Meet Angela Bunyi

By Angela Bunyi on August 30, 2010
  • Grades: 3–5


Greetings from Tennessee! My name is Angela Bunyi (like Daniel Boone-yee) and this is my 11th year of teaching. Follow me on Top Teaching where you'll find class set-up videos, my classroom and projects in photos, and ideas and resources to use right away.  

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 5th grade teacher at DiscoverySchool at Reeves Rogers in Murfreesboro, a school for the gifted/talented and high achieving. I am excited to venture out of a traditional setting to challenge some of the brightest individuals our county has to offer. I believe I am ready for the challenge! And speaking of challenges, I'm not afraid of change. I'm always up for a new goal 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 a furthering of my education that is just short of a doctorate. I hold degrees from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville as well as TennesseeStateUniversity. 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 2-6 and was a literacy coach for grades K-3. 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 of "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:

Conference

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 complements, 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.

 1182 

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. Thank you so much for sharing so many wonderful ideas! I was interested in your writing targets. Can you tell me how this works in your classroom?

Hey Kristin,

Thanks for asking! I am really proud of my progress. I was top 5 in my last 5k and first in my division(with near 1,000 runners) and 13th overall for a 10K I ran literally an hour ago. I am about to go back out and complete another 5 miles in mere seconds... so it is busy, busy, busy.

My marathon is December 11 in Huntsville. Meanwhile I have a half marathon on the 25th (shooting for 1:45 finish) and another one in mid-October (hoping for a sub 8 minute pace for that one).

Best to you,

Angela

Hi Angela! Thank you so much for all of your terrific ideas and advice. I check in weekly to see what's new. I was curious...how did the marathon you were training for go?! Thanks, Kristin

Hello Melanie,

It's nice to hear that I have helped you when funds are few and far between. But as you have found, you can learn just as much devoting your time to professional literature on the market. My backbone mentor would be Lucy Calkins. If you can get your hands on her writing units it will help you in a significant way. For example, we are currently following her fiction unit. That means students are primarily writing fiction entries, but are permitted to write in a variety of genres during our unit as well.

When you are launching writer's workshop much of your time will be focused on generating topics, lists, etc. That means students will revisit their list of things to write about or jump on topics shared by others in class during share time.

And I always say entries or piece instead of story/stories to model that writing is not one genre. Tomorrow, for example, we will work on a mountain plot chart. This will be part of our writing entry for the day. Yesterday, students created a chart listing external and internal character features.

I hope that helps!

Angela

Hi Angela, I stumbled upon your fabulous website and was pleasantly suprised. I have followed many of your tips which have really strengthened our Languae Arts program. I have not been formally trained in the Reading/Writing workshop, but find bits and pieces along the way to best implement into the curriculum. I teach at a private school where, unfortuanately, funds are not available for many professional growth opportunities. Anyway, long story short, I wondered if you could tell me what students should do during the writing component after they have gathered many ideas and then need to begin writing. Do they pick something from their list and begin a story? What do you mean by an entry? Thank you for making this clear for me. I look forward to hearing your response. I am so happy to have found your site!

Hello Dana!

Like I said with Amanda above, I actually remember many of my readers. I am pretty sure you are the same Ashley from White House that wrote on here last year (I have a special place in my memory for TN readers). If so, awesome that you are following us again this year. I am POSITIVE this is going to be my best year for new ideas and posts. I can just feel it!

Good luck this year with your classroom, and let me know if you have any post ideas in mind for me. I'd love to hear your suggestions!

TN love,

Angela

Hey Victoria!

Yes, I do remember that first email. I think I said something along the line of being jealous of your amazing website. :) And part of the reason I sent that email is because of this position. Seeing the direct power of positive words sent here reminded me to send some positive words myself. I may have been one person emailing you about your site, but remember that there are many others that value what you are giving back too.

Keep up the great work! I hope your school year is starting off strongly!

Much love,

Angela

You're baaaaack!!!! :)

I discovered your blogs last fall. They provided a constant source of inspiration in my teaching! Over the summer, I went through and literally read every one of your blogs- even your really old ones! :)

I just wanted to let you know what a huge impact you have made on my classroom. I teach 1st grade in White House, TN (right up the road from you!). Even though you teach the older students, I've been able to adapt many of the ideas down to first grade level. I purchased Lucy Calkin's Units of Primary Study over the summer, and I LOVE doing writer's workshop with my students. This year in my classroom, I'm adding more learning hands-on activities (less textbooks!), the workshop method, and lots more individual conferencing.

I love that you discuss your favorite teaching gurus in your posts. Barnes and Noble and Amazon have become great friends of mine recently!

I look forward to your posts this year.

Welcome back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

I am excited about you having yet another fantastic year! Congratulations, Angela. You are always a phenomenal inspiration. I am grateful I responded to your e-mail about my website a few years back and we became friends. :) - Victoria

Hello Diane,

Well, it looks like you might be able to help me then! And because you have followed me for a while, please let me know if you have any suggestions on new posts for the year.

Best,

Angela

Thanks for the positive comment! Cole's going to grow so much this year! We have such a fun group...I enjoy coming to school each day. It's a great feeling.

Best to you,

Angela

Hi Angela, Welcome Back!! I have been following your blog, as well as Beth's, for the past two years. I can not thank you enough for opening up your classroom to the rest of us, and offering such inspirational ideas and practical advice. I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to incorporate some of those ideas with relative success in my own room. I am currently a 5th grade teacher (used to be 3rd and 4th), so I am really looking forward to your posts this year regarding your own experience in 5th grade. Keep up the great work!!

I am excited that Cole is finally reading and liking it!! Thank you so much for making learning fun for our too cool for school 5th graders!!

Hey Amanda,

What's even nicer is that I recognize many of my readers now. Yourself included. I still remember when Beth and I joined together for Top Teaching that she believed some of the comments had to be from teacher friends because they posted so frequently. When I told her that no teachers from my school (or teacher friends) had posted for the year, she couldn't believe it. I am lucky to have a small little following!

And I just can not wait to share my new journey this year. So many positive changes. I am excited!

Best,

Angela

Angela,

Well, I'm very happy to see that you are back on Scholastic yet again! I feel like since this is the third year of your blog, I can officially consider myself an Angela Bunyi fan and supporter. Haha! I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts this year. Thanks for sharing your ideas with the world! I hope that you're enjoying fifth grade.

Cheers, Amanda

Hey Brittany,

I had 26 students the first year I wrote with Scholastic. The challenge was that it was in a single-wide portable! But good luck to you with still managing to meet one-on-one with each student while creating small group instruction too! Awesome work Brittany.

And I am very excited about sharing more this year. Come back shortly for my post on unrolling reader's workshop and setting up my revised classroom library.

Best,

Angela

Hello!

I really enjoyed reading all of your posts last year and have started out the year fully implementing reading and writing workshop. I am already having conferences with students and I absolutely love it so far! I have 26 students in both my a.m. and p.m. language arts classes, so I can only meet with each student once a week. I can already tell that they really enjoy the freedom of reading and writing in the classroom and it has been fantastic so far! I can't wait to see my students grow.

In response to Dana's post... I have my students do three rotations each day during my 90 minutes that I have for language arts. During the first two rotations I do conferences with students. During the final rotation, I pull a small group aside and we go over a story from the basil. I pull a different small group each day and we focus on the reading skill that we're covering during mini-lessons. It's worked very well so far!

I can't wait to read all of your great ideas in the upcoming year!

Brittany

Hello Dana,

Oh, I am in heaven now. I am really loving teaching fifth grade this year. Reading and writing workshop looks very different in many ways (and many ways not), so I am excited to share how those changes have rolled out.

And I do not have to teach with a basal. That came from my school three years ago. Luckily, we have the freedom to teach skills in an authentic way, through rich literature. In fact, our school doesn't use textbooks much at all!

But it sounds like you have a nice literacy block. That gives you some time to work with kids! If you are an upper grade teacher and want to develop deeper reading/writing responses, look up Linda Rief's Inside the Writer's-Reader's Notebook: A Workshop Essential.

Best,

Angela

Angela, I am so excited for you to start back up! I have been anxiously awaiting. One thing I did this year was organize my library the way you and Beth do. It helps me consider where I need more books. It also lets me see what the class enjoys. I can see that the humorous fiction bin is running low and I should probably put more in the class!

I am a reading and writing teacher. That is all I teach. I have two different classes so I have them for 2 hours and 15 minutes. This year I started implementing reading response journals. This way we can converse about what they are reading 2-3 times a week while teaching writing with elaboration. How do you find time for more individualizing certain things when you have to teach from a basil too?

Thanks!

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