Southwest Ranches school ditches the books

Archbishop McCarthy High School introduces nearly all-digital classrooms

SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. – In the sleek new library at Archbishop McCarthy High School, a few relics remain. It's the books, of course. What was once a traditional library with big bookshelves, is now almost totally book free.

In fact, you won't find text books at this Southwest Ranches high school. They're all digital all over campus, the iPad idea implemented by Maverick principal Richard Jean. The pens and pencils and paper not totally extinct as students still use them for some tests, but everything else, like a massive digital classroom is all synced via iPads and Apple TV.

Teachers love the system.

"The work we're getting is amazing," says math teacher and tech mentor Melissa Chriswisser. "Students are no longer limited to what they get in the classroom, or what database they can access. It ups their game."

The graphics and the audio from teachers' lectures are all recorded and uploaded to a network. Students can tap into that network anytime.

"We have all types of different apps that we can go back to see what teachers are saying," describes junior Lauren Garcia. "It's like going to class again."

That means no more lost notes or lost homework. Assignments must be submitted digitally by a certain time every morning. Tuition includes iPad insurance against loss, theft or damage. And the school's hallways are free of back breaking backpacks.

"It's a lot easier to carry things around. Helps me learn coming up in new generation with lots of technology in our lives," says junior Justin Nicholson.

English teacher Irene Rodriguez agrees.

"This one device gives them more than I ever could have," says Rodriguez. "A lesson in Shakespeare used to be seven pages. (Now) A lesson in Shakespeare is Google earth, going down into the Globe Theatre to see what it looks like today."

The iPads are filtered to restrict inappropriate content. The teachers at Archbishop McCarthy say they've been across the country, even to Egypt, training other schools how to set up a similar system.

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