Melanie Claybar, an English teacher at Little Cypress-Mauriceville Consolidated School District, often felt as if her hands were tied. Claybar teaches AP English Language Composition to some of the 1,100 students in the Orange, Texas school district. But she often found herself lacking the resources necessary for her students to create the well-rounded research papers with authoritative sources she expected.
“We were just so limited on the topics students could choose,” Claybar said. “I would have to develop a list of topics and identify a collection of websites I knew were credible for students to use. It took a lot of time on the teacher’s part.”
Spending time in the library searching for books on specific research topics took Claybar out of the classroom and made it more difficult to achieve her objective: providing an array of research materials that introduce both sides of a topic to students. “They can use Google,” Claybar said. “But the district has strict filters for controversial topics so the students just can’t research some of those topics on the open web.”
It was a problem that limited the research topics from which students could choose and also impacted the quality of the papers students produced.