1) Ask. A couple years ago, I asked my principal if we could purchase an iMac for our school's video production program. That year, a certain amount of money happened to be ear-marked specifically for technology purchases. If I had not asked, that money may have gone unspent because in education: if you don't use it, you lose it. Some administrators are not aware of the specific tools you need until you ask. It's equally possible that your principal may be waiting for you to show some initiative; the last thing any principal wants to see is a large sum of money wasted on technology that collects dust in a closet because no one really wanted it in the first place. So ask! The worst thing that can happen is they say no. It's more likely they'll say, "Not yet." If that happens, be sure to ask the following year.
2) Write grants. A quick Google search for education grants will reveal a variety of funding agencies and organizations eager to fund innovative projects written and submitted by creative teachers like yourself. If your idea doesn't have a direct technology focus, keep at it. Work with your proposal until it includes some kind of technology component. You must have a technology element to justify your need for technology-related items. A word of caution: You'll most likely lose more grants than you'll win, so be prepared for disappointment. When you eventually win one, it's an amazing feeling of accomplishment. Then, go out and purchase those tech items for your class!
3) Donate. A wise boss once taught me that I could cover at least 10 more sandwiches with mayo if I would simply scrape the mayo jar with a rubber spatula instead of a metal knife. I had been wasting company money! Now, whenever I upgrade a piece of technology in my personal life (whether it be a tech gadget, computer, mouse, whatever...) I slip it into the classroom ecosystem. For example, my old iMac G3 is now an extra word processor. My old Palm IIIc runs math games that some students use to improve their basic math skills. I recently bought a new Kodak all-in-one printer and promptly donated my old Lexmark printer/scanner to the classroom. I plan to use this to scan and ultimately upload student work to my students' ePortfolios. Of course, donations are also a tax write-off. So go on, breathe life into your old, unwanted gear.
How are you expanding your classroom's technology inventory? Share your thoughts!