Teachers can use one of the Treks already published on the site, or create their own on any topic and tailor it to their curriculum. The format is flexible, so you can include as much information, or as many supporting Web resources, as you wish. Really, the possibilities are nearly limitless, but it will take effort to mold the Trek into something more meaningful than just a list of data and websites.
A better use of the site may be to have kids create their own Google Treks. A student-created Trek would be a great jigsaw or end-of-unit project. Kids would be more engaged in creating their own Treks than in merely completing one designed by their teacher. The site provides a rubric teachers or students can use as a guide to creating a Trek, but teachers might also want to specify what they want kids to include; some parts of the rubric aren't very specific. Teachers might also want to review with kids how to identify quality resources on the Web.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: Google Treks is no longer available.
Google Treks isn't affiliated with Google; it's a strategy that makes use of Google Maps' ability to incorporate different resources in one place: text, pictures, videos, and Web links. Using the My Custom Maps tool in Google Maps, teachers (or kids) can plot points on the map, type in descriptions, and add pictures, videos, or links to enrich the map. The typical Google Trek may include a variety of features: topic intro and background, content standards, objectives, teacher info, lesson plan, embedded Web tools and links, article links, essential vocabulary, pictures/videos, and question prompts/assessments. Anyone can make a Trek and submit it to googletreks.org to be reviewed and published -- all that’s required is a Gmail account.
As a teaching tool, Google Treks is an interesting way to use a common Web tool. Many features are great for learning, like the ability to embed pictures and video in the text, which is great for visual learners and ELL kids. Many Treks link to interactive websites to help kids learn content, or to other sites like online writing apps and bubble maps to help kids organize their thoughts and answer questions. While there’s a lot of potential for this tool in inquiry- or project-based curricula, many of the currently published Treks seem fairly old-school in design. Most list a few info points for kids to go through, offer videos or websites to check out, and some questions to answer.
In short, many of the posted Treks are teacher-driven, leaving less room for kids to individualize their experiences. Also, the quality of the published Treks is inconsistent, with some offering more resources than others. From the details, lesson plans, and links to standards to the essential questions that drive instruction, not every Trek is structured the same. It would improve the experience if all projects had a basic format, so users could better know what to expect.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.
Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.