I know, I know. How could I possibly say ‘text rendering’ and ‘set hearts on fire’ in the same title? Because it’s possible. 

Text rendering is the process of deconstructing a text: selecting portions that are important and making meaningful connections with the content. 
In some classrooms, text rendering can feel more like dissection rather than connection, which is why I love this particular activity so much. Not only does it help teachers think more deeply about what they are reading, it gives them an excellent model for their own book clubs with students, bringing a bit more meaning-making to the process.

Here’s how it works in a book club session:
  • Stock tables with highlighters, sticky notes and writing utensils.
  • Give teachers a few minutes to review the reading for the session and prepare for discussions.
  • Ask teachers to scan their reading and identify a word, phrase or sentence that lit their heart on fire, highlighting the actual text or jotting the words down on sticky notes (heart-shaped notes are perfect for this occasion!). This simple prompt works with all book types, genres and content. These words could set their hearts on fire, make them stop and think, intrigue them in some way or make them question the content or their teaching practices as a result of reading.
  • Encourage teachers to share their chosen words, phrases or sentences and why they matter to their thinking in small groups. Compile the sticky notes on a piece of chart paper and add any highlighted words not represented.
  • Compile the thinking in the room. Teachers could wander around the room reading the sticky notes at each table or you could lead a share session, giving each table 2 - 3 minutes to share their words and phrases.
  • Think across the ideas shared and head into deeper conversations as a whole group.
This kind of text rendering is a great way to ease into the discussions and then jump into the themes that emerge from the group rather than starting with premade discussion questions that may or may not gain teachers’ involvement. And, it is a great way to show teachers how reader-centered discussion often sparks more discussion and motivation than canned comprehension questions that often leave the reader out of the process.

How have you tried text rendering in your own book clubs? Share in the comments below!
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