After He's Decided to Leave

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Photo by Denzel Golatt

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Breaking Up

Step 1

Ask your students, “Have you ever had to part with something you weren’t necessarily “ready” to part with, whether that be a person, an animal, a friend, etc.?” Then have them discuss.

Step 2

Watch the embedded video with your students.

Step 3

Have your students read “After He’s Decided to Leave” by Elizabeth Acevedo. Then discuss the similarities in response, if any, between the woman from the movie and the speaker from the poem. Try to guide your students into discussing that both characters feel a variety of emotions in response to the breakup, that it’s not a singular emotion or feeling.

Step 4

Give your students time to think of a particular “break up” and jot down as many feelings that were going through their mind and body as they were trying to process the separation.

Step 5

Have your students write a poem in which they document their complex feelings during a “break up.”

Step 6

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one. The prominent literary devices & techniques that this particular poem includes are: tone, figurative language, diction, selection of detail, and imagery.

Step 2

Watch the following video. Have your students try to determine the variety of emotions both characters feel throughout, particularly the girl, then have them discuss.

Step 3

Read “After He’s Decided to Leave” by Elizabeth Acevedo, paying particular attention to the variety of feelings she expresses throughout the poem.

Step 4

Discuss the term “ambiguity,” then have them try to determine how the term applies to Acevedo’s poem.

Step 5

Have your students open the following document and go over the directions with them. In this assignment, they are going to have to identify the speaker’s conflicting emotions through the ambiguity of the poet’s choice of words and details.

Step 6

When your students are done, discuss their findings. Then show them the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Death / Grief
  • Family
  • Food / Hunger
  • Friendship
  • Joy
  • Love

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Tone