CSR (02) - Get the Gist

Learning Strategy

Learning Log (when using as part of the Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) strategy)

Target Student

All students can benefit from this learning strategy.


Get the Gist is one fourth of Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR), a learning strategy shown to improve students’ reading comprehension when all four parts of CSR are used by students. The role of Get the Gist within CSR is to aid students in identifying the main ideas as they read. This increases the likelihood that they will understand what they are reading.

According to extensive research on CSR, Get the Gist must be implemented as part of the CSR strategy if positive effects are to be achieved.


Use explicit instruction (explanation, modeling, guided practice, independent practice) when teaching CSR to students.

Using Explicit Instruction to Teach CSR: Get the Gist
1. Explain the strategy. Using a poster showing where Get the Gist fits into CSR and another poster of steps for Get the Gist, explain both posters and explain the benefit students will experience from using Get the Gist and from CSR after they have learned all of it.

2. Model the strategy. Next, use modeling. Use a think aloud strategy, and voice aloud the thought process behind each step. This may need to occur over the course of several days based on the needs of the students.

3. Guided practice. Guide students in performing the strategy in small groups or in pairs. During this time, scaffold the learning and support students who need assistance in using the strategy. They can also model the think aloud strategy (when in pairs) to strengthen comprehension and learning of the steps involved

4. Independent practice. After guided practice, students should only use the strategy independently, once they have shown they have mastered the strategy. Students can also be given the opportunity to reflect on the strategy.

How To

How to Use the Get the Gist Strategy

• Identify whether the paragraph is mostly about a person, place, or thing.

• Identify which person, place, or thing is discussed in the paragraph.

• Identify what is being said about the person, place, or thing that the paragraph is primarily about. For example, students can identify the basic argument or perspective in the section regarding the topic.

Restate the essence of the paragraph in a short sentence (ten words or fewer).

(Adapted from the IRIS Center, 2016)


The following research is for CSR as a whole, not the Get the Gist strategy used in isolation.

Bremer, C. D., Vaughn, S., Clapper, A. T., & Kim, A. (2002). Collaborative strategic reading (CSR): Improving secondary students’ reading comprehension skills. Improving Secondary Education and Transition Services through Research, 1(2), 1–7.

Dimino, J. A., Simon, E., & Vaughn, S. (2007). Collaborative strategic reading (CSR): Improving reading comprehension skills. National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) Conference Call Presentation, September 17, 2002.

Education Development Center. (2007). Reading: Reading expository text. Retrieved March 4, 2008, from http://www.literacymatters.org/content/readandwrite/expos.htm

The IRIS Center. (2008). CSR: A reading comprehension strategy. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/csr/

Klingner, J. K., Vaughn, S., & Schumm, J. S. (1998). Collaborative strategic reading during social studies in heterogeneous fourth-grade classrooms. The Elementary School, Journal 99(1), 3–22.

Klingner, J. K., Vaughn, S., Dimino, J., Schumm, J. S., & Bryant, D. (2001). Collaborative strategic reading: Strategies for improving comprehension. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Neufeld, P. (2005). Comprehension instruction in content area classes. The Reading Teacher, 59(4), 302–312.

Palmer, G., Peters, R., & Streetman, R. (2003). Cooperative learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved March 5, 2008, from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Cooperative_Learning&printable=yes

RAND Reading Study Group. (2002). Reading for understanding: Toward an R&D program in reading comprehension. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. Retrieved July 12, 2007, from http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1465/MR1465.pdf

Snowball, D. (2005). Teaching comprehension (CD-ROMs levels K-2, 3-6, 6-9). Port, NY: A.U.S.S.I.E.

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. (2001). Collaborative strategic reading. Retrieved June 25, 2007, from http://www.sedl.org/cgi-bin/mysql/buildingreading.cgi?l=description&showrecord=15

Vaughn, S., & Klingner, J. K. (1999). Teaching reading comprehension through collaborative strategic reading. Intervention in School and Clinic, 34(5), 284–292.

Vaughn, S., Klingner, J. K., & Bryant, D. (2001). Collaborative strategic reading as a means to enhance peer-mediated instruction for reading comprehension and content-area learning. Remedial and Special Education, 22(2), 66–74.

Wilhelm, J. D. (2003). Navigating meaning: Using think-alouds to help readers monitor comprehension. Retrieved March 5, 2008, from http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/495

Research Summary

What Works Clearinghouse

Related Resources

IRIS Center module

Related Websites

Collaborative Strategic Reading Guides, Videos, & Instructional Materials

CSR Toolkit

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