In the first post in this series, I discussed the idea of having jiu jitsu students compare and contrast knowledge learned in class using Marzano's "Identify Similarities and Differences" educational strategy. In this post, I'll discuss Marzano's second strategy - Summarizing and Note-Taking.
This idea is one of the few that's actually fairly well-known within the jiu jitsu community. In fact, there are a lot of "Jiu Jitsu Journals" on the market (like this one) that are specifically formatted for this very purpose.
Journaling works like this. You go to class and bring your notebook. As the coach is discussing whatever you're learning that day, you write it down. Maybe include the date, who was teaching, and other information that'll help you organize the material.
That's it. That's all there is to it. Over time, you end up with a record of each technique you covered. Given we forget a large percentage of the knowledge we learn in class, this gives you a permanent record of what you've learned, which can be reviewed in the future.
I kept fairly detailed notebooks all the way through blue belt, and those notebooks have been an invaluable resource as I advanced through the ranks. Not only does it remind me of techniques and concepts I had forgotten, but it also reminded me of details I would miss when actually trying techniques live.
How to Make Note-Taking and Journaling More Effective
You can make this exercise far more effective by taking a few simple steps, including:
- Actively make decisions on what details are important and which ones are unimportant. Critically thinking of what you should include is one of the best ways to deeply process new information, which takes your learning to new heights.
- Write it in your own words. This is another deep processing strategy. Putting something into your own words forces you to consider what you are really learning.
- Use diagrams and doodles. Yet another deep processing strategy. It doesn't matter if your artistic skills are garbage; these diagrams and doodles are for YOU, not others. They're not going to be hanging in the Guggenheim.
- Compare and contrast to other semi-related concepts or techniques. This idea borrows from the first concept. Compare what you're learning now to something related you've learned in the past.
- Add questions you may have about this information. Asking questions is another excellent deep-processing hack. Ask questions about the HOW, WHY, WHEN, WHERE, etc. for anything and everything you learn. Personally, as an instructor, I LOVE when m students ask questions. It gives me a change to clarify and indicates they're actively engaging with the material. It's no surprise the students who ask the most questions tend to advance in jiu jitsu the fastest.
- Add additional information. In my notes, I included the date, where I was training, who was teaching the class, who I was paired with for drilling (usually Shelly), who I rolled with and what the outcomes were, whether or not I was able to execute whatever we learned while live rolling, any injuries I may have sustained and what I was doing when they happened, and so on.
For instructors, you can also keep a "teaching journal", which I just started. It's the same idea, only I talk about what we covered in class. I include information like who was in class, what activities we did, and how it went. What things went well? What things sucked? What methods did I use for formative assessment, and how successful was it? What questions did students ask and how did I answer? I'll use this information in the future to systematically improve my own teaching.
Give it a shot! Leave a comment and let us know how it went.