing: The Frayer Model (15 minutes)

  • Refocus whole group.
  • Tell students that their own Frayer Model for Visible and Invisible: Student Version is already at their workspace.
  • Remind students how to transition back to their seats for independent work, as necessary.
  • Invite students to move back to their seats and begin working.
  • Circulate and support students as they work. If they seem stuck, invite them to turn and talk with an elbow partner about the sentence they will write using the words invisible and visible. Or draw a picture in the appropriate quadrant of the displayed Frayer Model to support students as necessary.
  • For ELLs: Buy or ask for large paint chips from a local hardware or paint store or print them online. Write the words visible, seen, noticeable, and evident, each on a different shade of the paint chip. Place them on the wall and discuss the shades of meaning in relation to The Invisible Boy. Create a similar paint chip for invisible synonyms.
  • As students begin independent writing, vary methods for fine motor response by offering options for drawing utensils (e.g., thick markers or colored pencils), writing tools (e.g., fine-tipped markers, pencil grips, slant boards), and scaffolds (e.g., shared writing, extended time). (MMAE)

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Pinky Partners: Sharing Our Work (10 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the Classroom Discussion Norms anchor chart. Invite them to follow along, reading silently in their heads, as you read the norms aloud.
  • Tell students they will now share their Frayer Models with a classmate using the Pinky Partners protocol.
  • Referring to the Pinky Partners Protocol anchor chart, explain the expectations:
    • Point to the image of the person standing with a pinky in the air. Explain that students will stand up with their Frayer Models in one hand and place the pinky of their other hand in the air.
    • Point to the image of two people linking pinkies. Explain that students will move calmly and quietly to link pinkies with a partner.
    • Point to the image of two people talking. Explain that one partner shares his or her Frayer Model while the other partner listens.
    • Point to the image of the people making a tent with their arms. Explain that once both partners have shared, they should safely make a tent with their arms to show that they are done talking and listening.
  • Remind students that they will need to use their discussion norms while talking to classmates. Answer clarifying questions.
  • Guide students through the Pinky Partners protocol, using the steps on the Pinky Partners anchor chart.
  • Repeat this process until there are 2 minutes left.
  • Invite two or three students to share an interesting sentence they heard from a partner for the words invisible and visible.
  • Tell students that tomorrow, they will begin using their knowledge about these words to continue closely reading The Invisible Boy.
  • Collect students' Frayer Models to determine their understanding of the meaning of these words. Note any students who may need additional support in Lesson 7.
  • For ELLs: Beginning students may have trouble verbalizing their work. Help them identify key elements of their Frayer Models and allow them to repeat words and phrases. Example: If a student wrote or drew the sun as an example of something visible, point to the drawing and say, "The sun is visible!" Encourage the student to repeat the key words in the sentence. (MMAE)
  • For students who may need additional support managing frustration or confusion during the Pinky Partners protocol, generate strategies as a class to mitigate these feelings. Examples:
    • "What can I do if the friend I wanted to talk to already has a partner?"
    • "What should I do if I don't have a partner?"
    • "How will I know if someone else doesn't have a partner?" (MME)

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