Meet Angela Bunyi

By Angela Bunyi on August 25, 2009

Greetings from Tennessee! My name is Angela Bunyi (like Daniel Boone-yee) and this is my 10th year of teaching. I grew up in the Los Angeles area, but I’m happy to be living and teaching in a beautiful suburban community outside of Nashville now. I’m currently a 3rd grade teacher at Discovery School at Reeves Rogers in Murfreesboro, a school for the gifted/talented and high achieving. This is a change since my time serving as Scholastic’s Grades 35 Teacher Advisor in 20082009, but I am excited to venture out into this rewarding, challenging territory.

And speaking of my school move, I’m not afraid of change. I’m always up for a new challenge or adventure, and this has led me to some amazing opportunities. These include a teaching internship in Sweden for six months, participation in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund trip to visit and learn about schools in Japan, and an education that is just short of a doctorate. I hold degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as well as Tennessee State University. My degrees range from a BA in Psychology and an MS in Elementary Education with a concentration in Urban Multi-Culture Education to an EdS in Administration and Supervision. I have taught grades 26 and served as a literacy coach for grades K3. Each experience shapes who I am as an educator.

Perhaps the one experience that has shaped me the most was my time as a literacy coach. This was the first time I was able to step outside of the classroom and really ask the important question, "why?" I not only had to be ready to share new ideas with other educators, but I had to be able to explain the “why” behind my thinking. The more I worked with other teachers, the more I started to formulate two tenets that form the foundation for what I do in the classroom:


1. One-on-One Matters:

I spend nearly 200 hours, or almost eight days, holding one-on-one literacy conferences with my students each year. In addition to this one-on-one time, I also balance small group instruction in all areas, including math, through a workshop method. I believe this is time well spent.

This individualized work with students happens to be the most meaningful part of my day, as I can easily assess where each of my students are throughout the year. I can also say that I know my kids as individuals. And they remember our conversations, too. In my second year of coaching, I was doing a mini-lesson with a 3rd grade class when I decided to meet with a student about her writing. When I gave her my feedback and compliments, she quickly responded, "I don't know if you remember, but that's exactly what you suggested I work on last year, and now I'm good at it!"

Having worked at three different schools and with approximately 60 teachers as a coach, I not only didn't remember my conversation with her, I barely remembered her name! For a child to remember a single conference with a visitor the year before is quite amazing.


2. The “School Way” Needs to Be the “Real Way”:

  • Would we do this in real life?
  • Could you imagine yourself being given this assignment?
  • Is there anything to back this up as being helpful for your students?

I defend keeping real-life learning in our daily schedule. This includes taking time to talk about what we are reading, writing, and learning; having the choice to select our own writing topics and books; allowing time to try something out before being assessed; and allowing time to learn from each other.

When standards seem a mile wide, but only an inch deep, it’s easy to see how these ideals get left behind. But, when the temptation rises to cancel my book talk or writer's share time, I think about my own time spent talking about books with others and how that's helped me as a reader. I think about reading books like The Catcher in the Rye and how it was the talk with my husband that really created a better understanding for me. And while I might laugh at the idea of my husband giving me a quiz, he challenged my thinking and interpretation of the story more than any quiz could. I want to do the same for my students, and that starts with the basic premise of making the “school way” and the “real way” match up.

Comments

Hi Angela! I teach third grade in Shelbyville, TN, but have grown up in and commute from Mufreesboro. I'm trying to get "stuff" ready for next year. I am finishing up my second year teaching, and I am still trying to experiment with my writer's workshop schedule. I have not formally had a writer's workshop, but am DETERMINED to incorporate writing into my every day schedule. The problem I am having is trying to find time (where and when) to teach those dreaded SPI's: subjects,predicates, possessives, etc..I have many ELL students in my class and they struggle with these concepts. Sometimes it takes 3 days just for them to be able to really "get it" (those tested skills) Any suggestions on balancing a much needed skill focus and writing instruction/time?

Hello Amanda,

I posted and answered your question under the latest blog because it is a question I receive a lot....hoping current readers can benefit more there.

See you soon?

Angela

I absolutely love your blog/website. I am incredibly moved by your dedication not only to your students, but to the teaching community as well. There are so many helpful and valuable things that you cover with detail.

I live in Crossville and just participated in the writing project this past summer. I am in love with writer's workshop and am currently doing my research with school in this topic. I wasn't sure what your policy was reagrding visitation to observe your classroom. I have a friend that teaches 3rd grade and we would both be interested. She has a few days off during spring break, not sure if this would even be possible-but it would be incredibly awesome. Thanks again.

Hey Lauren,

What school do you teach at? And if you are in Murfreesboro, where is the snow?!?! Ha.

Okay, here are my two content bands I adore:

www.rockinthestandards.com - They only sing math songs, however.

www.mrduey.com- He has a mix of music, including science. He actually performed at my old school last year.

You will find both to be very catchy and natural. They have music backgrounds.

Oh, one more to throw in:

www.songsofhigherlearning.com - Great variety!

Best,

Angela

Hi Angela, My name is Lauren Buckley. I live in Murfreesboro, and teach in another county. I think that what you are doing in your classroom is amazing. I hope I can achieve what you have done in the next few years. I am in my second year of teaching. I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the man you mentioned liking his cds which teach certain content standards? I am trying to find a good cd for Science.

Thanks, Lauren

Hello Sandy,

I think there are two large tips I can give you.

The first is that I believe the way your classroom looks is very important. I really try to keep the room uncluttered and as organized as possible...as much as possible. I really try to incorporate plants, photos, and lightning all around the room. It creates a cozy feeling and keeps the mood calming. Look under our main page for some articles I have written about this in depth.

My second tip is to slowly teach your children to be independent. I believe strong routines and consistency help make this a reality. I would encourage you to read a book such as The Daily Five by the Sisters.

I hope that helps! Please read some of my archived work at: http://blogs.scholastic.com/3_5 for more tips.

Angela

Can you give me any information that would help me create this type of enviroment and learning for first grade.

Hello Julie,

Yes I have. For the recent workshops I presented at I didn't use any pre/post assessments, but I did receive feedback forms on the workshop itself.

When I was a literacy coach, if it was a workshop that was paid with funding, we were required to have teachers fill out an assessment form on the effectiveness of what they learned. It was mandated, and somewhat effective. Most of the time I think teachers ranked everything high because they didn't want to hurt my feelings. :)

Anyway, I hope that helps. If you are presenting at a conference, way to go!

Hi Angela, I was wondering if you have ever presented a professional development workshop for teachers? If so, I wanted to know what form of pre/post assessment you used with the teachers during the workshop or something you found effective to use? Thanks!

Hello Wendy,

Good question. My husband's job required a move, which meant a new county for me. I just missed having my OWN kids...especially during holiday times when your students make sweet little cards for you. I was actually offered a teaching or literacy coach job at my last school, but I just felt more productive/challenged in a classroom setting.

Good luck with your decision. I am sure you will make the right one for you.

Best,

Angela

Hi Angela, I was wondering how you decided to move from a literacy coach back into teaching. I am struggling with this a the moment and I would love to hear your insight.

Hello Grace,

You know I actually taught in Nashville for one year (Goodlettsville Middle School). Then we bought our first home and moved to Spring Hill.

Okay, to answer your question about literacy rotations. It depends. I have tried various things, but here are the stations that are staples:

~ Guided reading with me ~ Read with a partner ~ Scholastic's Reading Skills Kit (short passages- allow you to check your own work) ~ Computer (I've tried Into the Book, Raz A-Z, etc.) ~ Free read/write

I recently built into that 30 minute schedule a time for each student to work on their individual spelling (Words Their Way and high frequency words misspelled in context of their writing). It comes from Fountas and Pinnell's Study Buddies. I'll have to post on that later.

And the National Writing Project. I have not been involved with it, but my dear friend is heavily involved and instrumental to the project (paid).

And my husband surprised me with a trip to see Lucy Calkins last year in Memphis. Isn't that cute?

Best,

Angela

Hi Angela,

I have enjoyed reading about your classroom. I teach in Metro Nashville, so we are pretty close! AFter reading, I had a few wonderings about a few things I thought you might be able to answer.

1) On your schedule, its says you have 30 min for literacy rotations. What kind of activities do you include in this time?

2) I have been researching the National Writing Project and found a branch in Murfessboro at a college near there. I read that you met Lucy Caulkins, and figure she is involved in that also. Have you participated in the NWP?

Thanks for everything that you have put on the web! Very helpful!

Grace

Very observant Pattie! Administrators pick this up pretty quickly as well...especially post-observation conference when I end up leading the conversation on what I need to work on. I might reflect a little too much at times, but I also know that this is what makes me improve and keep on moving forward.

Come back for my post tomorrow afternoon!

Angela

I really like the way you reflect not only on your students but your own reading and writing choices. It is a great model not only for the students, but also reflects how you have internalized the process we ask of the children.You are always questioning the process, as you ask the students to do. The ability to reflect, adjust, and change directions in search of new ways to engage and individualize is exciting.I look forward to reading more reflections. Pat Gill

Hey Crystal,

Well, this is where time and testing things out comes into play. Yes to every author mentioned. I have taken things here and there and used whatever I can. Here are some quick recommendtations for you (including a district website that has detailed lesson plans for the year- UofS and reader's workshop):

http://curriculum.dpsk12.org/

Books Geared for Upper Grades

Deeper Reading Kelly Gallagher (for older audience, including middle school) Strategies That Work by Harvey and Goudvis (version 2, not 1) The Reading Zone by Nancy Atwell Reading Essentials by Regie Routman. And one of my favorites- Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor.

ALL of these books are geared for the upper grades and will help you out.

Good luck! Come back often. :)

Angela

Hi again,

Thanks for the quick response. I also wanted to wish you the best of luck at your new school!

I did have a question too. Lucy Calkin's "Units of Study" has been a great tool for preparing my writing lessons. I'm still trying to plan out how I will organize my lessons for reading workshop. I've read through the CAFE/Daily Five books and "Reading with Meaning". Do you create your lessons by combining the mini lessons mentioned in these books? Are there any other books you would recommend for teaching reading mini lessons? There are a lot of reference pages in the back of the CAFE book that were helpful but some don't specify which children's literature books would work best with them. "Reading With Meaning" had some really great ideas but a lot of it was aimed more toward the younger grades. I'm just wanting to make sure I'm covering all the many fourth grade skills there are! :)

Thanks, Crystal

Hey Crystal,

Wow, it sounds like you did a lot of reading/work to get started this school year. I am so happy to hear that it is making a difference and you are enjoying what you are doing in the classroom. That is very exciting for me to hear!

Here's to a great school year...

Angela

Hi Angela,

I'm in my third year of teaching 4th grade. Towards the end of last school year, I started looking for a new approach to teaching.

My first year, I taught a lot of textbook based instruction. My second year, I tried to create all the fancy fun centers. Neither approach was working.

I stumbled across your website and it has completely changed my teaching philosophy.

Over the summer, I read Lucy Calkin's "Units of Study" and "Reading with Meaning" by Debbie Miller. I also explored, "The Cafe Book" and "The Daily Five."

I spent a lot of time decorating my classroom with comfy chairs and making it cozier. I took your advice and added lamps, plants, and picture frames. My mother-in-law also donated a couch!

I have started off this new school year teaching reading and writing workshops. The students are loving it and so am I!

Thank you so much for taking the time to post all your ideas. I am truly grateful! You are really making a difference in the world of teaching!!! :)

Thank you Angela, my mistake and thanks for the spelling information too. Have a great school year!

Sherry

Sherry,

I'll let Beth know you have a question here about spelling. I did a quick check because I know she is busy with her first week of school, but I am sorry that I didn't find a list either.

And just in case you are asking about my spelling program, I use Words Their Way for individualized spelling lists.

Best,

Angela Bunyi

Hi Beth, I have learned so much from your website! I am modeling my spelling program after yours and I see you have taken down your lists. Will you post them again or could you refer a good reference book? I am just starting list two ( that's all I had downloaded). Thank you very much for all of the great information you have provided. Even though I am a veteran teacher I have learned a great deal and enjoy learning new strategies for teaching kids. Sherry

Thanks Samantha! I am excited about being back as well.

Hope you have a great day at school. :)

Angela

Angela, I am sooo happy you haven't left scholastic. I am such a huge fan! Your work inspires me to become a better teacher. I am so grateful there are teachers like you out there that publish their wonderful teaching methods and ideas. THANK YOU!

-Samantha

Hello Christine,

Thanks for writing here. So, wow, you are trying to arrange something school-wide? That is pretty impressive. Based on the past, some of the school's I have worked at have tried:

~ inviting military members of the community to come in and students recited songs, read letters, etc. They visited the rooms to read to the class. ~ Pin Wheels for Peace was another large project one of my schools completed to remember 9/11. You can Google that one. ~ Here is a long list of things under Education World: http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson244.shtml ~ Also, Scholastic has a unit plan posted for the upper grades: History in the Making http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/unitplan.jsp?id=278

Hope that helps, and I hope you had a great weekend!

Angela

Hello Angela, I commend you for your diligence, talent, and real-life learning. Not enough educators incorporate the real-life part! Even though this is not a literacy comment, I am wondering if you have ideas related to a school-wide project for discussing/remembering the attacks on September 11th. I consider you and Beth such an outstanding resource; wondering if you had any ideas. Thanks. Christine

Thanks Victoria. I needed to hear that because starting from scratch is really overwhelming. I still have so much missing from the site, but I have made some progress already.

Hope you are enjoying your day off today!

Angela

I think your website is looking sensational, Angela. I can tell a lot of diligent work has been put into it. Right now, I am preparing a slideshow of my students to go on the main page- I am excited to get them online and soon work on podcasting/videos/etc. I am also excited about you and Beth being here on Scholastic- I have learned a lot from both of you as well as Heather Renz in Oregon over the years. - Victoria :)

Thanks Matt. I worked on the website, www.mrsbunyi.com, for the first time in a while yesterday. I added the anchor chart link and will add more tonight to that page.

I will also do my best to get the CAFE link back up and running shortly.

Happy Sunday!

Angela

Hey Angela,

Thank you for the reply. I'm using the CAFE board/conference setup this year, so any extra stuff you had for that would be great. Also, you had pictures or samples of a number of anchor charts that were crated in your class, those were great too. There was really so much on there, it's hard for me to remember them all.

I look forward to seeing what Teaching Matters has to offer.

Thanks again.

Matt, NJ

Hello Matt,

Yes, in a way. I have everything on 4 CDs sitting in a dresser drawer. My hope is to keep my classroom site a site for parents and students and place everything else here under Teaching Matters. Beth Newingham will be doing the same thing.

I have had several requests for items recently, so if you give me your requests I'll post those things first.

Hope you are having a fantastic start this year!

Angela

Hi Angela,

I found your blog and teacher website really useful at the end of last year. There was a lot of your teacher page I was hoping to use this year but now that you moved to a new school, those resources are gone. Will all of those things you used to share be showing up at some point? I really hope so!

Matt, NJ

Hello!

I believe our site, Teaching Matters, is going to be growing soon. We should have an area to place documents shortly. That would be an excellent one to add, BUT our goal is to create a part of the site where you can add your documents too. That way, others can look at mine, yours, and Beth's...and we can learn, take, and modify what we like.

Hope to have some new things for you shortly. I'll make sure this is one of the first things I add.

Angela

Hi, I was wondering if you had a smaple of a scoring guide you use for reading response letters. I have been struggling with creating one. I have one I use but I just don't like it.

Hello!

Thanks for writing here! With my adjustment of working in a new school, I am sorry to say that I have been a little busy! I hope to be running again and in full swing shortly to share new ideas here. :) Thanks for the motivation...

Wishing the very best for you all.

Angela Bunyi

Angela, It is so wonderful to see both you and Beth back on Scholastic. This is my third year teaching 4th grade and I couldn't wait to go back to school mostly due to the inspiration of such wonderful teachers as you and Beth are! I really look forward to communicating with you both. Thank you for all you do to help kids and teachers alike! Hope you have an exciting year teaching.

Hi Angela, I am so glad you are back at Scholastic. Best of luck at your new school and with working with Beth. I look forward to communicating with you this year and following your posts. Hope you have a great start to the school year! Diann

Hello Angela,

Happy to see you back. I was amazed by the number of hours you spend on just literacy conferencing with students - Wow! And I so believe that keeping school in touch with real-life helps contextualize learning in ways that we can not begin to teach. I look forward to learning more from you this year. Thanks...

Post a Comment
(Please sign in to leave a comment. Privacy Policy)
top
RSS Subscribe ButtonSign up to get these great teaching ideas delivered automatically.Subscribe now >