Get the Gist (Main Idea) Toolkit

NOTE: If you participated in the MSM-PREP research study and are looking for the toolkit used during your participation, please email so you can obtain the private link.


About the Practice

GET THE GIST is a reading comprehension practice to help students identify and write brief main idea statements about sections of text.

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Students are taught to stop at predetermined points while reading and use a 3-step process to write their gist (main idea):

Step 1) “Who” or “what” is this section about?

Step 2) What is the most important information about the “who” or “what?”

Step 3) Write a gist (main idea) statement that combines the information from steps 1 and 2. (The gist should be in the students’ own words, rather than a sentence copied from the text.)

Teaching students to Get the Gist is important for several reasons:

**It encourages students to monitor their comprehension while reading.

**It helps students integrate important information across sections of text.

**It helps students remember the most important information when they read.

Professional Development Resources

PD Video using English/Language Arts Content (Middle School Matters)

PD Video using Social Studies Content (Middle School Matters)

PD Module: Identifying Main Idea Using “Get the Gist” Strategy (IRIS Center)

Research to Practice Article in Teaching Exceptional Children (Middle School Matters)


Demonstration Videos

Get the Gist Routine in Grades 6, 7, and 8 (Texas Adolescent Literacy Academy)


Instructional Materials

Lesson Plan: Get the Gist – A Summarizing Strategy for Any Content Area (ReadWriteThink)

Get the Gist Log for Students (Middle School Matters)

Get the Gist Cue Card for Students (Middle School Matters)

Gist to Summary Log for Students, Electronic Version (Middle School Matters)

Gist to Summary Log for Students, Printable Version (Middle School Matters)


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