Learning the parts of a sentence was no chore for seventh grade students in Lauren Fynboe’s language arts classes at Russellville Middle school last week, when Fynboe held a “wedding” for the subject and predicate.
“Dearly beloved,” Fynboe said from behind a streamers- and balloon-decorated podium in front of her class, “we are gathered here to celebrate the union of these blessed souls, the subject and predicate.”
Fynboe read from a ceremony co-written with her mother, Jo Travis, a retired seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher. Behind her was a wall of hand-colored wedding bells created and hung by students.
“We vow to never separate this happy couple,” Fynboe said.
The classroom’s center aisle separated the subject’s side from the predicate’s side. Each student on the subject side had a piece of paper with a subject written on it. Each student on the predicate side held a hand-written predicate.
When each subject-holding child walked to the front of the room during the ceremony, the child holding the predicate that would appropriately complete a sentence walked forward to marry their predicate to the subject.
“I now declare you a sentence,” Fynboe said as each proper sentence materialized.
Fynboe loved giving the children, some of whom were dressed up as if they were going to a real wedding, this “real-world example” because “many of the children did not know about the bride’s side of the chapel and the groom’s side of the chapel” during a wedding ceremony, she said.
Her lesson didn’t stop there. She talked to the students about proper wedding attire and behavior, and offered bonus points to the children who dressed up.
Fynboe also required each of her students to know why the subject represented the bride and the predicate the groom.
“The reason, as they explained, is because the bride is the most important part of the day. It’s all about her and what she wears, how she looks, the colors she chose. The groom, well, he wants the action. He asked her to marry him. He took her on all the dates. He will drive the car away from the chapel. While the bride is just to sit there and be pretty, much like the subject, it is the groom’s job to take her places and make sure she gets out!”
Fynboe said the idea for the wedding came to her last year when she was planning to teach subjects and predicates to her seventh grade students.
While she used the marriage analogy a good bit last year, she needed time, as with the planning of a real wedding, to plan a ceremony.
When it came time to have the wedding this year, invitations were sent to Fynboe’s seventh-grade students.
“After opening the invitations, we dissected each sentence, color-coding all the subjects and all the predicates, as an introductory exercise,” Fynboe said. “This gave me the opportunity to see their prior knowledge and to quickly review the material I would be teaching. Once we completed that, I created a graphic organizer that represented a wedding chapel. At the top of the graphic organizer there were two boxes, one labeled ‘Subject,’ the other, ‘Predicate.’ In the boxes, the students had to write one thing they knew about each of them.”
Fynboe used many other teaching strategies in her subject and predicate wedding effort, for which Fynboe had help decorating from her husband, Ryan, and her two-year-old daughter, London.
Many others helped as well.
Travis made wedding cakes for each of Fynboe’s seventh grade classes. Cindy Suiter, stepmother of seventh grade students (and twins) Luci and Nelson Suiter, made punch. Student Phillip Wilkerson brought flowers for all to enjoy. Student Emma McReynolds brought a candle as a gift.
“The wedding itself was certainly a community effort,” Fynboe said.
Fynboe, who says she loves her job, is now looking forward to building on the wedding theme.
Now that the subject and predicate are married, “they will live in a happy little place we call the sentence, and in our upcoming units, as we add in other parts of speech and grammar, we’ll be adding to their home and family,” Fynboe said.
Fynboe’s remarkable” students inspire her to come up with creative ways to teach them,” she said.
“Watching their faces and seeing their excitement build as we prepared for this blessed union of souls has me truly counting the days until we can do another celebration like this,” she said.