Wednesday, March 14, 2007

http://www.GoogleLitTrips.com

Everyone is commenting on this in the listservs and I assume that it's being blogged about quite a bit too. Time to unleash it on you all :)

This is an interesting project that uses Google Earth (which is a program you have to download to your computer) to map out the literary routes for a number of novels. I'm assuming that you will see many more in the next few years.

Go to the site for information, resources, including the .kmz files for use with Google Earth.


Also check out Google Certified Teacher program (http://www.google.com/educators/gtc.html). Looks interesting for those of you a little more ambitous on the technology end.

7 comments:

Eric said...

I saw a while ago that they had one for the DaVinci Code. Interesting idea. A couple of summers ago we were standing in Westminster Abbey after attending a choral service (which I kept falling asleep through because I was jet lagged). We were looking at Sir Isaac Newton's tomb, and one of the preists came up behind us and said, "you boys haven't been reading the DaVinci Code, have you?" I'm sure most other places on the Google Earth trip would be more welcoming of DaVinci Code fans. :)

Dan said...

I have been playing with Google Earth more in the last few days and I really like it. I'm still trying to figure out what I can do with it. I'm interested in using it myself to organize "my places" (even though the Korea resolution isn't that great).

For my students, I'm wondering if I can use it to encourage students to write/talk about their travels or even daily lives. They could map these places out and then present them to the class.

Dan

Mary Spaeth said...

Depending upon what's on my own agenda, I tend to react to "new" tools in various ways. The teacher inside me who taught literature really effectively 20 years ago(according to 90% of student reviews), says that this doesn't necessarily add much value to the experience. The explorer and adventurer in me who always like to try new things, is curious--and when she has time to "play" will likely enjoy GoogleLit. Like you, Dan, I'll have to figure out what it's really good for. Even the webquests strike me as the equivalent of Apple/Mac desktop publishing in the 80s when every Tom, Dick and Harry thought he was a graphic designer because suddenly the average guy on the street knew what a font was! I was in the advertising business then and rode out the wave--thank God. It was great when all the wanna-be designers went back to their day jobs. I think the WebQuests will become the next generation "textbooks" and as a teacher, I'll be glad that I can design one or two for fun, but probably will be happier to buy, borrow, or liberate quality quests made by professionals.

What do you think?

Dan said...

I see value in having students locate stories geographically. I think that too often students don't see the context as much as they should. I think that is good to see the story in light of your own circumstances, but this limits insight into the plot significantly.

I think that this type of technology can help with this. I'd also add to this 3d immersive worlds and hybrid technologies that could take advantage of both.

I think that teachers have been designing WebQuest-like products for years, they just referred to them as problem-based lessons :) The Web component was merely begun to take advantage of information, applications, and the motivating factors of the medium (I'd argue that Web pages are no longer a motivating force).

Dan

John said...

Hi Dan, I haven't looked at this program much yet, but I like your idea of using it to encourage students to write about their travels. I wish I had more time to look at some of these things more and plan lessons around them or just use them for motivation. I guess I will have more time when I finish my studies at Indiana.

jerome Burg said...

Dan,
This is Jerome, the guy behind GoogleLitTrips. I appreciate your interest in the site. I'm grinning just a bit after reading Mary Spaeth's comments. Having been there at the birth of desktop publishing, I could not agree with Mary more about the dubious potential of giving the power of the press to those ignorant of all that professional publication designers journalists and typographers knew. So... Mary, I'd love to hear your appraisal of, say, the The Grapes of Wrath Lit Trip. I hope you are not as disappointed as we both were with "upstart" publishers back in the early days of desktop publishing.
And for the record, I am a high school English teacher in my 35th year. I hope that experience and my interest in new tools give me some credibility. But, we are birds of a feather... reading a good book is one of life's great pleasures.

Mary Spaeth said...

Hello Jerome (and Dan of course!)
What a pleasure to see your post. The Grapes of Wrath LitTrip brings a form of reality to the novel that few students can appreciate--without seeing the film, watching the Steppenwolf play, or having a keen sense of geography and "place" already.

I might be a tough critic when it comes to the presentation of this novel. While I may not be the cleverest literary critic in town, I can say that my American literature professor in graduate school was none other than Pascal Covici, Jr. the son of Pascal Covici--Steinbeck's close friend, editor and publisher. My professor grew up literally sitting on Steinbeck's knee. See, among other online citations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal_Covici

I very much like the introduction of migrant song lyrics "somewhere along the way", and the careful, thematic introduction of a term like "ostentatious" which reflects what appears to be your desire to encourage student contemplation of the meaning of money or the lack thereof in a failing economy.

The links to "good guys" and "bad guys" as a means to discuss the role of socialism in a free and democratic society is also relevant and interesting and good perhaps be brought out even more in the context of geography and place in your lit-trip.

I very much enjoy the line of questioning in your lit-trip. If I were asked :-) to edit your work, I might reformulate some of the questions in such a way that answers were more difficult. Your reference to the "brown woman" scaring Rose of Sharon (chapter 22), leads to inferences that Steinbeck doesn't make directly (even if they are implied). To ask students if either "scaring" OR "telling" (two different things also) is right or wrong is an impossible judgement for them to make within the context of the novel. They can talk about the potential consequences of the woman's beliefs as she verbalizes them to Rose of Sharon however.

Finally, I think that it's important in the introduction to refer to Steinbeck's aversion to "laissez-faire" capitalism, but not simply to capitalist economy. He was not completely averse to capitalism per se, but certainly angered by capitalism gone wrong. I wouldn't be surprised if you discuss this in class anyway, but for others who might see your lit-trip, and who teach Steinbeck in its geo-political context, then the industrial, agricultural, political, and social issues prove plenty complex: the industrial revolution, era of aviation, WWI, and social Darwinism (in addition to poor farming habits, grasshopper plagues, and a drought). Sheer survival by all but the very wealthy became paramount--and the middle classes (including politicians) could protect their own dwindling power and resources by adapting a "survival of the fittest" mentality as well.

Well, this was much more than I intended to write, but I really enjoyed the stimulus of your question. It'd be fun to listen to your students as they engage in these discussions with you.

Cheers,
Mary

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