Fridays at Seven Hills are dedicated to interdisciplinary, hands-on learning. Most Fridays that means starting the day with Team Teaching and ending it with Exploratories. Once a month our Experiential Fridays become River Days where we spend the entire day learning on the James River.

Exploratories

As an essential part of our Experiential Fridays, we give our students the opportunity to explore their diverse interests through specialized, small-group classes. It’s up to the student to decide if he wants to write his own zombie apocolypse screenplay, plant heirloom tomatoes in the Phoenix Garden, or run stock market simulations. Every year we offer upwards of 40 Exploratories. In recent years, these have included:

How Humor Works

We’ll look at humor in a variety of different mediums, and discuss what elements, strategies, and principles are commonly used to make us laugh. Students will put these methods to good use by producing a final funny project. A joke book, top ten list, parody, script, or short story are just some of the possibilities.

3D Printing

Bring your ideas into a dimension! Students will experiment with Tinkercad, a web-based 3D modeling app, to create their own 3D objects. After learning how the printer works and how to safely operate it, students will then be tasked with designing and printing three objects: a to-scale model of a larger object, a practical and useful object, and a free choice object.

History of Anime and Manga

Japanese comics and animation are popular all over the world; find out why that is in this exploratory. We’ll look at the influences and origins of these art forms, including traditional Japanese arts like puppet theater, we’ll talk about luminaries of the industry like Moto Hagio and Osamu Tezuka, and we’ll explore trends, themes, and messages present in these works.

Do You Know What it Means (to miss New Orleans)?

We’ll take a linguistic, culinary, musical, and architectural peek at what makes New Orleans tick. What does the Holy Trinity mean on the Gulf Coast? Why do they eat cakes with toy babies in them? What’s a second line, and where can I find one? Amaze your friends by correctly pronouncing “Tchoupitoulas,” “Lagniappe,” and by knowing what the expression “Where Y’at?” really means. We’ll also examine the myriad environmental challenges the Crescent City faces as the Gulf Coast confronts the impacts of climate change.

Fire Building

We will explore the power of fire, and how humans learned to control it, and then move on to different ways of making and tending to a small fire. Techniques will include flint and steel, friction, as well as a few firestarter tricks.

Filmmaking

Work as a crew to create a short film. All the equipment, technology, and special effects that we can handle will be included as students write, direct, shoot, perform, and edit their film.

Boys 3D printing

Team Teaching

Team Teaching is where our signature hands-on, experiential approach is combined with interdisciplinary practice to create the optimal classroom experience. Small groups of teachers bring their different areas of expertise together to develop courses around topics that you won’t see in other middle schools. These thematically-centered courses are a unique opportunity to examine challenging content through the lens of several academic disciplines. Through this approach, the boys are able to form connections for a more complete and nuanced grasp of the subject matter, while practicing critical thinking and gaining new skills.

Team Teaching was born in 2015 out of the desire of our dedicated faculty to work more closely with each other while better reaching the boys in creative and collaborative ways. Each of the Team Teaching courses is created by the faculty to be taught four times over the course of the school year to each grade level. Teachers are able to vary exercises, assignments, and discussions depending on the grade level. Three to four teachers from different disciplines team together in order to create and teach each course.

As one of our veteran teachers put it, “This is the most alive and engaged I have felt in the classroom in a long time. The energy from the boys and other faculty is palpable.”

This year’s topics are:

RE:Sources, Cycles, and Actions

What materials are recyclable? What happens to our waste when we throw it out? How do different materials decompose? How do we make better purchasing and material use choices? How can I reuse and repurpose objects in my life? Students in RE:Sources, Cycles, and Actions will answer all of these questions and more as they explore the minuscule to gargantuan impacts of reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Richmond Politics and Journalism

Students in Richmond Politics and Journalism will uncover and report on the issues facing our city today. We’ll explore Richmond via public transportation and talk to local activists and public officials. Topics we’ll investigate include: the proposed Navy Hill project, monuments on Monument Avenue, housing, environmental crisis, education, and school rezoning. We will also explore how our local governmental operates and how decisions are made.

Natural Succession

In this course, we will examine the progression over time of various natural, cultural, and technological systems. From the suitability of organisms to live in a particular ecosystem to the ability of language to be an effective means of communication, students will investigate the ways in which modifications have acted as agents of change. Students will explore historical case studies of how things have progressed to their current state, then apply that information to make predictions about future developments.