Teacher honored for online safety plan

Avondale Meadows Upper Elementary science teacher Laura AmatulliAvondale Meadows Upper Elementary science teacher Laura Amatulli smiles as she stands in her classroom, which was redone by designer Vanessa Deleon. Amatulli won the makeover for her creative lesson in Internet safety.Sixth-graders in teacher Laura Amatulli’s class are going to be safer on the computer, thanks to a lesson plan she created.

Students are also going to be surprised when they enter Amatulli’s Avondale Meadows Upper Elementary classroom when school starts Sept. 4, because their

Avondale Meadows Upper Elementary science teacher Laura Amatulli smiles as she stands in her classroom, which was redone by designer Vanessa Deleon. Amatulli won the makeover for her creative lesson in Internet safety.

teacher won a $10,000 classroom makeover by a New York designer in a national contest.

The lesson plan Amatulli created to teach children about Internet security made her a national grand prize winner in the Honeywell and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Got 2B Safe! Awards Program. It recognizes teachers who are committed to keeping children safe from abduction and sexual exploitation.

“I have children of my own,” said Amatulli, an Auburn Hills resident who has been at Avondale schools seven years and was delighted this week watching the designer at work in her classroom.

“Much of children’s socialization today is on the Internet,” Amatulli said. “When I was a kid, I came home and played with friends. Now children go home and talk to their friends on the Internet. I really saw a need for a foundation on Internet safety.”

The teacher’s desire to teach Internet safety comes in a time when adults are infiltrating chat rooms or e-mail addresses used by children. They ask for personal information, try to talk youths into meeting them, or coerce some into sending inappropriate photos over the Web. Police departments have created task forces dedicated to protecting children from pedophiles who seek children on the Internet.

“My students frequent chat rooms and communicate with Instant Messenger nightly,” Amatulli said.

In her search for ideas to promote Internet safety, Amatulli found the Got 2 B Safe! competition on the Honeywell Web site. It requires four safety rules be a key part of any entry by teachers around the country.

“They are easy rules kids can recognize quickly,” she said.

“I took the Honeywell idea and incorporated it in a lesson plan. Before the children get on the Internet to do any research, we talk about safety first and they create their own public service announcements on Internet safety; what to report and who to report it to.

“They totally understand and they are very receptive.”

After explaining the rules, the teacher also cites a scenario and asks the students what they would do. For example, a student is in a chat room and one of the Ôgirls’ she has met on the Internet says she is coming through town and wants to get together at the mall. The Ôgirl’ who gives the name of Morgan also asks for the student’s home number and address.

Amatulli asks her students; “Do you think (the student) made a good choice by saying she would meet Morgan? Should she give her home information out? How can you apply the Four Rules For Safety to this situation?”

Students will be given time to discuss and reflect on the situation and come up with decisions that will protect them in the future.

Then students create a commercial for their peers that include the “Four Rules For Safety.” This commercial will be uploaded to the classroom Web site, where their peers and parents can view it from home.

Amatulli does not want to discourage the use of the Internet.

“In our classroom, we embrace technology. That’s their future. When you have a foundation of safety, you don’t have to fear it because you understand what’s right and what’s wrong and what should be reported,” Amatulli said.

“This year, we are going to publish it on the Avondale district Web site, along with a public service Pod cast,” she said. The Oakland Press/JOSE JUAREZ


Author: RJ Thomas

RJ Thomas is an International Relationship Builder. He was born in South Africa, and moved to China in 2013.