When most people think of Google Earth, they think maps and geography. Great literature rarely comes to mind. But one way that we can become better social studies teachers is to find ways to integrate our content with fiction and non-fiction sources. One of the best ways to do that is by using Google Lit Trips. Google Lit Trips focuses on the idea of creating Google Earth Tours based on historical fiction, novels and non-fiction.
Jerome Burg originated the Google Lit Trips site several years ago and it’s been growing ever since:
This site is an experiment in teaching great literature in a very different way. Using Google Earth, students discover where in the world the greatest road trip stories of all time took place . . . and so much more!
The site encourages teachers to create and share their own Google Earth lit tours as well as download the tours of others. There are currently 31 tours that you can download into your Google Earth software. Titles include such books as Night by Elie Wiesel, My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleishman.
Lit Trips allow your kids to tie content with place and time by taking advantage of the many Google Earth tools. Tours can and do have embedded images, photos, video clips, chapter summaries, review questions, assignments – really just about anything you can image. Most Lit Trips also include teaching resources and suggestions, either embedded in the GE file itself or separately on the Google Lit Trip page.
Jerome has recently added helpful tools such as a Google Lit Trip tutorial for creating your own tour and a step-by-step guide to viewing and using the work of others. If you’ve used Google Earth before, this is a no-brainer addition to your teaching toolkit. And if you’ve not used Google Earth much, don’t be afraid to jump into Lit Trips with both feet. There’s not a better place to start!
If nothing else, simply assign your kids to create their own Lit Trips and integrate it with their English classes.
Whatever you do, be sure to have fun!