Most of our students see themselves as productive; they complete all or most of their work, both in-class assignments and homework.
We look at two measures to try to track how many of our students are working hard at and being effective in their learning. One is the percent of students earning honors in at least one of their classes each term. Over the past six years, that number has increased from 45% of our students to 68%.
We also look at the percent of students earning HOWL of Fame, our effort honor roll. Over the past five years, that number has gone from 25% to as high as 44%.
When announcing honors and HOWL of Fame at the end of each term, our Principal repeats every time that these numbers could keep growing until every one of our students earns at least 1 honors and gets recognized for outstanding effort.
Students learn additional skills and habits that help to make them effective learners. At Four Rivers, students begin learning about HOWLs (Habits of Work and Learning) in middle school. In 7th grade, their first year at Four Rivers, they are introduced to our school-wide learning targets. They also begin to learn how to reflect on their academic work . Our 7th graders begin to think about their learning in terms of qualities and attributes, not simply as a list of graded assignments to complete. By going through the process of linking the things they do in class to authentic work and skills done in the word beyond the classroom, they begin to see themselves as investigators, thinkers, budding experts. They also learn to revise and to see their work as a progression of drafts toward more complete understanding and higher quality.
In the 8th grade, teachers build on the work done by their colleagues in 7th grade and focus explicitly on habits of work and learning (HOWLs). Students do regular reflection on their HOWLs.
Our graduates come back every year for an alumni breakfast, and share their reflections on how their Four Rivers experience has helped to shape them as learners, citizens and as people. Here is an example of a student who came to value perseverance when he saw how it paid off down the road.