Student PD Day

Students decide what is taught for a day
Posted on 05/31/2017

Poplar Bluff Junior High School educators figured out a sure-shot way to tap into the intellectual curiosity of students – let them decide what to learn. 

Following MAP testing, Junior High faculty hosted a student personal development day on Tuesday, May 23, after asking one simple survey question: If you can come to school and learn about anything you want to learn about, what would it be?

The results included self-defense, Japanese culture, germs, sign language, feline behaviors, game meat and hip hop dance. District teachers, fellow students and community partners—even the Southeast Missouri Regional Bomb Squad—volunteered to teach the range of topics. 

“I didn’t get much sleep thinking about it,” said outgoing seventh grader Carson Nagy when asked about his level of anticipation. Of the sessions he participated in, Carson said his favorite was Highway Patrol because he learned DNA tests take much longer than depicted on CSI, suspects are not so easily identified and forensic scientists experience a higher degree of frustration. 

Selecting five sessions apiece gave students a taste of arena scheduling, plus exposed them to possible career paths. Eighth grader Jayvon Holloway chose a welding workshop since his father works in the field, he said. He also tossed in a ‘fun’ class: messy kitchen experiments, taught by instructor Brandon Moon of the Technical Career Center’s Culinary Arts program.

Holocaust, presented by social studies teacher Josh Wesemann, who also hosted survival 101, was suggested by eighth grader Sierra Sievers. Her favorite session, however, turned out to be mystery dissection during which students handled fetal pigs under the instruction of Ashley Woolard and Krista Yarbro of PBJHS. 

Communication arts instructor Julie Gambill, who helped put on a workshop about horses, commented that she gained more insight about what students do not know from the experiment. 

“It’s career day meets club day,” incoming Junior high principal Candace Warren said. Warren brought home the concept just months prior after participating in the Midwest Education Technology Community conference in St. Louis where she attended a workshop led by student PD day founder Erin Lawson, district technology coach for Orchard Farm. 

“It has every aspect—the arts, science, physical activities—to meet students’ interests, expose careers and ultimately make a well-rounded person,” Warren continued.


Cutline: Handler Tina Burchett introduces students to Magnum during an equine session entitled “Holding Your Horses.” 

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