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Engaging Students in an Animated Literature Trip in Google Earth

Innovative educators are trying to engage students in their literature classes in books and literature works by using multimedia to address the students needs in the 21 century. One innovative technique is using the power of Google Earth and multimedia to take students in a 3D animated tour of one or more characters in the book that they are currently reading. Students would navigate the guided tour, already designed by the teacher and interact with the spatial environment of the characters.  This post will give a glimpse of what Google Lit Trips is, why is it useful, and some useful links if you want to delve deeper Smile Please refer to the list of links at the end of the post for everything you need to learn about Google Earth and doing Guided tours.


Students are reading “Johnny Appleseed”. They are engaged in some kind of literature circles to discuss chapters, characters, and analysis of salient elements in the book. Teacher realizes that the plot includes many places where events occur. This, the teacher believes, gives some geographical aspect of the book that students need to explore to make more sense out of the book. So, the teacher decides to combine the power of technology , pedagogy, and content to engage students in a Google Lit Trips.

1- The teacher first makes a story Board to locate the places where the character has been, the information about the events that occur in that place, an image that might convey more on that place, some links perhaps, and reference to the pages or chapter in the book where these occur. To know more on how to make a story board for a Google Lit Trip please watch the video below.

How to Make a Storyboard for Google Lit Trip

2- The teacher goes to Google Earth and searches for the first location from the storyboard. The teacher places a place mark and adds more information on this place including page reference and selections from the book, image, and perhaps some links for the students to explore the place where the event has happened.
Watch the two tutorial videos below on how to design a Google Lit Trip and record a tour.

How to Create Google Lit Trip–Part I

How to Creat Google Lit trip- Part 2

3- The teacher then saves the KML file and shares it with the students to view the tour. Students would view the tour, referring to the book too, and explore the geographical locations. They would be engaged with the associated vocabulary for each place, the questions in query, etc.… and discuss with their peers.
Students from grade 2 till higher education can be engaged in Google Lit Trips based on the books they read. Take a look at an overview of “Grape of Wrath” Google Lit Trip.

Google Lit Trips are especially useful in exploring books that contain many geographical settings. Students would explore places in the book that were previously foreign to them. They would align the verbal and visual channels to be engaged in a memorable exploration of a literary work.

Tips and Links

Ah, and don’t forget that Google Earth is not confined to the surface of our planet. You can make a tour guide on other planets of even on the sea surface !!!

Last Comment

I believe that educators should take it to the next step and make students themselves produce Google Lit Trips based on their explorations of the book. This, of course, depends of the students' prerequisites, age, and the aim of the lesson/course. If students collaboratively construct their own interpretation of the literary work with the aid of technology then I believe that this is the highest layer of interactivity and engagement, let alone the high order of thinking and collaborative skills that are honed by this approach.



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