Classroom Themes: And even theme songs…

I teach high school. Some may think that at the high school level, a classroom theme is too silly… But I am about to give it a try!

In my collaboration with Kristy Placido (@placido) over the years, we have come up with some pretty great lessons… I think our plan this year is going to be one of our most compelling! She wanted to gamify the classroom a bit… Have a theme of the Amazing Race that ran throughout the year! Kids will have missions to complete and roadblocks to overcome as they study each unit throughout the year… The classroom content will still be the same (well, I guess that isn’t true since I am always changing something) but the classroom will be surrounded by this theme of the Amazing Race!

I plan to: Seat students in 4s at my tables, each table is a team for the year. I will take the team’s picture and post it on a year long bulletin board that will keep track of the teams’ progress on each obstacle! I think the kids will love seeing who is in the lead at each stop on the path!

In level 1, our theme is going to be “Who Am I?” and as we go about our regular TPRS stories and novel readings mixed with our authentic pieces, we will try to figure out what it is that makes us who we are and where we fit in a global community. I have a Who Am I logo that will appear on various critical thinking pieces throughout the year!

In level 4, I have a quiet group. Our theme for the year is going to be “Thinking outside the box.” For each unit of study I am actually going to pack items into a box and as we unpack the obvious, I will be encouraging them to think deeper. Again, I have a logo that will appear on any activity that I want them to think critically about! I am hoping it serves as a reminder that not everything has an A,B,C or T/F answer!

Not by level but by individual class, I plan to allow students to choose a theme song. Their theme song will represent them throughout the year and will (hopefully) create a bond within each class! Again, I’ll keep you informed on how it is working!!

I’d love to collaborate Spanish 1 and 4 with a like-minded classroom! My level 1 will read 4 novels and will be acquiring structures in the first 5 chapters of Carol Gaab’s Cuentame Mas curriculum… Plus lots of cultural things on the side! In level 4, we will be studying legends, bullfighting, Evita Peron, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and the Dirty War in Argentina…

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas","Bananas", "Sostenible", and "Papálotl" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

7 thoughts

  1. Would you be willing to share some of the amazing race challenges you create for Spanish 1? I wanted to do an amazing race review activity at the end of last year but did not get it all together in time. I would love to see/use what you have come up with. Great idea!!

    1. Depends on the kids. Some groups I’ve had can do 4 a year, some only 3! Last year we did Brandon Brown wants a dog, New Houdini, and Esperanza. If I can, I’d like to add Bandon vs Yucatan this year… The group seems really bright so far!

  2. Carrie-if you’re still looking for a Span. 4 teacher from WI with whom to collaborate, I’d love to! Let me know what you’re thinking…DM me if you’re interested! -Kris

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