Skip Navigation

GIST Summaries

Life Skills:

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Communication

Curriculum Tie:

Time Frame:
1 class period that runs 45 minutes.

Group Size:
Small Groups


GIST is a strategy to help students write brief, accurate, and complete summaries of material they read. Students work together summarizing larger and larger portions of text, but keeping their summaries at 25 words or fewer.

Main Curriculum Tie:
English Language Arts Grade 9-10Reading: Informational Text Standard 2
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

You will need a relatively brief magazine/newspaper article. This will also work with portions of a textbook. This technique tends to work best with informational text, but can be adapted for fiction.

Background For Teachers:
As long as the teacher is familiar with the process, no background information is necessary.

Student Prior Knowledge:
Reading comprehension.

Intended Learning Outcomes:
Students will be able to summarize portions of informational or literary text. Students will be able to work in small groups to think critically about and discuss text.

Instructional Procedures:

  1. Form groups of 3-4.
  2. Distribute a copy of the text to each group.
  3. In groups, students read the 1st paragraph, and write a summary in 25 words or fewer.
  4. Students then read the 2nd paragraph, and revise the first summary to create a 25-word summary of the first TWO paragraphs.
  5. Groups then read the 3rd paragraph, and revise the summary to create a 25-word summary of the first THREE paragraphs.
  6. Continue in this manner until the group has a 25-word summary of the entire article.

Strategies For Diverse Learners:
This lesson is fairly simple to differentiate. For students who have a more difficult time with reading, a text with a lower level of text complexity can be used. For the gifted student, a more challenging text can be chosen.

Assessment Plan:
This is most easily assessed informally. Have each group read aloud their final summary. The teacher checks to ensure that each group has the basic understanding of the text. A participation score is the most reasonable assessment for this activity.

Allen, Janet. Tools for Teaching Content Literacy. Portland: Stenhouse Publishers, 2004. 30. Print.


Created Date :
Oct 24 2012 14:09 PM