One of the first skills students need to learn in the 21st century classroom is the skill of researching and summarizing.

In my experience most students in grade 4/5 lack experiences with non fiction texts and are often unsure of the difference between summarizing and retelling.

When teaching how to summarize I use the gist strategy.

We talk about how the GIST of a text is the main idea. This skill is explicitly taught. I teach students to skim and scan the text and find the GIST for each section of the text.

Teaching this can be broken down into steps.

When you look at certain parts of the text you use the non fiction text features to help you. The title, subtitle, headings, captions, introduction and conclusion sentences all five you an idea about what the GIST of the article is.

To summarize I challenge my student to use 10 words or less to tell me what the article is about.

From there we look for key words in the text that support the GIST and make a list of these key words.

Once your key words are made students can then use the key words to write sentences that summarize the article.

To get your students skimming and scanning as a first step to write a summary.

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