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GIST: Teaching Summarizing Skills in a Strategic Way


When you ask students to summarize, has this ever happened?  1) Some students copy verbatim the first and or last sentence.  2) Students write summaries that are actually longer than the original text!  3)  Students create summaries and leave out some of the main ideas.

If you have had any of these experiences, it may be time to use GIST to teach summarizing.  Here is how it works.

Students read a passage and highlight or determine the 7 most important words or concepts in the passage. (The teacher will provide a specific number of words from 5-10, but it is important NOT to go over 1o.)  Students then pair to share their lists and come to consensus on the top 7 ( or number indicated by the teacher) words. During this time, students will have to justify, explain, and evaluate the text in order to come to consensus. Once consensus is reached, the students then write a 1-2 sentence summary of their reading, incorporating as many of their important words as possible.

This is a great strategy to use as an adult.  I have used it with my professional reading, and every time I have modeled this in a professional development with teachers, they are amazed by how succinct and clear their summaries become.  It is an easy strategy that can be implemented seamlessly into instruction.
Click here to learn more about GIST and print handouts.

About Heather Mullins

Dr. Heather Mullins is the Chief Academic Officer in Newton-Conover City Schools. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who spent 12 years as a high school English Teacher. She received her B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Western Carolina University. Heather completed her National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts in 2002. She holds an M.Ed. in Academically and Intellectually Gifted from UNC-Charlotte. She completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership through Western Carolina University. Her dissertation focused on improving principal practice through strategic professional development. Heather has served as a Curriculum Specialist in Hickory City Schools, an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and a Professional Development Consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Heather is one of the co-founders of #NCed Chat, North Carolina’s first Twitter chat for teachers. She is passionate about innovative practices, instructional technology, student ownership of learning, and supporting teachers. Heather serves on the advisory board for the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina School for the Deaf and Catawba Science Center. She is a recipient of the 2015 NCMLE Central Office Administrator to Watch Award. She also received the 2016 Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership. Heather is the proud mother of one son, Jackson.

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