I love using the GIST with students because we can take all kinds of information and condense it rather quickly. Also, we can take reading materials that are difficult and work to create understanding as a group.
I recently used this strategy with a group of juniors who are moving into an immigration unit where we'll study Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier as our primary text. This text is going to challenge a lot of the readers in my classroom because it is a more adult read than some are sued to. Also, the setting of the text is totally unfamiliar to this audience. Most of my students had no idea where Sierra Leone is located. Knowing that I needed to create a basic understanding of the issues and conflicts that are taking place in Sierra Leone before we read, I used the GIST to discuss a variety of issues with students.
This activity took most of one class, bit has proven to be a valuable tool in creating a large pool of knowledge about the issues facing Sierra Leone right now. All of our news sources are current and we discussed a variety of issues, from rape to agriculture, all within the space of an hour and a half of class time. There is no way that my students would have been able to enter this text without knowing anything about Sierra Leone.
Here's a link to my classroom blog post about the use of this strategy in connection with this text.