Heading into a poetry analysis assignment, some of my students were nervous.  In schools, poetry is often presented as precious or esoteric.

So I walked around this weekend with a problem in my head.  How can I help my students approach an analysis assignment (whether it’s an analysis of a poem or a contract or an email) without fear?  How can I help them to present the best versions of their thinking when they encounter a text and have to report on it?

I came up with a goofy acronym: U.T.M.O.P.S.  I believe it might be useful to anyone in the position to have to analyze a document and then present that analysis to someone else (a teacher, a boss, a spouse, a child).

for you

Unpack and understand the task or prompt
Make your thinking visible by sketching, jotting, or annotating

for your audience

Organize your thinking
Polish your thinking
Ship your thinking to the intended audience


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