Where would you like to go today?

This week’s blog is about a tool that I already knew which is called Google Earth. Basically, it is a tool created by Google which allows its users to have pretty precise images of places all around the world. You only have to enter an address (similar process to the one with Google Maps) and it gets you there in a few seconds. The images are so clear that you could believe you are actually there. Even if I knew what Google Earth was about, the idea of using it in the classroom honestly never really occurred to me. When my university teacher mentioned the idea in one of our classes, I thought it was really interesting and I decided to investigate a little more on that tool.

I started by reading over an amazing blog on the matter. It showed how I could motivate my students when it comes to literature. In fact, you start by choosing a story or a book for your students to read. You then create a storyboard for your story in which you identify the main places discussed in it. In addition to the important places, you can include some academic knowledge that you would like your students to focus on as they read the story. Then, you use Google Earth to create a Google Lit Trip. This trip basically takes your students to all the different places you’ve identified earlier. For example, they could get to see where the main character was born, where the story takes place, where it ends, etc. I think this idea is amazing because it really gets the students involved in the story. Some students are more visual and this could be a good tool to motivate them to read the story. I would also make it as a kind of treasure hunt, where the students would have to go to the different places and answer questions related to what they would have read. This would motivate them to read and would force them to reflect on their reading as well. I could even choose my course literature according to previous examples of Google Lit Trips.

The other thing I could do is ask the students to go on Google Earth and choose different places they like. The application allows them to visit famous places and important cities, view historical images, discover the mysteries of the oceans and explore the universe. They could start by identifying their favorite places and create a story based on these. For higher-level students, I could even ask them to create their own Google Lit Trip related to their story. They could then show it to the rest of the class. It would be a great way to engage the students in their creative writing.

In addition to its usefulness with literature, Google Earth has a lot more to offer. I could show my students the places we would go on our field trip, ask them to do an autobiographical project in which they would explain their future journey around the world, make them talk about a country of their choice, etc.

Thinking about Google Earth and the way I could use it in a classroom made me realise that you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. If a simple tool exists and can be used, why not simply use it? One of the advantages of using it is that my students will probably be already familiar with the tool so I won’t have to spend a lot of time explaining my project. Unfortunately, I think that students’ interest towards literature is decreasing and I would be a fool not to try anything in order to keep it from disappearing completely.

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