Project Mickey Curriculum

As promised, here’s the curriculum draft for Project Mickey; its a really boiled-down outline. (Before you read through it, if you haven’t read the Project Mickey background information, scroll to the bottom of this page and read it.)

Remember that the fundamental crux of the program is its experiential nature. In every instance possible the lessons are tied to personal experience. For instance, where students are working to identify the basic needs of dogs, the feeling-words introduced in the first lesson can be used to recall a time when a basic need wasn’t met for the student, and how that loss made the student feel. The sentiment that “I was hungry and so I felt sad” can easily be self-related and then associated with a hungry puppy. In addition, the ability for students to physically and emotionally connect in positive ways with the dogs allows space for evolved empathy toward animals. To understand the effectiveness of these learning experiences we’re attempting to measure students’ attitudes toward animals, and toward one another, through pre and post tests.

Overarching (Draft) Objectives:

  • Enable students to develop positive associations with animals (pit bulls in particular)
  • Help students learn to value themselves and one another
  • Empower students with tools and information that enable them to advocate for pit bulls and other animals in their communities

Heidi Moore, Baltimore City Public Schools Psychologist
Kate Callahan, Jasmine’s House Co-Founder
Catalina Stirling, Jasmine’s House Co-Founder and Animal Behaviorist

Meghan Longhurst, Trainer
Val Lewis and Ghost Jasmine’s House Adopter/CGC Adoptee, and Baltimore Community Members
Guest 3 Handler and CGC candidate TBD

Lesson One 4/16: Introduction to Program, Empathy Building and Feeling Vocabulary
Objective 1 – Students will listen to the story of Mickey and identify what it may have been like to be Mickey.
Objective 2 – Students will listen to the story of Audie and discuss related questions.
Activities: Students will view video footage of Mickey and hear about her story and how she inspired this program. Working in small groups and using a word bank of feelings vocabulary, students will identify what Mickey may have been feeling by identify feeling vocabulary that would be appropriate for the situation (scared, confused, hurt, sad, etc) Students will discuss whether they think animals have feelings and why they think that. Journal: Students will choose to draw a picture or write a short paragraph about what they’ve learned in this lesson story. They may choose to write about how Audie’s life changed throughout the story, how Audie may have been feeling throughout the story or why second chances are important.

Lesson Two 4/18: Communication and Safety
Guest: Meghan Longhurst
Objective 1: Students will be able to identify the basic needs of dogs, including: Food, Water, Shelter, Exercise, Training, Medical Care, Love
Objective 2: Students will be able to identify ways that dogs communicate
Objective 3: Students will be able to identify how to be safe when interacting with unfamiliar animals.
Activities: Students will compete in a family-feud style game show to show off what they’ve learned. They’ll continue to work in their journals.
Picture Book: Students will compare behaviors that are safe and those that are unsafe when
interacting with dogs. Students will learn about nonverbal behavior and show ways in which they can
respond safely to nonverbal behavior in dogs. Students will create a picture book to communicate their
knowledge to younger students.

4/23 Lesson Three: Myths and Misconceptions
Guests: Val & Ghost, Meghan Longhurst
Objective 1: Students will be able to identify pit bulls from other breeds
Objective 2: Students will be able to identify facts and myths about Pit Bulls
Objective 3: Students will listen to the story of a woman who adopted a Pit Bull and ask appropriate questions regarding her experience.
Activities: Students will circle the dog(s) on a worksheet that are pit-bull-type dogs or sort pictures into examples and nonexamples of pitbulls. Students will have an index card. On one side they will write MYTH and on the other FACT. Students will listen to a series of statements and indicate whether they think it is a MYTH or FACT by holding up cards. Miss Val will talk about why she adopted a dog, why she chose to adopt a pit bull, Ghost, what is he like? She’ll talk about times people have treated Ghost unfairly and how she handled that.
Journal: At the beginning of class students will write or draw about how they feel toward Ghost. At the end of class they will illustrate how they feel about him now.

Session Four 4/25: Good Training Equals Good Pets
Guest: Megan Longhurst and Guest 3.
Objective 1: To understand the need for pet owners to properly train and socialize their animals.
Objective 2: Students will be able to identify pet owners’ responsibility for their animals’ behavior.
Activity: Students will describe, dramatize, and discuss solutions to problems caused by untrained pets. Megan will speak to the students about her job and how she trains dogs
She may wish to cover common pet behavioral problems that prompt her involvement; examples of things she has taught dogs to do; things to do and not do when training a dog.
Journal: Students will write about things that they should and should not do when training dogs, tricks they would like to teach their pet or a time when a dog did something wrong and how they should have handled it.

Lesson Five 4/30: Training a Dog
Guest: Megan Longhurst & Puppies
Objective 1: Students will continue to learn about how to humanely train a dog with the help of a dog trainer using puppies.
Activity: Students will have ground rules for interacting with the dog reviewed prior to the dog’s arrival. Students will work with a dog trainer to learn more about training animals and will take an active role in teaching the dog a new trick.
Journal: Students will add to their journal by writing or drawing on something new they’ve learned today, can you teach an old dog new tricks? What advice would you give to someone who wants to train their dog? What are the steps in training a dog?

Lesson Six 5/2: Animal Abuse
Guest: Blind Jack
Objective 1: Students will be able to identify reasons why people abuse animals
Objective 2: Students will be able to identify behaviors that are abusive to animals
Objective 3: Students will learn about Jack’s story and where he came from
Activity: Given behaviors or examples of situations, students will be able to put them into the correct category for different types of abuse.
Journal: Students will use what they have learned and write or draw about one of the following topics:
What are the ways that a person can abuse/mistreat animals?
What have you learned about the way to treat animals?
How will you change about how you treat your pet or other animals?
Write a story from the perspective of Jack based on what you know about him. Talk about how they felt before and how they feel now.

Lesson Seven 5/7: Dog Fighting
Guests: Meghan Longhurst, Guest 3
Objective 1: Students will learn about Sweet Jasmine from Catalina’s perspective and experience
Objective 2: Students will learn about dog fighting as a type of animal abuse
Objective 3: Students will be able to identify that it is inhumane and illegal
Objective 4: The students will understand consequences of dog fighting: harmful to people, is illegal, and leads to bites or serious injury to animals
Activity: Given scenarios and working in small groups, students will act out situations that involve animal abuse and how they would respond. Scenarios can be the same ones described in the previous lesson or new ones created by the students. After sharing their skit, students will be asked to discuss whether the group came up with a good way to handle that situation, and discuss other ways to handle it.
Journal: Students will write or draw about animal abuse/cruelty. Examples of topics include:
What is one thing you have learned about abuse of animals?
What do you think about dog fighting?
How do you plan to handle situations where you see or hear about animal abuse in the future?

Lesson Eight 5/9: Advocacy
Guests: Meghan Longhurst, Val and Ghost
Objective 1: Students will use what they have learned to teach others about dog fighting and abuse.
Activity: Students will illustrate their plans for advocacy by making a poster, writing a poem, writing a rap or a song, writing a letter to other kids about how to treat animals, creating wrap up picture books, writing letters to the mayor, creating videos, writing poetry, planning bake sales to raise funds for dogs, etc.
Journal: The most important thing I’ve learned through Project Mickey is:
The one thing I want others to know is:

5/16 Final Presentation
Parents/siblings and other community figures invited to an afterschool presentation in the school auditorium. Each student will have an opportunity to share what they have learned, and their projects. Displays of journals, art work, letters, etc. Viewing of video of pre-program and post-program interviews and other footage.
Presentation of certificates and honoring of volunteers (if they are able to attend)

Project Mickey: A pilot youth outreach partnership between Jasmine’s House, Inc, and Baltimore City Public Schools

We are aiming to run the pilot this spring over 8 sessions in 4 weeks.
By creating a physically and emotionally safe, experiential learning space that allows space for greater empathy and increased self esteem, the youth outreach program aspires to achieve these objectives for its participant children:

  • Enable kids to develop positive associations with animals (pit bulls in particular)
  • Help kids learn to value themselves and one another
  • Empower kids with tools and information to enable them to advocate for pit bulls in their communities

*These are draft objectives, and will adjust slightly as we work through curriculum development.

Children in late elementary school still demonstrate an openness to learning about the dogs they see so frequently in their communities, so we’re taking advantage of the window of opportunity before the onset of puberty to facilitate positive and enriched interactions between the kids and our dogs in a safe space after school. We feel its important to reach them while they still naturally identify with animals and before their perceptions about humanity and its canine counterparts are more solidified.

We all know that abused and neglected children often turn their hurt around to abuse others smaller than themselves. By allowing a safe space for empathy and learning with the dogs we hope to turn them into their protectors and advocates instead of their abusers. We believe that the unconditional love and non-judgmental attitudes the dogs offer will reach these kids more deeply and effectively than we can as people. As the children learn to love and understand the dogs through a series of experiential learning sessions, we hope that they will simultaneously learn to love and understand a part of themselves.

We also believe that the program will provide a healing experience for some of these children. They’ll have the opportunity to meet and interact with abused dogs that have recovered and are thriving as Canine Good Citizen therapy dogs. We hope that the interactions allow them to identify and relate to the pain of the animals and associate themselves with the ability to overcome and remain kind. The dogs should become role models to the children when they see how the dogs have learned to forgive and overcome their painful pasts. Hopefully this will teach them to respect and protect even the smallest and weakest among us, and instill an irreversible self-confidence in them.

In the end, we aim to teach them to care for animals, and each other without actually telling them that they should do so.

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