iamliterate - Engaging Learners with GLT

Engaging Learners with Google Literature Trips

Short URL to this presentation - http://bit.ly/littrips

Presentation at ISTE 2013 -
See also GoogleEarth
Presentation Handout


Engage students with integrated visual learning using Google Earth to develop the geographic story/timeline connecting to literature you study in class. Work together to create a Google Literature Trip you can use in your classroom in the Fall.


To provide a tool set for teachers to engage students in learning Google Earth's visual geography tool.


  • Expose teachers to tools that will engage students in literature, introduce geography concepts, activate background knowledge, and provide your students access and exposure to the world around them?
  • This session will explain how to create a Google Literature Trip and how to make cross-curricular connections. We will explore the basics of Google Earth such as navigation toolbar, measurement tools, featured content, placemarks, and layers of information.
  • It is also possible while building a Google Lit Trip with a class to address National Geographic’s Five Themes of Geography. We will follow the author of two Google Literature Trips and the learning journey of the creation process.
  • After attending this session, teachers will be able to use existing Google Lit Trips and begin developing their own. Teachers may also feel comfortable to empower their students to share their learning by creating a Google Lit Trip.


What are Google Lit Trips
  • History of Lit Trips
  • The Google Lit Trip Website and ALI.apple.com
  • Anatomy of a Google Lit Trip
Overview of the learning process the author had creating a Google Lit Trip
Overview of Google Earth
  • Survey of Features
  • Differences from Google Maps
Explore creating a basic Google Lit Trip based on:
  • Creating Places (Text, images, links)
  • Creating Paths
  • Creating Overlays
  • Create a mini Google Lit Trip while exploring these aspects

History of Lit Trips

In 2007, Jerome Burg of California began a project as a Google Certified Teacher to engage students better with some of his favourite pieces of literature. Working with Google Earth as the springboard, there are now over 38 Literature Trips published on his site. GoogleLitTrips.org More recently he collaborated on a book - BookMapping and started looking at Trips that involve a single location.

Extending beyond the 'Literature Trip'

If you like Google Lit Trips, you might be interested in Google Historical Voyages and Events, a project by Google Lit Trips developer Carol LaRow. According to Carol, “This site is dedicated to the explorers, voyages, events, and historical backgrounds of countries throughout the World.”

A newer concept is also a One-Stop Story


The Google Lit Trip Website is searchable to find specific journeys such as

Posted on ALI
Created by Kevin Amboe
Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine -

Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker

White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson

NEW - White Jade Tiger - KMZ file

NEW - White Jade Tiger - Novel Study

Curriculum Connections

There are several Google Lit Trips that connect directly to BC Curriculum

Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine
- social justice, immigration, discrimination, WWII,

Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker
- immigration, settling of Canada, discrimination

White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson
- immigration, discrimination, local geography, local history

Anatomy of a Google Lit Trip

Google Earth
Good Geographic Literature
A KMZ file (could be premade or created on the fly)
Internet Access

Overview of the learning process

I have done this myself and with students.


Teaching students the basics of creating a Lit Trip are fairly quick. A series of simple lessons can be downloaded .

A great demonstration of the value of this method is having students searching for images for Underground to Canada and then putting in images of 'plantations' that were actually 'tea plantations'

A caution is having a list of 'locations' available for students. The inside of the novel listed 10 'locations' so most students created places for these locations only.


My first Google Trip was actually a photo tour field trip.
I learned how
  • to identify locations
  • to create balloons
  • to embed images in balloons (mine and others)

My first official Google Lit Trip was Hana's Suitcase.
I learned
how to read and collect list of locations
  • determine which locations are of significance
  • determine if is is an identifiable location

how to identify locations
  • figure out different place names based on culture / language
  • figure out approximate locations based on time or direction
how to search for appropriate images
  • public domain
  • creative commons
  • requesting permission of the author
how to find other web connections
  • contacting the site owner for hanassuitcase.ca
  • being given permission to link images from that site.
  • requesting image permission from people in Europe and being give additional information helping on my quest.
how to contact publishers (and usually not get a response)

See nuances
Germany - Area under German control
Germany.png Conquered.png
I grew up in our BC Education System and had no concept of the impact of Nazi Germany in terms how far it had advanced.

Overview of Google Lit Trip Features

Overview of the Lit Trip
Author and other Background
Folders for Chapters
  • Pins identifying locations
  • Balloons embedding
  • images
  • widgets
  • links
  • information and questions
  • snapshots of special views
  • movie tours
Extensions and next steps

Student interactive features
  • have students navigate the existing placemarks
  • have students use the ruler to measure distances
  • have students use tilt features and explore 360 degrees around a location

Other Features
Can work with Timelines
  • locations appear and change over time

Now let's download one and explore it.

Differences from Google Maps

Google Maps has most features of Google Earth with the following exceptions
  • Rulers, Polygons, and Movies
  • Tilt Plane navigation
  • Number of items on one screen

You can create a Lit Trip in Google Earth and import into Google Maps.

The advantages of Google Maps are:
  • No software to install
  • Set sharing preferences

Let's Create one together

While this is not a complete Google Lit Trip, we will walk through the component steps together

1. Create a folder to store your locations in

2. Search for a location
  • Drag from search pane into your folder

3. Create a new location
  • Click on pin icon
  • Label it
  • Provide information or questions

4. Edit a location
  • changing the pin
  • changing the text
  • inserting an image (from a website)
  • insert a link
  • changing the view properties
  • insert a widget (let's use voki.com)

5. Create an overlay
  • find a relevant image / map on the web
  • copy the URL
  • Create the overlay
  • Paste the URL
  • Set Transparency

6. Create a Path
  • Move Balloon window
  • click point to point
  • zoom and move in this mode with arrows and +-
  • click and drag a path

7. Create a Movie Path
  • Click to create
  • Press record - navigate Google Earth