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Summarizing/GIST activity



My students are having a hard time with summarizing. They want to include a lot of details. I have heard of a summarizing strategy called GIST, but I'm not sure I remember how to do it. Has anyone heard of or used this comprehension strategy?

Thanks in advance.



I just learned about "Get the Gist" at a conference. After reading something nonfiction, childred are asked to write a list of 10 words they would need to tell about the subject. They could work in pairs or sm. groups. After they finish with their list, they join with another pair or group and have to decide on the new list of ten. Ultimately they use that list to write a summary. I think lessons on concensus and coming to an agreement would have to be done before "getting the gist" I hope this helps. Another quieter activity was "Chalk Talk" After a topic is given to the class, the students can write what they know about it on the board in silence (the chalk does the talking--or in my case, the dry erase markers--we did "Board Talk") As students think of facts they want to add, they raise their hands and the students give the next their marker. Once everyone gets picked, the can "have Seconds" I tried it last week about what you find on a World Map. It was great! It really tell you what they know and what gaps you have in your class.


Junior Member

Try using a plot relationship chart for narratives.
The chart is designed with these headings: Who, Wanted, But, So, Then. The students complete the chart and create a summary from the information on their chart. The beauty of it is they start with a template on a sheet of paper but they advance to being able to recreate the chart themselves and then transfer the knowledge in the upper grades. For an introduction I used an icon of a telephone and a banner that read South Western Bell Sells Telephones with the capital letters underlined. It helps them to remember the headings for the chart. Explain that the Who used to be Someone but it was edited to Who later. Whether they say someone or who really doesn't matter. It just keeps the order fresh in their memories. They will love this.


Senior Member

We read a chapter in Stone Fox. Then I drew 20 lines on the white board, and told them what a GIST is... they could only use 20 words to tell about that section of the book. My third graders LOVE it! Now, they do it all the time (sometimes without me even asking!) It really makes them concentrate on the nuts and bolts of the section.

I will also sometimes write the 20 words we come up with on notecards and then mix them up and have kids put back into order. My lower level readers love this..

Another strategy:
(write on chart)
Who __________
Wanted to ________
But ________
So _________
Then have them fill in.. this works so well for my middle readers... it makes them make connections and put there words together as good as the top readers... Doesn't work so well for low level readers.