Teaching Get the Gist

Hi Everyone!

Last week I began discussing the Get the Gist summary strategy.  In this week’s post, I will provide an overview about how to teach the strategy. 

Before teaching any new strategy, we should always explain to our students how it benefits them.  Get the Gist develops students’ comprehension by helping them determine the most important information from readings.  By creating summary sentences, it also allows students to better understand and remember what they read.   

Our goal with Get the Gist is to create a roughly ten words per paragraph summary sentence.  The sentence should reflect the author’s main point(s) and be written in our student’s own words.

I use the RAP acronym which stands for:

R = Read a passage by paragraphs

A = Ask questions:

  • Who or what is this mostly about?
  • What does the author think/feel/believe about the subject?  What is the point?                   

P = Paraphrase (put in a student’s own words) a ten-word summary sentence


We can start teaching Get the Gist with a picture or video.  This provides an easy way for students to learn the strategy before engaging with text.  I like to use the following chart as I model using the strategy:

Get the Gist Chart


After modeling with a visual, we can use a reading passage at a grade level equivalent all students in the class can comfortably read.  To find who or what the reading is mostly about, I like to teach students to circle repeated words or ideas.  Once we have these key words, we can discuss what the author thinks/feels/believes about the topic.  We then create the ten-word summary sentence. 

I stress that the summary sentence needs to be in a students’ own words and not just repeat what the author says.  I like to show several iterations of the sentence so students see that creating the sentence is a process.  I also stress that more than one summary sentence could reflect what the author thinks/feels/believes about the subject.  Students can then practice the strategy with a partner and finally by themselves. 

Students should use Get the Gist multiple times over several class periods. As students’ practice, they should read passages at their instructional levels (one level above their mastery level as determined by a comprehension diagnostic test).             

Video and Script

To get more information about teaching Get the Gist:

  • There is a teaching script available for Get the Gist which you can find HERE
  • Click HERE to find a video of Steve teaching the strategy


Have you taught Get the Gist?  What would you add to the above description? 


Thanks so much for your comments!

Have a wonderful day,

Steve Schmidt

LINCS Reading and Writing CoP Moderator