Ms. O'Meara's 2nd Grade Class

The 2B Happy Campers

Falling into the Holidays!


Hello Families and Friends!

The Holidays are just around the corner and the year is just flying by for us! It is now sweater weather…time for our old wing of the school to turn on our archaic radiant floor heater and see crayons melt and children lay all over the warm floor haha 🙂

My son, husband, parents and I are taking off tomorrow for South Bend, Indiana where we will watch Notre Dame (my father’s alma mater and hopefully my son’s future college) beat Navy (my husband is a retired Naval combat medic/chief) in the historic ND/Navy football game. My wonderful substitute, Mrs. Johnson, is ready to take the reins for a few days. Go Irish!

We had a great few weeks here in 2B. Lots of fun was had by all during the Field Day events including my personal favorite, the dance station! Plus, the faculty beat the 8th graders several times in the annual volleyball games…and more good news is that none of us teachers broke any hips or blew out any knees in the interim 😉

Field Day before and after
Thank you for all of the canned good donations given to our Thanksgiving food drive; we are trying to collect 500 cans total combined with Ms. Hart’s class. We have a long way to go and appreciate any and all help for the Community Food Bank.

On another note, the holiday book report is due on December 6th. I can’t wait to hear about all of the cool books the students have read and I’m looking forward to decorating the class for the holidays with their lovely work!



We have been reading some very interesting stories together as a whole group as well as in our small reading groups. We finished our unit called “Water for Everyone.” A few recent selections we read were “PlayPumps” by Catherine Clarke Fox which was an article that describes the PlayPump, an invention that has helped millions of people in Africa get clean water. Another selection, “The Mighty Colorado” by Mimi Mortezai, introduces Explorer Jon Waterman, who works to preserve the Colorado River, a source of water and power for millions of people. Some interesting vocabulary words that kept popping up in our reading were: clean, draws, healthy, invention, machine, pipes, provide, pump, require, source, and wells. Our next reading unit will focus on reaching out and lending a hand to those in need.


We worked on words with long e and long u during the past two weeks. One way we worked on these spellings is by playing a “making words” game. This is where I give the students a whole bunch of random letters and they put the letters together to make several small words. In these cases, the words had many of the sounds that we were working on. At the end of the game, all of the letters spell one big word. This is yet another “trick” to get kids to learn even when they think they aren’t doing so!


We were able to write another RAFT: the students assumed the role of a piece of Halloween candy. Their job was to write a persuasive letter to the trick or treater who owns them to talk the trick or treater out of eating them! We went from being stale to being poisonous! These were incredibly funny! We are all actively working on using more descriptive language in our formal and informal writing. We are currently going through a writers’ workshop session with a fun Thanksgiving story. The students all are assuming the role of a turkey who is narrating the story. So, while writing in the voice of a turkey, the students are able to write a fun and interesting Thanksgiving adventure. When finished, these books will be displayed in our classroom library along with the students’ self-written Halloween books. Spoilers: some of the turkeys don’t make it out of their adventures unscathed.


We have been “all about” fractions over the past 2 weeks! We began by discovering the meaning of one half. The students solved story problems in which they partitioned geometric shapes (which we studied in the past investigation) into halves. Through discussions and exploration, the students have examined the idea that halves can be equal size, but different shapes. The students also worked with fourths and thirds by creating fraction flags and working with the ever-so-fun Geoboards. The students understand that fractions are equally partitioned parts of one whole item. Next up will be Unit 3 which provides students opportunities to engage with ideas that lay a foundation for algebra – cool!

Geoboards and fraction flags

Social Studies

We are still continuing to work on making and reading maps. We worked on making maps of our bedrooms making sure to add all of the permanent fixtures. We realize that maps don’t have details, such as people and cars. Rather, maps include large objects that are stationary. We have also been discussing the first Thanksgiving and how it is important to reach out to our community during this time. We focused on Thanksgiving and the history of this holiday. We will be continuing to learn many facts about the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Next week, we will use Native American symbols to write our own stories. The students will also learn the lost art of setting a formal dining table. I’m hoping they’ll use their knowledge of place settings nightly! 🙂

Our self-created community maps


We started studying the life cycle of bees. We learned so many facts about these amazing little creatures; ask your child what he or she found to be most interesting about bees! We learned various facts about the hexagonal shaped cells that the bees make in their hives, the three different types of honeybees: drones, workers, and queens, and the different body parts of bees. Did you know that only female bees have stingers? Next up: the lifecycle of spiders!

Teaching Time

We had many interesting teaching times during the past few weeks:

Raj – Stonehenge

Smith – Dodo bird

Ella – Western Diamondback rattlesnake, how to make soap (with samples!)

Leilah – mammals, Scotland

Kenzie – narwhals, alpacas

Celeene – bees, elephants

Campbell – Antartica, how to make slime

Atticus – Dead Sea, hot air balloons

Louisa – Warsaw, blowhole air conditioner

Evan – Old Tucson Studios

Kirra – foxes, Lebanon

Liam – Harry Potter, dinosaurs

Nathan – box jelly, mosasaurus

Aaron – boat anatomy and model

Great job to you all!

Ella’s soap demo

Important Dates

Nov. 20th: noon dismissal

Nov. 27-29: Thanksgiving Holiday, no school

December 5th: Fry’s field trip

Dec. 6th: Holiday book reports due

Dec. 13th: St. Nicholas Day performance, 2:00

Have a great week!



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What Fun We’re Having!


Hello Families and Friends!

Happy November! A lot of excitement took place this week when we celebrated Halloween! Thank you to the many parents who donated items and their time to our Halloween celebration, especially Julie Bowen for the planning and festive decorating! It was seriously the best party ever 🙂 Weren’t the 2B Happy Campers GREAT in the Halloween parade?! This is one of my favorite traditions here at St. Michael’s! And the icing on the cake was seeing my own son in the parade for his first time marching alongside my beloved class 🙂

Party and parade!

The haunted house book report projects were absolutely spectacular! The students chose a variety of books to read and every project is uniquely fun and different. They are all displayed in our room, so please come by and take a look. I can tell the students enjoyed doing this project and they were all so proud to present their work to us. The next project will be a winter holiday themed book report…stay tuned for details 🙂

Proud of our book report projects!


We continued to work on our Halloween/Fall stories from last week’s pre-writing stage. When we finished up publishing our good drafts, we then proudly shared our work during an “author’s chair” session where each author read his or her story to the class. We did this on Halloween day with the lights out and candles lit, just to have an extra special spooky effect! These stories are being kept in our class library for all of our classmates to read, so please feel free to stop by and read a few. 


We started a new theme in reading called “Water for Everyone!” “Where does water come from?” That is the big question we are exploring in this unit. To answer it, we are reading, writing, and talking about the water cycle and water as a natural resource. We read “Frog Brings Rain” by Joseph Bruchac. In this traditional Native American tale, Frog helps First Woman when he turns Water into rain and puts out Fire. We also read “Make Rain” by Mimi Mortezai. This science experiment book demonstrates how rain forms and falls from the sky. In addition to the weekly class stories, we also worked in small groups on leveled readers. We reinforced the correct usage and spelling of the weekly vocabulary and spelling words which were then practiced in the students’ workbooks and later tested through a comprehension and vocabulary test. Some of the current vocabulary words which we are focusing on are: absorb, become, carry, change, cloud, lake, ocean, rain, rise, and sky.


We have been working on words that contain the long a, long o, and long I sounds spelled with the “magic silent e” on the end. In addition to our weekly spelling homework, to practice these different vowel spellings, we read poems, short stories, do workbook pages, and complete word sorts that contain words with these long vowels. As I have said before, the more times the students see these spellings in words, the better they will be at reading and/or spelling them during applied spelling times.


We started a new investigation in our “Attributes of shapes and Parts of a Whole” unit: investigating quadrilaterals, rectangles, and squares. We started by sorting different shapes according to their attributes, discussed the categories of our sorts, then focused finally on sorting by number of sides while making sure to use vocabulary words such as: edges, angle, right angle, faces, quadrilateral, polygon, hexagon, pentagon, congruent, columns, rows, array, and vertices. We examined different quadrilaterals by comparing their angles (right angles vs. not right angles). We were given challenges such as investigating how many different rectangles can be made with a set number of building tiles. This helped us to focus on columns and rows within arrays (which down the line will be a very useful tool when learning multiplication facts, stay tuned for that…). We also started Investigation 3 which focuses on fractions (halves, quarters, and thirds). We will continue with fraction concepts into the next couple of weeks.

Array and Geoboard work


We ended our study about plant life cycles this past week. We talked and read about pollination, photosynthesis, and osmosis. The students really enjoyed our tulip dissection project! We each were given a tulip so we could see all of the reproductive parts of flowers. We learned to identify each part of a flower and what its purpose is by dissecting and by color coding a flower part diagram. We also saw osmosis occur in front of our eyes: we placed celery stalks in red water and left them overnight. The very next day, we saw how the colored water traveled through the veins of the stalks and into the leaves! After this process, transpiration begins (which is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, where it changes to vapor and is released to the atmosphere). This has been a lot of fun to study!

Flower and celery dissection

I have noticed through observation that many of our happy campers are deathly afraid of bees. We are most afraid of things we don’t know much about, so this is the perfect time to learn about the life cycle of bees (goes along with pollination anyhow!). We kicked this unit off with a bee body diagram and reading some informational texts and writing bee facts down in our bee journals. We will continue learning about bees for the next week.

Social Studies

To further our knowledge of our community and its workers, we visited Tucson’s fire station #19 (my husband’s station!)! We were able to see many of the special tools that firefighters use and we also got spray their hose! We were able to see where they sleep, eat, study, and workout. They let us ask all the well thought-out questions we wanted to and we were able to fill out some question forms as well as complete a station scavenger hunt. Thank you to those of you who drove us there: Louisa’s dad, Liam’s mom, Ella’s mom, Kirra’s grandmother, and Raj’s dad! I gave the students a fire flipbook to complete regarding safety tips for the students and their families. Please take time to fill those packets out with your child. I hope the packets create a dialogue for you and your child about fire safety in your own unique home environments.

We have been doing several small group activities where we focus on completing a task while using effective teamwork strategies such as positive communication, asking questions, dividing jobs equitably, staying on task to complete the goal, etc. Teamwork is a big part of the social studies and science grades in the second grade. Also, these are such important skills for life in general, don’t you think? 🙂 We also continued to work on maps and understanding map keys.

Teaching Time

We had many interesting teaching times during the past two weeks:

Raj – trip to Bali

Smith – Frankenstein

Ella – how to do a lattice braid, movie synopsis

Leilah – rocks/minerals, barracudas

Kenzie – Harris’s Hawk, koalas

Celeene – Halloween facts, giraffes

Campbell – science tricks, kitten facts

Atticus – cactus facts, Brazilian wandering spider

Louisa – how to use iMovie, Pangaea

Evan – giant panda facts

Kirra – hurdy gurdy machine, history of the Jack-O-Lantern

Liam – how Nintendo works, Dia de los Muertos history

Nathan – Bermuda Triangle, centipedes

Aaron – Komodo dragons, Aztec warriors

Happy birthday, Raj!

Important Dates

Friday, Nov. 8: Field Day, noon dismissal

Monday, Nov. 11: no school

Looking ahead: December 5th: 2B’s field trip to Fry’s (2A is going separately on the 3rd)

Have a nice weekend! 



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Full Steam Ahead!


Hello Families and Friends!

We have had a great few weeks here in 2B! We are “cooking with gas” after feeling refreshed from Fall Break! My family and I went to Southern California: camped beachside in our trailer on Camp Pendleton, swam in the lovely water amongst dolphins and stingrays, broke my toe on a rock, visited Sea World, and so much more! We all had a blast and from the sounds of it, it seems like you had nice breaks too!

We wanted to thank our lovely room parent, Julie Bowen, for planning a fun Fall/Halloween party for us on the 31st! She has sent a volunteer signup to all 2B parents who would like to join the fun. The party is from 1:00-2:00. The students may wear their costumes to school that day as well. There will be a costume parade beginning at 2:45 that your child may participate in if he or she wishes to do so. All are welcome to watch the parade. The beginning of the route is on the east side of our courtyard where the kindergarteners will begin the march over to the west side, then on through the middle and upper school areas. So cute!

Yesterday, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders were treated to a performance by members of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s wind quintet. We were introduced to the lovely yet different sounds of the bassoon, clarinet, flute, oboe, and French horn. They performed arrangements of “Mission Impossible,” “YMCA,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Yankee Doodle,” “Let it Snow,” “Silent Night,” and “I Got Rhythm.” What a great show!


Today was a wonderful day celebrating with our grandparents and special friends! In our class, we played a couple fun games, interviewed each other, and had a dance party. There was flossing, twisting, sprinklering…quite a sight to see! Much fun was had by all. I left after the festivities were over so I could spend some time with my big brother and his family who flew into town today for his 30 year Salpointe reunion. I will spend the duration of the weekend watching my sons and my nephews run around like crazy people whilst I proceed to give my brother a hard time about “getting a wee bit long in the tooth.” 🙂


We have been working on a variety of sounds: sh, ph, wh, th. Sometimes, knowing when to use these consonant digraphs is tricky, but the more the students work with these odd spelling patterns, the more familiar they will become with some of the “rule breaker” type words. We have also spent some time on studying abbreviations. I wanted the students to see them because we run across them daily and they’re everywhere! The students understand that we are to read the abbreviation as if the whole word is actually there. We understand that there is also a time and a place to use abbreviations…like in a quick note to a friend, but not necessarily in a formal report.

We pretended we were botanists and worked on writing a friendly letter to our non-growing seeds using proper letter-writing formats. We also worked on where and how to place quotation marks to signify a character speaking in our writing. This is a tricky concept, but the students grasped it well. We worked on story sequencing using the words first, next, then, and last. This will help the students to organize their thoughts in a more systematic way when they are asked to write a story or complete a summary and/or book report. Speaking of book reports, the haunted house reports are due on October 25th! Let me know if there are any last minute questions.


We read several interesting selections; one being “Living Lights” by Dr. Dennis Desjardin in which we learned about plants and animals that use light to attract prey, hide, communicate, and reproduce. Another cool selection was “Clever Creatures” by Douglas Florian which included three poems describing animals with special features that help them survive. We have been working on making inferences when we are reading. By definition, an inference is “the process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.” In 2nd grade terms, we take information that we have read, combine that with information that we already know about that fact, then put those two together and formulate an inference based upon these facts. This is a great comprehension strategy and also is helpful in creating a dialogue about a story that your child may be reading at home.


We completed our initial investigations into solving addition and subtraction story problems. During our class lessons, the students learned strategies for understanding, representing, and solving word problems. We shared numerous ways to solve problems and had time do discuss how the different problem solving strategies each student came up with were related to each other.

This week, we started a new investigation: attributes of 2-D and 3-D shapes. So far, the students have enjoyed describing and drawing, sorting, and studying these shapes and their attributes using the following vocabulary words: polygon, features, face, vertices, edges, congruent. This will set the foundation before moving on to learning all of the different polygons, arrays, and equal parts of a whole.

Friendly reminder: please encourage your child to continue working on his or her basic addition and subtraction skills 🙂


We are coming to an end of our unit on studying plants. Our garden in the church yard is looking very…bare. Nothing new has sprouted, and the church-yard bunny has successfully eaten the one last sprout that we had! We talked about how pollination needs to occur in order for there to be growth of new seeds. We will continue learning about pollination, pollinators, and the anatomy of flowers next week. We did, however, discuss how all living things consist of many parts that serve different functions vital for survival such as the different parts of a plant that are consumable by humans and animals: seeds, roots, and leaves. This lead to some wonderful studies about about fruits and vegetables and how we should “eat a rainbow” of foods in order to obtain all of the nutrients we need to benefit our health. We made rainbow collages out of magazines which contained different colored fruits and veggies, and then we learned about what vitamins and health benefits each color of food has. What colors did YOU eat today??

Social Studies

We completed studying the differences between urban, suburban, and rural communities. We are now discovering what a map is and we are learning to use its basic features. We are becoming familiar with the compass rose and with map keys. Through different activities and our social studies text book, we will discover the purpose of maps and we will apply our knowledge in a few processing activities by drawing our own maps.

As part of our community building focus in 2nd grade, we always have a buddy class to participate in community-building projects with. This year, our buddy class is right next door – Mr. Gould and his 3rd graders! Together in mixed teams, we made paper airplane designs then had several flight competitions: distance, height, and speed. All of the kids had a blast and it was wonderful to see them working together and participating in reciprocal teaching. Thank you to Mr. Gould and his wonderful 3rd graders for a great afternoon!

Teaching Time

We had many informational teaching times over the past few weeks!

Raj – human teeth, Indonesian Rupiah

Smith – dogs, Russia

Ella – stars, making tangram shapes

Leilah – the Beatles, bats

Kenzie – Emperor penguins, otters

Celeene – MLK, puffins

Campbell – how to make a scrunchie, Blackbeard

Atticus – the human body, orb web spiders

Louisa – California sea lions and angler fish

Evan – hot dog eating contest, tallest Lego tower

Kirra – dolphins, bunnies

Liam – Civil War, 3-D printers

Nathan – pugs, 2 hour marathon

Aaron – velvet ant

Great job to you all!

Ella making Tangram figures

Leilah presenting on the Beatles

Campbell making a homemade scrunchie

Liam presenting a Civil War model

Happy birthday, Kenzie! 🙂

Important Dates

October 25th: Halloween Book Report due

October 31st: Party 1:00, parade 2:45

November 1: Fire station field trip 8:30am – 10:30am

Happy weekend!


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Fall is Here!


Hello Families and Friends!

It is finally beginning to feel more and more like Fall everyday!  We have had a great few weeks together here in 2B! I am happy to report that our class surpassed our goal of 250 homework tickets and earned our first homework party!  100% of the students in our class contributed to our goal which is awesome! Treats were eaten, games were played, and fun was had by all! Next homework goal: 400 tickets! 🙂

Progress reports will be going home next week. We have been in school for 30 days, so these grades are a collection of both formal and informal assessments to date. If you have any questions on your child’s progress reports, please email me.

Don’t forget that the fall house/haunted house book report is due on Friday, October 25th . Let me know if you have any questions on that fun project.

**And finally, we are in need of magazines/ads/newspapers/flyers with colorful pictures of different fruits and vegetables for a STEM project next week. Please and thank you!**


We have been working on several consonant blends.  I already see a difference in the students’ spelling when they are writing – they are really remembering the spellings of long vowels and words!  They are also using syllables to more accurately sound out and spell longer words. We continue to review the high frequency words of the second grade.  These are words that constantly pop up in our reading and may contain unconventional spellings – like the words because, people, were, their, etc.  Have your child point out nouns and verbs during your nightly reading!


We had a lot of fun in our writing over the past 2 weeks! We started to write full paragraphs using a topic sentence, 3 supporting detail sentences, and one concluding sentence.  Paragraph writing will be our main focus for the next long while. The students  were able to pick any animal and write about its unique camouflaging abilities in paragraph form. We revised and edited our paragraphs and had a great time sharing them in our “author’s chair!”

Author’s Chair time

We also worked on making inferences by doing a fun writing activity: we each drew a picture, then we passed the pictures around, we next used our inference-making skills to write a sentence on back of the picture stating what we thought was was going on. This was a great activity, though I should admit that I basically ripped this idea off from the super-fun party game called “Scribblish” 😉


“What does it take to survive?” That’s the big question we are exploring in this unit. To answer it, we are reading, writing, and talking about animal adaptations and how they help animals get what they need to survive. In our small reading groups, we worked on leveled readers.  We focused on using character voices when we come across quotation marks in our reading.  We worked on locating action and helping verbs in our reading and in our workbooks.  We took a test today which checked comprehension, writing, spelling, and vocabulary skills. A few stories we read were: “Twilight Hunt” by Norelle Oliver where animals use camouflage to hide as a Screech Owl hunts for food, and “Hide and Seek” which is a science article that tells how animals use color, shape, and size to hide in their habitats. Some new vocabulary words that have popped up in our reading are: adaptation, defend, habitat, insects, safe, and survive.


Over the last two weeks, we started and completed a new math investigation: comparing quantities and counting by groups. We worked in a large group setting, partners/small group settings, and independently on the following skills and activities:

-Solving “enough for the class” problems where the students discussed strategies for finding the difference between two quantities.

-Subtraction facts and investigations into whether order matters within this operation.

-Coin equivalencies combined with addition. Ask your child about the “Collect 25/50 cents” game where partners rolled dice, added the dice roll numbers together, and then collected that many cents. The first partner to collect 25/50 cents wins! They would also try to make that amount with fewest coins. Great game which can be played at home!

Collect that money!

-Grouping a set number of cubes into towers of 2s, 5s, and 10s, charting the numbers of whole towers that can be made, while focusing on remainders when different quantities of towers were made. This was challenging but led to some great discussions!

Tower math with remainders

Next up in math: strategies on solving addition and subtraction story problems.



We continued learning about the life cycle of plants. We planted all of our germinating lima beans into the planter outside of Mr. Gould’s classroom (those of us with moldy seeds planted fresh, new ones). Out of 14 seeds…..about 3  sprouted into a pretty decent sized little plants which my leaders will ever so lovingly water very day. This led to some fun writing: we wrote a R.A.F.T. (stands for Role, Audience, Format, Topic).  So, the students pretended they were plant scientists (role) who are unhappy about how most of our science class’s seeds aren’t growing.  They wrote a letter (format) to the seeds (audience) explaining why they should start growing (topic)!! These got quite creative!

Germination!One of the successful ones!

September 26th was Johnny Appleseed Day, so what better day is there to have an apple taste test with different types of apples? We discussed and charted color, texture, and taste differences and talked about how cross-pollination (more to come on that) leads to different variations of fruits.

Social Studies

We are continuing to work on our community unit. We are “building” a whole city ourselves, and are discussing all of the necessities of a healthy and well-functioning community. A large part of the students’ social studies grades are based upon their effectiveness and use of collaborative skills during these types of teamwork activities.

We have also been focusing on three different types of communities: urban, suburban, and rural. We are discovering the similarities and differences between all of these different places.

Job well done on the heritage projects! We discovered that even though we are from different families and cultures, we share many similarities. We learned a lot about each other and our families and I trust that it led to some fun conversations at home.

Proud of our projects

Teaching Time

We had many informational teaching times over the past few weeks!

Raj – taught a magic card trick, human eye

Smith – quarter collection, grandfather’s history

Ella – cheetah facts, magic tricks

Leilah – biography of Shel Silverstein, American Sign Language

Kenzie – world’s largest puzzle, wolf spiders

Celeene – hermit crabs, horses

Campbell – Thailand

Atticus – fox facts, outer space

Louisa – how to make a mandala, beluga whales

Evan – his father’s flying history, stamping with markers

Kirra – owls, King Tut

Liam – Titanic, Weird Al

Nathan – being double jointed, history of Halloween

Aaron – scorpions, D-Day

Raj and his magic card trick

Leilah presenting on a favorite author

Cool stamp art demo by Evan


Important Dates

October 7-11: Fall break

Tuesday, Oct. 15th: Blessing of the animals mass – each student can bring a stuffed animal to have blessed

Friday, Oct. 18th: Grandparent’s day 8-10:30am

Friday, Oct. 25: Halloween book report due



In height order for picture day!

Fun at the Murphy-Wilmot Library

Rainy day recess shenanigans

Newest addition to our class: a lovely rocking chair handed down to us by our dear friend in KA, Ms. Walrath!


Thank you and have a nice weekend!


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Back to School Night Information


Hello everyone! Thank you to those of you who could attend our Back to School Night information evening. For those of you who could not make it, below you will find all of the information that was presented that evening. But first, a few quick pictures from this week:

All dressed up for picture day!

Good Roxy

Sneaky Roxy

Have a good weekend!



Second Grade Back to School Night Info:


About Ms. O’Meara: I was born and reared here in Tucson. I attended Saints Peter and Paul Elementary School and Salpointe Catholic High School. Because of many special and talented teachers that I was lucky enough to experience in my schooling, I knew from a very young age that I wanted to choose a career in education! I obtained degrees in education and music from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. I taught first grade in Los Angeles for five years while coordinating the gifted and talented program for my school, being a master teacher for college education students, and leading training sessions for new teachers and district interns. After deciding that the daily chaos in Los Angeles was no longer for me, I moved back to Tucson and used my abilities in training and management to try my hand in the business and sales world. After three successful years, I realized that I missed the education arena tremendously and I could not wait to get back into teaching! This is my 17th year of teaching (including both classroom teaching and private piano lessons) and it is my 8th year here at St. Michael’s and I just love it! This school has always had a great reputation within the Tucson community and I feel very blessed to be teaching here! Together, we will make this a successful and enjoyable year for all of the students in the 2nd grade!

About Mrs. Pena: I was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona. I attended A.J. Mitchell Elementary, Wade Carpenter Middle School, and graduated from Nogales High School. I studied elementary education, sociology, and Spanish Literature for Children at the University of Arizona. My first years in teaching were at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Nogales, Az. After 3 years, I married my husband, Oscar, and we moved to Seattle where he received his specialty in endodontics from the University of Washington. While in Seattle, I taught preschool for two years. We then moved back to Tucson to be closer to our families, start our own family, and my husband began his own practice.  I have been a long time member of the Angel Charity, I am the 2019-2020 Tucson Symphony Cotillion Ball chair, and I, along with my oldest daughter Sofia, are members of the National Charity League for Mothers and Daughters. Both of my daughters, Sofia (now a junior at Salpointe) and Kamila (current STM 6th grader), attended St. Michael’s School and I always knew that if I was lucky enough to rejoin the teaching force, St. Michael’s was the one and only school for me! I not only enjoy teaching my students every day, but I just love to see them grow academically and socially!

Ms. O’Meara’s Goals: Education is a life-long process. My mission is to encourage, support, and develop each student’s intellectual, social, and moral journey towards becoming a successful and productive member of our society. In addition to “treat others as you wish to be treated yourself,” my motto personally and for my class is: be the example, don’t be made the example of.

Mrs. Pena’s Goals: My goal for my students is to work hard, ask questions, and use as many hands-on activities for each subject to engage the students in their learning. We will help one another out and we will encourage one another in every aspect of our daily learning. We are in charge of ourselves, and we need to be aware of the effects of our own actions, words, and thoughts. We will learn something new each day and we will share new ideas and finish each day with a positive thought of what we learned that day.



Working with Words: Helps to ensure that the students read, spell, and use high-frequency words correctly, and that they learn the patterns necessary for decoding and spelling. We will be practicing these skills using various activities in large and small group settings, and will be monitored through weekly spelling tests.

Guided Reading: Helps to build comprehension and fluency with reading, and to introduce students to a variety of literature, such as stories, informational text, decodable text, and poetry. This will be done in large and small group settings, ranging in appropriate levels of difficulty. Comprehension will be monitored through tests and the completion of book reports in the forms of written and oral presentations.

Writing: We will build fluency in writing, refine and apply knowledge of phonics, practice proper grammar and punctuation, build students’ confidence as writers, and utilize the Six Traits of Writing (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions) which will help develop all skills needed for good writing. We will also be using penmanship workbooks to ensure proper letter formation and neatness in our written work.


We work in small and whole group settings using various manipulatives to aid further understanding of skills. We will be working on the following skills: addition and subtraction, concepts of multiplication, and division, place value, problem solving, greater and less than, fractions, money value, rounding to the nearest ten and hundred, measurement, time telling, and geometric shapes and their attributes. Throughout the math curriculum and group activities, the following educational aspects will be present: active learning for strong concept development, effective practice opportunities that reinforce concepts, an emphasis on problem solving, and reasoning skills that support mathematical thinking.


The 2nd grade will focus on many areas in life, earth, and physical science. In particular, we will be exploring the areas of plants, states of matter, weather, and basic nutrition. We will use several avenues of investigation: experiments, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. We will use the scientific method to enhance and solidify our learning.

Social Studies/Geography

In addition to social studies lessons that automatically derive out of our reading program, the students will be learning all about many people and places in the city and country. Our big focuses in the second grade are community and mapping. We will be taking some field trips to explore different aspects of what comprises a community. We will also be studying the history of St. Michael’s and the history of our surrounding neighborhood.

Behavior plan

Our classroom behavior plan revolves around being a good friend to others. Our school’s motto is “treat others the way you would like to be treated.” The various ways of treating each other as a friend includes several things such as: minding our manners, saying “good friend words” like “please” and “excuse me,” sharing, taking turns, not interrupting, following directions, working together, and listening. We are a team and a family, we are together for the whole day, and we will work together to make things as peaceful and enjoyable as possible.

We do not believe in giving extrinsic rewards like candy or stickers. Rather, the students will be rewarded with praise and appreciation; the real reward is intrinsic – the students will feel good, proud, and confident. If we “catch” a student being a good friend and following directions, that student may put his or her name on a raffle ticket and place in into our “That’s What I Like To See” jar. We have to “catch” the student being a good friend by habit, not just because he or she knows that we am looking at that particular moment. The students may also report good deeds that others have done for them as well. A student’s name can be entered into the jar as many times as they are “caught” being a good friend. Every Monday, we will randomly pull two names out of the jar. These two students become my leaders for the week – basically they are out “mini-teachers.” They will pass out papers, go to the office, lead the lines, act as “recess reporters,” etc.

If a student fails to follow directions or is not being a good friend, he or she will be given two clear choices: choose to fix the behavior, or choose a time-out. If the behavior persists, even after a time-out, the student will stay in for part of their lunch recess for “recess academy” where he or she will practice the correct behavior. Of course if the degree of the offense is more serious than regular classroom disruption or typical 2nd grade misbehavior, the penalty will be more rigorous, i.e. missing all playtime for a day, writing a note home to be signed by the parents, missing a fun project, etc. We do not anticipate having extreme problems; however, if they do occur, you will be notified immediately. We can then discuss the student’s behavior and how we can work together to remedy the issue.

It is extremely important that you talk to your child nightly about any difficulties that may have occurred that day at school. This will help him or her to become a problem-solver and also understand how issues occur and how to avoid them.




Research increasingly shows that an overwhelming amount of homework in the early grades can produce negative results. Families today have increasingly less time to spend together due to work, school, and extracurricular schedules. The homework overload along with the time shortage has proven to result in negative feelings towards school, family and student frustration, and poor self images amongst students.The recommended amount of homework for elementary students is 10 minutes per grade level; therefore, 2nd graders are expected to realistically be responsible for no more than 20 minutes of nightly homework in addition to at least 20 minutes of reading (including independent and/or shared reading).

To combat this growing problem, the 2nd grade has started a new weekly homework system which includes 2 mandatory assignments (one spelling and one math) and 3 student choice assignments. Our homework system includes incentive tickets (students are not punished for not doing homework; in fact, they earn chances for a collective class reward by choosing to do the work) and it saves time (the choices offered are brief, hands-on, and largely open-ended explorations with opportunities for self-challenge which will eliminate frustration and encourage empowered learning!) The students DO have the choice to complete the “choice assignments;” however, we of course encourage them to complete each one and have tried hard to make the choices fun, different, and meaningful with the opportunity for challenge/extension. On occasion, there will be a few long-term book report/project assignments sent home throughout the year.

These weekly homework assignments are given out on Monday and are to be returned the following Monday. Students should be responsible to bring homework to school themselves instead of being reminded or having a parent pack it into their backpacks. “Teaching time” is also considered a weekly revolving assignment in Ms. O’Meara’s class. Please refer to the schedule that Ms. O’Meara sent home to make sure that you have your child’s teaching time day calendared each week! Mrs. Pena’s “Show and Tell” is a homework assignment that takes place every Monday. Please check Mrs. Pena’s blog to see when your child’s turn to present is.


You are more than welcome to come by the room and lend a helping hand. The best times to volunteer your services are during reading time in the morning, field trips, and during special projects/events. We will post sign-up sheets outside the room with days and special events where your assistance will be needed. Your help will be greatly appreciated!

In addition to helping out in our classroom, if you have any talent or special service that you would like to share with the students, please feel free to talk to us about it! We would be honored to have you share your talents with us!

Birthday Celebrations

On a student’s birthday (or half-birthday, for those summer babies!), he or she may bring a treat for the class. However, an idea that we have enjoyed doing in the past is that the birthday boy or girl can pick a special person to come in to read a book to the class that day. Either choice is wonderful; we just ask for you to let us know what your child would like to do and we can arrange a time/day that works for everyone’s schedule.

How to Reach Ms. O’Meara and Mrs. Pena

Communication between ourselves and the parents is very important to us. Please feel free to contact us about any questions or concerns that you may have. If needed, we can arrange a time to meet together. If calling the school, Ms. O’Meara’s voicemail number is 253. Also, you may contact her by email at Mrs. Pena’s school voicemail number is 246 is and her email is


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News from Camp Wanna-Learn-A-Lot


Hello Families and Friends!

We have had a busy couple of weeks here in 2B! Since we are talking about communities and what communities need in order to function, if anybody knows a doctor, police officer, business owner, etc. who can come to school (or let both 2nd grades visit them) to talk to us about how they help the community, please let me know!


In a large group setting, we studied several non-fiction stories which spoke about how communities work together in order to achieve a goal that will make life better for everyone around. “Be My Neighbor,” by Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko, is a photo-essay which shows neighborhoods around the world and how people live together in them. “My Favorite Place” is an Internet bulletin board story where different students from around the country wrote in to tell about favorite places in their communities. In our small reading groups, we worked on trying to make our diction more clear when reading aloud.  We also worked on locating possessive and proper nouns in our reading and in our workbooks. Some of the vocabulary words that we worked into our reading and writing lessons over the past few weeks were: area, building, identify, library, locate, and population.

At the end of each week, the students are tested on the reading comprehension, grammar, writing, spelling, and vocabulary skills that were taught throughout the week.


We have been working hard on several different vowel sounds.  As we know, these many vowel sounds are spelled in a variety of ways (English is crazy!)  One way to remember the long vowel spelling pattern when two vowels are together (as in ‘ai’),  I always say, “when two vowels are together, the first one does the talking, and the second one does the walking,” meaning that you hear the long A sound and the I is silent. Please continue to encourage your child to use his or her sounding out and proofreading skills when completing his or her homework!



We worked on several different writing strategies during the past two weeks.  One strategy focused on using more adjectives in our sentences.  We practiced this numerous ways, but the favorite way was by writing a “guess who” list where we wrote sentences with several adjectives describing ourselves in the form of clues. We then crumpled up our papers and had a “snowball fight” which allowed us to anonymously trade papers. We then shared them with the class  and according to the adjectives used, we tried to make guesses as to who the author was. This was super fun and I’m sure the kids will be trying to think of other ways to have snowball fights in our class 🙂   We also have been challenging ourselves by writing stories using random words from phonics word sorts in our reading workbooks.

“Snowball fight!”


The past couple of weeks have been busy mathematically, but FUN! We have been working on developing addition and subtraction fluency with numbers 0-20 by using “number strings” (ask your child what those are), and by grouping addends in different ways to make adding easier (i.e. making a 10, adding doubles, breaking down numbers into smaller addends, etc.). A fun math game we have been playing on our white boards to develop number sense within 100 is called “Guess my number.” Ask your child how we play that and what types of math questions they ask in order to decipher the teacher’s secret number. Another game we played was called “How Many Pockets.” This game showed us that we can count quantities in numerous ways and represent that counting data in various forms such as charts, tallies, pictures, number strings, etc. Another game was was an addition and subtraction game which involved pairs of students rolling number cubes, dice, and creating their own number strings to either add or subtract. And the favorite game: “Beat the Calculator!” One partner was figuring out a flashcard with a number string while the other partner figured out the problem on a calculator: whoever figured out the answer first got to keep the flashcard! Working under pressure = such a great skill to practice for LIFE! Yes, math is fun and there are countless (get it…COUNTless haha) games to play, but we also practice these skills individually in our workbooks as well as have opportunities during discussion times to share our thinking and mathematical reasoning. There are always more than one way to arrive at answers in math; being able to explain how an answer was achieved is the key to mathematic success!

Addition Bingo

Beat the Calculator!

Social Studies

We are continuing to work on our community unit.  The past two weeks, we have been planning and building our own models of communities.  We created our community ideas in small groups and we are in the process of building them and pulling them all together to make one big city!   In the coming weeks, we will be assessing our city to see if there’s anything that we need to add in order to enable the communities to function properly.  We are also working very hard on knowing the cardinal directions (NSEW)! I hope the students are enjoying working on their family tree/heritage projects and I hope it has led to a fun dialogue between you and your child about your family history. I always loved hearing my own parents tell stories of their parents and grandparents.  I look forward to seeing all the finished products on September 20th!

What should we include on our community maps?


We continued learning about the life cycle of plants!   We dissected a lima bean to see what was on the inside of a seed (have your child tell you his or her discoveries!).  We also created “greenhouses in baggies” where we placed lima beans with a wet paper towel inside a baggie and then hung them outside on the poles in the breezeway.  After about 2 days, most of the seeds should germinate (hey, ask your child what “germination” means!) and some should even grew shoots…we’ll just have to wait and observe to see what happens next!  We understand that not all of our seeds will grow (variances in sunlight and how wet their paper towels were, etc.), but we know that science is at times not perfect and/or uniform! We plan to plant these sprouted beans in the planter outside of Mrs. Stalkfleet’s class and see how far we go in the plant life cycle! Warning: there is a rogue “church yard bunny” who ate all of our plants last year.

Dissecting seeds

Social Skills

We read an excellent Scholastic Newspaper this past week about kindness vs. bullying which led to wonderful idea sharing and discussions on our treatment of those around us. We have had several talks so far this year about exclusion and how that feels. We have come up with many great ways of being inclusive in class and especially out on the playground.

Renaissance Testing

Our “standardized” Renaissance testing was completed this past week. Students in the 2nd grade take both a literacy and a math test. We use these initial assessments to identify student competency and to guide instruction. Renaissance is a computer adaptive test, which means the test adapts to each answer a student provides. Students will be taking these tests three times this year – September, January, and May. The students get a kick out of taking these tests because they are done on the ipads…unlike the days of yore 😉

Concentrating on our iPad tests!



As you know, we revised our homework system this year for the first time since 2008 and moved to a choice-based system. After four weeks of homework assignments, we have combined some recent parental insight along with our own observations as educators and have decided to make some changes to better fit our students’ needs:

  1. “Unhomework” will now be referred to as “homework” in an effort to help students take it more seriously.
  2. The current spelling list will be included each week.
  3. At least one assignment will include some sort of required spelling word activity.
  4. At least one assignment will include required math practice/enrichment.
  5. The “100 Book Club” will now be replaced by a weekly reading log where the children will include the title/author of the book and how many pages/minutes were covered daily. This different type of reading log will encourage all students to enjoy reading books at their own individual levels without having the worry of reaching a set quota.

As always, the homework will be sent home Monday and is to be returned the following Monday. The students DO have the choice to complete the “choice assignments;” however, we of course encourage them to complete each one and have tried hard to make the choices fun, different, and meaningful with the opportunity for challenge/extension. We hope these revisions will yield the effective results we intend for them to have.

Teaching Time

We had some great presentations over the past couple of weeks:

Raj – futsal rules

Smith – trilobite facts

Ella – how to make a rainbow loom bracelet, how to draw a duck

Leilah – how to make a wooden car, Misty Copland

Kenzie – how to make pearler bead creations, Maine Coon cat facts

Celeene – dolphin facts, Obama

Campbell – how to throw and catch a baseball, how to build Lego creations

Atticus – how to make bouncy balls, how chalk reels work

Louisa – how to draw 3-D shapes, how to make an origami balloon

Evan – Bearizona, Sonoran Desert toad facts

Kirra – raccoon facts

Liam – how to make an origami dog, history of M&Ms

Nathan – chess rules, history of the Happy Birthday song

Aaron – bloodhound facts, Area 51

Great job, everyone!!

Aaron’s Area 51 model!

Louisa teaching the class origami



Important dates:

Tuesday, September 17: Class picture day (red shirts and khaki bottoms please)

Wednesday, Sept. 18: Noon dismissal, individual picture day (free dress)

Thursday, Sept. 19: Bach to school night, 6-7:30p

Friday, Sept. 20: Welcome Back fun event, 5-8p, heritage project due!

Happy birthday, Nate!

Apostles 🙂

Happy weekend!


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Camp Wanna-Learn-A-Lot is in Full Swing!


Hello Everyone!

We have had a very exciting first 2 weeks here at St. Michael’s in the second grade! It was wonderful to meet you all during our intake conferences. I can already tell that we have a great group of involved parents on our team. I wanted to thank Ella’s mom, Julie Bowen, for volunteering to be 2B’s room parent. And, thank you to all of YOU, the parents, for your support at home during these first couple weeks of school! All of the students have adjusted well and (besides the heat) everyone seems very comfortable in 2nd grade.


“What is a community?” That is the big question we are exploring in this language arts unit. To answer it, we are reading, writing, and talking about the people and places that make our neighborhoods special. In a large group setting, we have studied several short stories regarding our community and what makes a community thrive.“Quinito’s Neighborhood,” by Ina Cumpiano,” is a realistic fiction story where the main character, Quinito, tells about his family and friends and the jobs they do. “Working Her Way Around the World” is a photo-essay by Explorer Annie Griffiths Belt which shows people around the world working at their jobs. These stories created much room for personal connections, discussion, and reflective writing. In our small reading groups, we worked on leveled readers which reinforced the topic of life in a community. Also in small groups, we reinforced the reading and spelling of the weekly vocabulary and spelling words which were also practiced in the workbooks and then tested through a comprehension and vocabulary test.


We have been reviewing all of the short vowels.  We continue to reinforce spelling patterns by making rhymes with same-vowel spellings and completing word sorts.  We are still practicing our sounding-out skills (ask your child to show you how to “bubblegum stretch” a word or “rock it out”) and we will be working on locating words in the dictionary (which can be practiced at home too!). Since we have absorbed all spelling work to be completed in-class, be sure to check out your child’s pretest and post test every Friday! We practice our spelling lists in various ways including word and sentence dictation with self-editing work, ABC order, simple spelling word art projects, and mini spelling bees. It has been lots of fun for us in class while yielding some pretty great results!


We have done much reflective writing on the topic of community. Also, we are continuing to practice our proofreading skills – a skill that even adults have to do (or should do!) on an everyday basis. We are working on creating longer, more descriptive and interesting sentences rather than simple 4-5 word sentences. 


We will be using our scientific method skills of making predictions, testing, analyzing, and synthesizing results as we venture into the exciting topic of plants!  We will start this unit by bringing in something from home that comes from a plant. That homework will be going home next week.  There will be lots of fun ahead while we study the lifecycle of plants!


We have truly enjoyed our new hands-on math curriculum! Our big focus during the past couple of weeks has been understanding and extending the counting sequence and fluency within 20 (basic facts). Our class sessions have included using number lines and hundreds charts, counting sets of 100 objects, counting quantities in more than one way (grouping), identifying coins and dollar bills and understanding their values, combining coins to equal certain amounts, skip counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s, developing and analyzing visual images for quantities up to 20, telling time to the half hour, basic fact fluency, and using known facts to add two or more numbers. I have been extremely proud of the math discussions that have taken place during our sessions. One important fact that has become clear to all of us is: there is always more than one way to solve a math problem! If you have some good old fashioned flashcards to solidify those 0-12 addition and subtraction math facts and would like to practice at home, that would be a welcome idea!

How many ways can we make 10? 100?Fill a Shape!Connect 5 with addends

Social Studies

We have been studying the topic of “community.”  Through reading multiple texts and discussing our community, we are becoming more aware of our surroundings and what is necessary in order for a community to function properly.  We will be working in small groups on building our own communities. Currently, the small groups are in the pre-planning stages where they have been practicing communicating effectively with each other to come up with lists of businesses, buildings, etc. they feel are important to include in their communities. Next week, in the spirit of acknowledging that there are many different cultures within a single community, I will be sending home a family tree/heritage project packet. I always found it fascinating as a child to sit down with my parents and learn more about my ancestors; my hope is the students of 2B will love these special family discussions too. This project is due on Friday, September 20th.


Teaching Time

We are practicing our oral presentation skills daily on our designated “teaching time” days.  As I have said before, I would like the students to prepare and teach something to the class during their teaching time.  A few examples of some great things that we learned from our friends:

Raj – how to earn soccer medals

Smith – kiwi bird facts

Ella – duck facts

Leilah – how to earn swim team trophies

Kenzie – how to maintain an at-home aquarium

Celeene – tiger facts

Campbell – owl facts

Atticus – tarantula facts

Louisa – how to crochet

Evan – Harlem Globe Trotters

Kirra – USA facts

Liam – rhinoceros facts

Nathan – how to play lacrosse

Aaron – creatures from the Mariana Trench

We learned a lot of interesting new bits of information from each other!

Teaching Time visual aid by our new friend Kirra

Important Announcements/Dates

Monday, Sept. 2nd: no school
Wednesday, Sept. 18th: noon dismissal
Thursday, Sept. 19th: Back to School Night!
Thank you all for a great beginning of a successful year!

Ms. O’Meara 🙂

Watercolor paintings based upon the book Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews

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First Day at Camp Wanna-Learn-A-Lot


Hello everyone! It was a wonderful day meeting all of my amazing and special new students. I’m looking forward to a fun and successful year ahead!


Here are some cute pictures from our day! 

Working at our table groups. Which table does your child sit at? The hedgehog table, owl table, or fox table?

Sittin’ round the campfire at our small group meeting place!

We survived the day! HOORAY!


Have a nice weekend!


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