Friday, September 13, 2013

Playing with Google Lit Trips

One of my favorite undergrad professors published a book on travel literature (A Wider Range: Travel Writing by Women in Victorian England by Maria H. Frawley), which at the time was a new genre to me.  I have since read, with varying degrees of interest, a few travel-inspired texts.  This summer, I reflected a bit about the literature-travel connection as my husband I drove hundreds of miles through amazing scenery in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.  The landscapes seemed rich with story.

So, when I learned about Google Lit Trips at a recent conference, I was excited to check it out.  The website explains it as follows:  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 placemarks with pop-up windows containing a variety of resources including relevant media, thought provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about “real world” references made in that particular portion of the story.”

I took a few of the “trips” and found it interesting, if a bit clunky.  It is interesting to zoom into a “Street View” perspective of some of the terrain traversed by the Joad family on their westward journey or see how much of the country Sal covered in Walk Two Moons.  Benefits of Google Lit Trips are that students might gain perspective on settings, learn a little about geography (I always found it interesting to learn how little traveling my students had done), and perhaps “see” stories in a new way. 

As of now, there are a limited number of “trips” available, but students and teachers can compose new trips to add to the archive.  I’m going to recommend it as an option for my 466 students when they do their “book report alternative” assignment, which they might then use in their own classrooms one day.  Taking or (even better) composing a Lit Trip seems like a way to use technology to enhance the literature experience and to build 21st century skills.  

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. ~ Mark Twain

No comments:

Post a Comment