Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More with Google: Lit Trips

Suzie Boss reports in Edutopia about one teacher's blending of literary "road trips" with Google Earth to enhance his literature teaching. Though he teaches and uses his Google lit trips in high school, they can certainly be adapted for middle schoolers.

Jerome Berg is an English teacher and technology-integration coordinator at Granada High School in California. His site, Google Lit Trips, features ready-made "lit trips" that can be downloaded and used with Google Earth. The trips are interactive and multimedia by nature. To start, you'll need to download Google Earth and spend a few minutes getting used to the navigation tools. They're relatively easy but if you prefer formal guidance, you can use the Google Earth tutorial.

With the interactive tools, students can follow the journey a literary character or non-fiction author takes or describes in a text. At Berg's site, you can see the potential of these lit trips with the one he created for The Kite Runner. The KMZ file, what Google Earth files are called, has placemarks in key locations, color coded to link them to exact chapters in the book. Students can zoom in to see terrain or buildings. They can also "fly" virtually from Afghanistan to California and back just as the character Amir did.

The placemarks also include embedded supplementary information on the Pashtun people, Shia and Sunni Muslims, and other details to enhance students' understanding or enjoyment of the book. Some of Berg's popups feature questions to encourage students to think about the story, characters or issues raised. Students can add placemarks themselves that help them relate to or better understand the story.

At the end of the article, Boss gives instructions on how to make your own lit trip and offers examples of ones made by middle school and elementary school teachers, both of which can be seen at the Google Lit Trips site. Students can also create their own lit trips. You can see a lit trip created by 2 seventh-graders for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants at Berg's site. A lit trip can be a great supplement to studying a text or can serve as an engaging end-of-term project.

SOURCE: "Google Lit Trips: Bringing Travel Tales to Life" 06/12/08
photo: screencapture of the Google Lit Trips homepage

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