Teaching Strategy


Close and Critical Reading
Grade Level


Generating Interactions between Schemata and Texts (GIST) is a summarization procedure that helps students digest complex texts by requiring contextual word learning. GIST explicitly combines the most important words with reading and writing to comprehend complex texts.


Before, during and after reading


The skills required for GIST are the core of reading for understanding. This strategy provides all students with the opportunity to deeply understand and gain access to rigorous and complex texts.


  1. Select a central text.
  2. Highlight a passage that either explains an important concept, including difficult vocabulary, or promotes discussion about a central topic or theme. These might include social justice, social action, racial or cultural discrimination, or linguistic diversity. Do not consider reading level when selecting the passage.
  3. Project a copy of the text in a visible location.
  4. Read the text aloud and then direct students to read a section aloud using choral reading.
  5. Revisit your targeted vocabulary words you selected during Word Work.
  6. Ask students what words or concepts they consider most important to understanding the text. Highlight both the vocabulary words you selected and the words the students choose. Add them to the GIST Worksheet.
  7. As a group, fill out the “5Ws and H” (who, what, where, when, why and how) in the GIST organizer worksheet template.
  8. Check for student understanding of key vocabulary using the context of the central text.
  9. Have students think aloud and write a one-sentence summary of the text using as many of the listed vocabulary words and concepts as possible.
  10. Repeat the process through subsequent sections of the text.
  11. Create a topic sentence to precede the summary sentences; students can edit the end result into a summary paragraph.

English language learners

The GIST strategy is effective because it encourages the use of simple answers (who, what, where, when, why and how) to craft a more detailed answer. By working with smaller chunks of information at a time, English language learners are better able to process the information and ultimately arrive at a more detailed summary. Collaborating and partnering throughout the task also benefits English language learners. Whether an English language learner completes the larger summary sentence or not, by engaging in GIST he will definitely be able to answer some of the 5Ws and H questions.

Connection to anti-bias education

The GIST strategy is effective for building an inclusive classroom. It allows all students to approach a complex text on equal footing because classmates help each other access difficult vocabulary and develop summarizing skills. The structure of the strategy allows all students the opportunity to be successful regardless of vocabulary limitations.

For more information on the GIST strategy, click here.

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