by Marjie Podzielinski
Google Lit Trips are free downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. At each location along the journey there are place marks with pop-up windows that contain a variety of resources including relevant media, thought provoking discussion starter, and links to supplementary information about “real world” references made in that story. Google Lit Trips have been developed by teachers and students. They allow the reader to utilize the technology of Google Earth and put them in the exact location and travel of the characters in historical fiction.
First, start by downloading Google Earth to your computer. Then log in to Google Lit Trips. With my fifth graders we looked at the extensive resources provided on the Orphan Train with A Family Apart by Joan Lowery Nixon. My students read the novel and then were amazed to follow the path of the Orphan Train from New York to stops in the Midwest where children were chosen to live with families. Quotations from the story and historical photographs bring this novel to life. Students can actually see the trains and the orphanage, and have a much clearer look at what life was like at the turn of the century.
My sixth graders utilized the Google Lit Trip for Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793. This Lit trip details the marketplace, the coffeehouses, and farm life during the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia. Students can see the obstacles facing these characters by incorporating Google Lit Trips with their studies.
The site now also offers walking tours for Cannery Row.
Jerome Burg is the founder of Google Lit Trips. This resource is expanding all the time. Templates are available for download. Students and teachers from all over the world can create their own Google Lit trips. This challenges the student to use higher level thinking skills and evaluate what is truly important in the story. Google Lit Trips range from K-5 and go all the way through college. This resource is an exciting way to connect kids and reading.
Marjie Podzielinski is the librarian at Coulson Tough School in The Woodlands, Texas.
This article is part of a series from the Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).