Owney The Dog Goes to School
The Smithsonian Institute announces the release of new curriculum at its annual Teachers’ Night.
Posted: November 3, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT
The 60-page full-color curriculum guide features four different units that use the story of Owney the Dog to meet reading, writing, math, social studies, science and art standards. The lessons are designed to provide inspiring and meaningful interdisciplinary experiences in classrooms from kindergarten through third grade.
Owney, a scruffy terrier-mix, became a regular fixture at the Albany, N.Y., post office in 1888, riding with the mail bags across the country. In 1895, Owney even made an around-the-world trip, traveling with mailbags on trains and steamships to Asia and across Europe. The RPO clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot, marking his travels by placing medals and tags from his stops on his collar.
The curriculum guide features four themed interdisciplinary units on mapping, autobiography, jobs and primary sources. Targeted towards second grade learning standards, these lessons combine to illustrate the life and legacy of Owney the Postal Dog. The curriculum is developed in tandem with Owney-themed technology tools, including an e-book and an augmented reality postage stamp. Also accompanying the curriculum are worksheets, rubrics and companion lessons for students with special education needs.
“Kids connect with Owney because dogs are still around nowadays, whereas other aspects of history have changed and advanced over the years—they ‘get’ him,” said Alexandra Roosenburg, learning and technology coordinator for the Primary Campus/Washington International School. “Having a mascot like Owney for the students to interact and identify with when learning about U.S. history and geography makes learning more fun, and thereby worth their while!”
A special online microsite has been created for the Owney curriculum and resides on the museum’s main website. The site features a downloadable curriculum guide for teachers, which includes units on maps, jobs, tags and stories. Worksheets, rubrics and other resources are also available on the site. The museum makes other teacher resources available on the museum’s recently redesigned website for educators.
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