Elementary teachers could use the tours for whole-class activities, letting one student at a time tap through the steps of a tour to reveal the info on each stop. For older kids, teachers could more readily find their way through the site and explore on their own. For older elementary students, use one of the tours as part of a station rotation activity, and create discussion questions or complementary activities to make the tour just one piece of a larger activity to further engage students. Also, research the hyperlinks that some tours offer to provide extended-learning class openers or closers. Let middle school and high school students use Google Earth to create their own lit trip for novels or informational texts not listed on the site, and consider submitting those tours to the site's Special Projects section.Continue reading Show less
Google Lit Trips lets teachers and students use Google Earth to explore the real-world locations of more than 100 modern and classic works of fiction. Each "trip" is a free, downloadable file (created by a teacher) that teachers and students can use with Google Earth to explore a journey or the plot from a famous novel, short story, or poem. Each clickable "stop" on the tour connects to the story itself (like info about the plot and characters) or offers further context (like historical background or geographical insights) or an opportunity for further discussion (like a conversation starter or invitation to further research). Stops can contain text, audio, images, and video.
Users can watch a tutorial and download the starting guide prior to use to get a sense of all the features available (there are tons), but the site map and navigation bar along the top of the screen may be enough guidance without that support. Text levels range from kindergarten to college, and users can also explore the site's Special Projects section. Special projects include Lit Tours that visit world "literary locations" like famous literary festivals (such as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), iconic bookstores (like Paris's Shakespeare and Company), and notable authors' homes (like the Emily Dickinson Museum). You can also explore GLT Personal Journeys, which are user-generated trips that teachers and students have created to illustrate a journey they've taken or hope to take with a literary theme.
The spirit of Google Lit Trips is great: This free resource was created by a teacher for other teachers, and it's a super-cool way to bring literature to life through the familiar lens of Google Maps and Google Earth.
Keep in mind that there's a huge range of resources here, so teachers should spend some quality time exploring the different tours and figuring out how they'll work best in their classrooms. The content can be a little uneven: Some tours feature detailed content and thought-provoking questions, while others feature just a few images or audio clips. Though there are some solid teacher resources on the site, it's up to you to come up with the best way to use these resources to support your students' work with each of the texts on offer. That being said, the site's developers make it clear that this is an enrichment tool meant to supplement the text, not replace it: These tours "don't circumvent the need to actually do the writing," they write. Teachers should plan to read, play, explore, and then plan accordingly.
Key Standards Supported
Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history.
By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.