The room design did not work.
Crammed with fourth grade materials AND fifth grade materials as well as the fact that the room is considerably smaller than last year's room and the reality that I'm teaching 44 (22 each session) students a day with hands-on math and science activities, it was clear today that it's time for a room makeover.
So I'm trying another configuration.
I put all the STEAM materials and tables in the back of the room. When those items were close to the "amphitheater" (desk listening, share and audio-visual area), students just couldn't take their eyes of the materials. Also the fact that the items were crammed in a corner wasn't good either. Now there's a lot more space for invention and exploration--just in time for the global cardboard challenge next Monday.
In a sense I'm employing lots of new, 3-D teaching in a traditional room. I think the new configuration will be a step towards a better tomorrow--let's see. Onward