I am often asked, “What would you get for your classroom if…..?”  I thought I would tackle that question today in the context of a $500 gift.

Assumption #1 – Why $500? Mainly because I found the awesome cover picture of a $500 bill from WikiMedia Commons (A great resource if you are looking for Creative Commons licensed media).  The other reason for the $500 limit is that seems to be a reasonably attainable amount through grants,  donations sites (like donorschoose.org and adoptaclassroom.org), or your own money.

Assumption #2 – I am going to approach this like my room has the fairly standard one computer and projector setup.

And now the list:

ipadcompareiPad 2$350 at Walmart

Given the limited budget and the lack of mobile technology in this fictional classroom, the iPad 2 is the best overall option.  The larger screen allows the iPad to work great as a center with up to 3 students using it at one time.  It is important to note that the iPad 2 still retails for $399.  At that price you might be tempted to purchase a 1st generation iPad Mini for $299.  The reality is the 1st generation iPad Mini specs are almost identical to the iPad 2 in the areas that are important (Graphics Memory and Processor).  There are always deals to be found on iPad 2 if you spend a little time searching on the internet.  You can count on finding an iPad 2 for at least $50 off.  I usually start with Amazon and then move my way through all the big retailers.  If you can plan on doing your purchasing around Black Friday you can up the discount to $100 off.  The next step is to purchase a device that will maximize the iPad 2 in the classroom, the Apple TV.


Apple TV – $74 – Apple Refurbished Store

The Apple TV usually retails for $99, but Apple is constantly offering it at $74 from the Apple Refurbished Store.  The refurbished store is often overlooked on Apple’s website but it is one of my first places to look when purchasing Apple products.  I have purchased monitors, computers, iPods, iPads, and accessories (like the Apple TV) from the refurbished store and have always had a great experience.  On average you can save 25% – 50% which makes the items much more affordable.  Everything comes with a 1 year warranty and you can still purchase Apple Care to extend the warranty to 3 years.

Using Airplay this classroom now has the ability to project through the Apple TV (attached to the projector) everything that is on the iPad.  Students can display their group work to the class and the teacher can integrate the iPad 2 into lessons.

HDMI to VGA/w Audio Converter – $30 – MacMall **(Check your projector)**

HDMIThis may be an item you don’t need if you have a new projector (purchased in the last two years).  The Apple TV only has HDMI out (pictured on the left).  However, most projectors in the classroom only have a VGA connection.  If the projector does have a VGA connection, then you need a way to convert the HDMI to VGA.  Cue the Kanex ATV Pro, it is available at MacMall for $30.00 as a refurbished item (50% off buying new from Apple).  I prefer this converter because it doesn’t require external power.

iOS Apps – $46

The remainder of the gift will purchase apps.  This procedure varies widely between districts depending on your policies (VPP or iTunes).  Jason and I will continue to add to our list of our top apps (Jason just reviewed Halftone 2).  The best resource we have found for app discovery in education is http://ipadapps4school.com/

So there it is!  With this setup the teacher will be able to integrate apps into their daily instruction and throughout the day students can be rotated through the iPad2. They can present their work, findings, creations to the entire class easily.  I have found that if you present your principal with a plan of action like this they are much more willing to get you the resources.  Feel free to use this as a proposal if you like the idea of this setup!

I am very interested in what you would do with $500 given your current classroom environment.  Please let us know in the comment section below…





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