Different Approaches At Starline Encourage Learning

Different Approaches At Starline Encourage Learning
Becky Maxedon / 01 Aug 2023 / No Comments » Comments

By Becky Maxedon

When students in the Lake Havasu Unified School District return to class Aug. 3, Starline Elementary teachers will greet them with great looks to the environment where they will spend their days learning.

Karen Rockwell teaches fifth-grade math. With 23 years of teaching under her belt, she has been at Starline for six years.

To say that she is a fan of Mickey Mouse would be an understatement.

Karen Rockwell’s Mickey themed classroom at Starline Elementary. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

“I’ve always loved to go to Disneyland and Mickey – you can look at everything in this classroom and Mickey always has a smile on his face. He’s bubbly, he’s ready to learn in here,” Rockwell said.

“My biggest thing in here is we have family time. When we go to Disneyland, my family is number one to me. Number one to me here at school are my kids ‘cause I create relationships with them and it’s just so important to me,” she said.

“I feel like if you have a happy class, you’re going to have happy kids – happy family – and it’s just the happiest place on earth in this classroom.”

Rockwell said she has no clue how many Mickeys she has in her classroom.

“Every bulletin board in here has a Mickey on it,” she said.

Rockwell said she has been collecting Mickeys for years. She said she spends a lot of time in her classroom and the Mickeys make her happy.


Karen Rockwell’s Mickey themed classroom at Starline Elementary. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

“I want to be in a place where I’m happy – in a fun and happy place.”

All the kids have Mickey Mouse name tags.

Many of the Mickeys have been purchased by Rockwell, but many have also been given to her by students, their parents and grandparents.

“All the gadgets were either given to me by the kids, by another teacher, by a principal, kids and their families I’ve taught over the years,” she said. Among those are a little painting done by a grandparent of one of her students, a diamond painting of Mickey Mouse and more.

“I have a Mickey Mouse quilt that my mom made for me. I’ve always told my mom that I don’t want anything but if she made it for me, I’ll have it if she’s no longer with us. It makes me smile.”

Christina Musselman is a first-grade Starline teacher. Of her 20 years teaching, she has spent 16 years teaching first grade.

“I think I love building a relationship with their families the most because if you start that foundation early, hopefully it will stay with them when they get older,” Musselman said when asked what she likes about teaching first grade.

Starline Elementary Lake Havasu

Christina Musselman in her Dr. Suess themed classroom. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

“Just when they tell me they’re not good at reading and then they’re reading me words and I have to say, ‘you just read that to me,’” she said.

“So, I think just that lightbulb moment is exciting. They love school. They’re curious.”

Musselman’s reading nook features Dr. Seuss books.

“Part of the reason behind Dr. Seuss is that a lot of his books help kids to read because they’re repetitive. They’re easy to read. They’re sight words. I taught my children how to read with Dr. Seuss books,” she said.

“I have ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ here in the classroom,” she said.

Starline Elementary

Christina Musselman’s Dr. Suess themed classroom at Starline Elementary. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

The book was hers first and then her daughter’s.

“The binding is not in there anymore. It has my name in it, it has Melissa’s name in it,” Musselman said.

“It’s just a good set of books to help somebody start to read.”

In Musselman’s classroom there is a reading sounds wall and a word wall.

She said the district uses the Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) curriculum.

“There are tricky words which are high-frequency words that might be yellow to show them they need to slow down a little bit to read that word because they can’t sound it out,” she said.

Christina Musselman’s Dr. Suess themed classroom. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

“Then sounds. We do everything on sounds in the first grade when we start learning to read. So, it helps them learn to sound out the words without as well as to spell them.”

Musselman said that her room has often been described as “busy.”

“But I want it to be student friendly. I want to attract student attention. I want them to be excited when they come in here and so there’s a lot to look at on the wall, but everything has a purpose.”

Another first-grade teacher at Starline is in her third year of teaching.

Hanna Walgren’s room features a color pallet of pink, gray and black.

“Pink is my favorite color and I definitely wanted to incorporate that into my classroom because I spend so much time here and more natural neutral tones are calming,” she said.

Hanna Walgren poses in her pink and black themed classroom at Starline. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

“It helps us to destress and the kids, when they come in here, you can see their bodies relax and so I think I’m definitely going to always stick with these natural calming colors.”

Walgren said the reading nook in her classroom is the softest, coziest area.

“Reading was my favorite part of school. I love reading to the kids. Read-alouds are my favorite, and I want them to love reading so much,” she said.

She said she has created an area where the students can grab a stuffy (stuffed animal) and read to it or a reading buddy.

One of the walls in Walgren’s classroom features a calendar.

Starline 2023 school year Lake Havasu

Hanna Walgren’s reading nook in her classroom. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

“I have our calendar and days of the week and we have a morning meeting. The kids get super excited. The kids get to count how many days we’ve been in school where we’re at on our calendar.

She said that carpet time is big in her classroom.

“We spend most of our time on the carpet looking up at the board and up at the wall. I try to keep most of the wall clean. I want them focused on building community and not distracted by things that are on the wall,” she said.

To read about Oro Grande’s decorated classrooms, click here: https://riverscenemagazine.com/oro-grande-elementary-teachers-add-personal-flair-to-classrooms/

To read about Thunderbolt’s decorated classrooms, click here: https://riverscenemagazine.com/thunderbolt-middle-school-teachers-talk-style-and-vibes-in-their-classrooms/


A sign in Hanna Walgren’s classroom. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene




No Comments » Comments:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *