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Free Differentiated Get the Gist Graphic Organizers

No matter which reading assessment we use, we always ask our students this question–“What happened in the story?” It’s such an easy question to ask, but not easy for our students to answer. Therefore, we need some gist graphic organizers to help our students find the gist of a text. There is no doubt that getting the gist is the most important reading skill to improve comprehension.

Use the 3 free and differentiated gist graphic organizers below repeatedly with different texts of books (fiction or non-fiction).

gist graphic organizer pin

You can get the free gist graphic organizers by clicking the image above or here.

Gist Graphic Organizer: Fiction/Nonfiction With Low Text Complexity

This gist graphic organizer is good for short texts with lower text complexity. After reading, it asks students to close their eyes and think about “What just happened in the story?” or “What is the text mainly about?”

Next, students can draw a picture of it in the space provided. After that, they will answer a question and write down the gist (about 20 words).

Remember, the purpose of this gist graphic organizer is to get the gist of a text. So make sure your students know that the drawing doesn’t have to be perfect. A simple pencil sketch also works.

Students who love or are good at drawing will love this gist graphic organizer as they get to use their strength to improve reading comprehension.

The picture shows an example of using this gist graphic organizer after reading the text below:

We live on a watery planet. Almost 70 percent of Earth’s surface is covered with water. This surface water is found in oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, even in puddles and the morning dew. There is so much water that if you looked down at Earth from space, it would appear blue. 

gist graphic organizer drawing
Use Drawing to Help Get the Gist

Fiction/Nonfiction With Intermediate Text Complexity

Use 3W to Get the Gist
Use 3W to Get the Gist

This gist graphic organizer asks students to find the “who”, “did what”, and “why” in a story.

You can use this gist graphic organizer repeatedly with almost any fiction or nonfiction text.

For example, in the famous fable The Tortoise and the Hare, the “who” is “the Tortoise and the Hare”; the “did what” is “raced and the Tortoise won the race”; the “why” is “because the Hare took a nap.”

Finally, students need to connect all three parts to get the gist of the text. In this example, the gist will be “The Tortoise and the Hare raced, and the Tortoise won the race because the Hare took a nap.”

Click here to check out a free gist PPT/Google Slides lesson.

Fiction/Nonfiction With High Text Complexity

This gist graphic organizer is similar to the one above but asks students to find more information. Therefore, it works better with more complex text, whether fiction or nonfiction.

Students need to identify more information and then connect them to form a gist of a text, so they need better close reading and summarizing skills. Therefore, for differentiation purposes, you may give your top group this worksheet, and your mid group the 3W gist worksheet mentioned above.

This picture shows an example of using this graphic organizer. Please note that students may not be able to find all 5W and 1H in every text, and they also don’t need to include every part in the final gist. They can choose the important parts to include, so the gist won’t be too long.

Use 5W and 1H to Get the Gist
Use 5W and 1H to Get the Gist

You can find these gist graphic organizers by clicking here or the picture below.

free gist graphic organizers

gist bundle