Academic Ninjitsu - An Open Source College Readiness Curriculum

Academic Ninjitsu is a taxonomy that scaffolds the way to an independent and rigorous learner. The repetitive cycle facilitates the practice of real world rigorous academic skills through content neutral activities with comprehensive guides and consistent outlines containing a work rationale, expectation-specific rubric, general guidelines, and examples. This provides enough structure to assign and grade previously vague activities like "notes" and "study cards."

Each item on the menu is one of nine steps in the learning process taxonomy. The system works best if you require students to turn in one finished activity from each step on a predictable schedule. Activities are worth various amounts of points relative to the amount of work they will take and the understanding or practice they will produce. It is recommended that you use a flexible grading system.

Preview activities are designed to give students a chance to gain familiarity with the information they are about to learn. Controlled studies have shown that students that preview what they will learn are more likely to pay attention, feel a sense of purpose, and remember what they learn. Surveys show that the best college students generally preview texts before they set out to learn something.

Activities throughout delivery are typically referred to as notes. However, there are many types of note taking strategies. Notes are the most basic study tool in post-secondary education. Controlled studies have shown that writing information increases the probability of recall. Surveys show that the best college students all take notes and use them as a study tool.

Comprehension activities are designed to force students to think about information. They hold students accountable for being able to rephrase and reorganize the information they are committing to memory. It is universally acknowledged that comprehension is a necessary step to new ways of understanding and creating.

Skills Development
Skills Development activities allow students to use information to practice their core skills, particularly writing. Studies in education show that a surprising number of college freshmen are unable to write effectively, so much so that it is the general complaint of college professors teaching lower-level courses. It is my obligation to reinforce learning in the language arts by requiring a language development activity.

Enrichment activities allow students to get similar information from a different perspective and a new media. It allows students to compare the new presentation form to both the information and the presentation of the original. College courses are usually designed around primary texts and a lecture series but there are almost always other texts, articles, documentaries or other enrichment materials.

Analysis activities allow students to break apart information into its various components and see how those components relate to the broader whole. It is universally acknowledged that analysis is a necessary step to new ways of understanding and creating.

Synthesis activities allow students to use information in new and creative ways. Controlled research shows that when students use information for a creative project of their own retention increases to nearly 100%. Surveys show that motivation increases if students feel a sense of ownership over their work and if they feel that their work has an effect on other students.

Self-Assessment activities allow students to identify what they know comfortably and what still needs to be learned. Surveys show that the best college students have and use strategies to identify what they know so they can target study time on what remains to be learned.

Evaluation activities allow students to assign personal meaning to the information they have already learned. Educational research is flooded with talk about assuring that students don’t just learn and memorize but internalize and truly understand not only what the information means to themselves and the world, but also what they can do with that information. Evaluation is an opportunity to assign such a meaning.

Review and Cram
Portfolio Management