Use a journal to help yourself remember
what you learn…
Maybe you read a book or watched a documentary or listened to lesson in class.
Taking notes can help you record information as you are reading or listening,
but a journal entry helps you turn those facts into a narrative you’ll more easily remember.
1. Start with a question:
How did the universe develop?
What are the basic components of a democracy?
How did Canada become a country?
How is the Dewey Decimal System organized?
How do wind, water, and ice change the surface of our planet?
How did Einstein change our understanding of gravity?
What is the life cycle of a salmon?
What are the common features of domesticated animals?
How does a story you’ve read relate to your own life?
How does a novel you’ve read relate to historical or current events in the world?
2. Answer the question as if you are telling a story.
Pretend you are talking to someone who has asked you the question and knows nothing about the topic. Explain the answer in simple terms using a logical sequence of sentences. Try to include reasons why the information is useful to know and can change your reader’s view of the world.
3. Add coloured illustrations.
Pictures and diagrams can help explain your answers and make your journal more interesting to read. It will also help you better understand the information.
4. Finish with more questions.
What are some unanswered questions you have that relate to your initial question?
What would you like to know next?
Note to teachers: You might like to post a large piece of chart paper in your classroom. After a lesson or class discussion, let your students help you decide on a question that would summarize the material learned. Write it on the chart paper. All during a term, keep adding to the list. Encourage students to write their answers in a journal or “General Knowledge” notebook. Let them use those journals or notebooks on open book tests. Or assign – every two weeks – an essay response that must be completed in class: allow students to choose a question from the chart and answer it in paragraph form; mark their work for both writing skills and information; give additional credit for essays that explain the importance of the topic. This process can help students move from a ‘memorizing for a test’ approach to school to ‘learning to become educated for life’.