Reading strategies are now the current educational tool being used widely by teachers. They run the gamut from using sticky notes, to underlining, to using graphic organizers to strategies like GIST. What is GIST, when should it be used, and how is it used?
GIST is an acronym for Generating Interaction Between Schemata and Text. Schemata is defined as a plan or purpose. So we might say we are trying to figure out the plan or purpose for what the author has written.This is just a fancy way for saying that we want students to use the GIST strategy in order to learn to connect what they already know, with a logical prediction about the outcome of a story, or the purpose of a reading selection.
The GIST is used throughout the reading assignment and can be used with both fiction and academic textbooks. Some strategies are singled out to be used just before reading, some throughout and others after. The original GIST or prediction worksheet is completed before reading. Then as the student reads the selection, they check back with the GIST they have completed to see if they are on track. After reading, they can make revisions to the GIST. Perhaps they were pretty close to the outcome. Maybe they need to totally rewrite the GIST.
First of all, make sure you students have GIST sheet to use to help them write down their information. This can be in the form of a teacher generated form, using all the essential GIST information, or a GIST template found on the internet or in a teacher’s manual. A GIST template or form should have the following basic information: Your prediction, the 5 W’s ( Who, where, when , why what), and a final prediction. One of the unique things about a GIST is that , the students’ are trying to list their guesses on a preset number of spaces. I have seen GIST sheets with just 10 or 20 word spaces, but I usually give a 30 space so they can include all the information they need.
It is always important to model who the GIST works. The first couple of times I go through it with the students. Their most difficult portion is trying to condense what they say into a few words. First, I teach them how to preread an article for basic information gathered from the heading, pictures, sub headings and charts in the text. Using this information and what they already know, they create the pre reading GIST or summary of their prediction. Next, we refer to the GIST template throughout the reading to record the 5 w’e. Last, we put together or knowledge prior to reading and what we actually read to come up with a final GIST or summary. Often times, the pre reading GIST is pretty close to the post reading GIST.
This strategy is especially useful when trying to teach main idea and supporting details. If you use the GIST with your students, you will find in no time that their ability to comprehend text and find the main idea increases.