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A number of teachers have started to ask me how to plan for and execute a Google Lit Trip. Below are some directions on how I go about the process of planning for and executing Expedition Lit Trips. A PDF of this information is on the "
" page. Feel free to use this information and to adapt it to your class. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me (Thomas Cooper) at
Determine what books, short stories, biographies, or poems you would like to use.
Have a list of approved books, stories and poems that students can choose from before the project beings.
The best ones involve travel by the main character.
I suggest starting out by having the entire class do the same book.
After you feel comfortable with the process, you might consider having students do different books.
This way you can have students look at broad themes across books.
Determine what literary themes and concepts you want the students to understand.
On a basic level
Google Lit Trips
can be used to create an interactive book report that relates the facts of the book to where they took place.
To incorporate higher level thinking, you might consider incorporating some geographical and historical concepts.
These are some of the questions I use for our Expedition Trips. Feel free to incorporate questions that deal more specifically with your course objectives.
How are places, people and events spatially related?
How does geography promote or hinder events in the story?
Where did the character come from and how do events and places in the main character's past life affect their current behavior?
How does the character feel about living in that place?
How do the environment and/or social institutions located in that place affect the character’s decisions?
What historical events shaped the current environment in which the characters are interacting?
How might current events found in newspapers of the time affect the character’s decisions or events in the book?
h. What cultures are represented in the book and where are they located?
i. How are these cultures similar or different to yours?
j. Does the main character encounter a different culture and if so, what do he learn from interacting with this culture?
k. How does the character's interactions with different cultures or social and/or ethnic groups witin a particular society affect the character's decisions and influence the plot?
Read and Discuss the Book:
Have students read the book and discuss it on a regular basis.
As part of my class, I have book discussion each week where we address some common literary ideas such as character, plot, metaphors, and historical significance.
It's at this time that we also discuss one or more of the questions in set #2.
Outline the Book as You Go:
Have students plot out what is going on in a concept map as you discuss the book.
I have students do a concept map for each chapter of the book, then show how each chapter is connected.
Each node in the concept map can represents important facts about each chapter and line between the nodes respresent how facts and situations in the book are connected or influenced by one another.
You can also use students' concept maps to show how historical events and other factors affected the character’s decisions.
These can be come links to outside paper, websites, podcasts and videos that can be linked to your Lit Trip.
A free online tool to concept map with is Gliffy (
I also have students take notes on the plot and characters as we go through each chapter. Each week I have them write (as homework) a separate paragraph below their notes, about themes and historical significance.
Google Notebook (
is a great online tool for students to take notes in class and at home.
Learn to Use the Software:
Plan 3-5 days in the computer lab (see Teacher Google Lit Planbook on
page) where you can teach the students how to navigate around Google Earth, create basic placemarks, add text and images, work with tables to outline their information, and embed other applications, such as videos.
I start this process only after students have read a good portion of the book and have a number of chapters outlined.
I suggest spreading out these technology lessons over 3-5 weeks so that students have time to practice.
Encourage students to start creating placemarks with the information from their outlines to practice the techniques you are teaching them.
I have created some screencasts that show how to use the software and you can find other videos and documents on how to use Earth at the links below:
My Screencast Tutorials –
Google Earth Video Tutorials -
Google Earth Document Tutorials -
KML Document Tutorials
Storyboard the Book:
Have students collect images, podcasts and videos that they plan to use to make points about aspects of the book’s plot, character development, or events that affected the character, and organize them in a storyboard (see form on
You can use the attached form or try the free storyboard software at the link below:
Story Board Tools -
Conduct a Peer Review:
After the storyboard had been created and before students put the final layer together, have students to a peer review.
I typically have students create the storyboard and then pass it on to at least two different students so they can make their comments.
Leave Sufficient Time for Construction of the Layer:
Make sure to leave at least 3-4 weeks at the end of the project so that students can construct their final layer, do a final peer review, and have time to make changes to their layers.
I typically assign all of this as homework.
Google Earth is free and can be
at home by students so there is no need to use class time for the construction of final layer.
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