Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning


Keiana Cross, Jared Whaley | Published: October 10th, 2023 by K20 Center


Cover Image


Students summarize the main idea, or the “gist,” of content in a clear and concise manner. As students engage with content, they consider the who, what, when, where, why, and how of class content. They write a gist statement summarizing the content in 28 words or fewer.



After students complete a lesson, read a text, or watch a video, they compose a summary to identify the essential components: who, what, when, where, why, and how, as well as any other noteworthy details. The ability to summarize involves higher-order thinking, including the analysis of information and the identification of crucial concepts. This strategy can also be used to synthesize ideas from multiple sources.


  1. Provide students with content. This can be a lesson, a unit, a reading, or a video.

  2. As students engage with the content, have them think about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of that content.

  3. Students write a summary using 28 words or fewer. (e.g., A 1920s New York tale featuring parties, love, and the American Dream. This tragic tale follows Nick Caraway and his chronicle of the millionaire Gatsby's fascination with Daisy.)

  4. (Optional) If needed, provide students with a copy of the attached Gist template.

The GIST strategy - American University. (n.d.).