Digital Storytelling Part V- Google Maps

Storytelling used to be the only way to pass one generation’s knowledge on to the next one. Oral transmitted legends, fairy- and folk tales for example allowed elders to explain and help understand the world around them to their descendants. When books were scarce or did not exist and few knew how to read them, oral stories made a connection. Understanding is directly related to being able to connect new material, facts, ideas, and concepts to previously learned knowledge.

I remember sitting in my uncle and aunt’s apartment when I was little and looking at photo albums of their travels around the world. They would move on from merely traveling to living in Singapore, China and Hong Kong, always making photo albums that contained stories of their “foreign” lives.

Thanks to a company named Google , we no longer are confined to a photo album, a world map with push pins or a heavy family atlas to connect stories and images from around the world. Thanks to Web 2.0 tools, we can mash-up media, such as photos, videos, audio, and links that take us to explore further to TELL a story in more detail and with more connections to the world around us than ever before. We can invite others to collaborate in telling a story that has many perspectives, memories, or meanings.

How can you or your students write a story with a map?

  1. Create a Scavenger Hunt around the World
  2. Use an image of a place anywhere on Earth or your own backyard as a story starter
  3. Map the settings of a book you are reading
  4. Write a collective "Where have you been this summer" as a class
  5. Follow a biography of an important character in history and events that influenced or were influenced by him
  6. Tell the story of learning (and where) that took place in your classroom in a  school year

Create a google account and log into GoogleMaps.com .

Start you own map:

Give it a title

Move around the map, zoom in and zoom out, view it from a Map, Satellite or Terrain view.

Start adding Placemarks by clicking on the icon and dragging it onto the map.

You can choose different kinds of icons and colors

Enter a title for your Placemark and a description. Make sure that you are in "Rich Text " editing mode to format your text or create links within the the text You can add a picture by inserting the web address of the image

In order to create a link to the map on a website or blog clik on "Link to this page"

Copy (CTRL+C) and paste (CTRL+V) the link or the code. If you want to customize the width and height of you map, click on the "Customize and preview embedded code".

Choose a predetermined size (Small, Medium or Large) or enter your own dimensions in Pixels for you map.

You can add a line or draw a shape to the map. Your embedded map will automatically update with the newly added information.

You can always change the order of your Placemarks AFTER you added them, by simply dragging and dropping it into the correct order. This will be especially useful when you export your placemarks into Google Earth to create a FlightRoute

To export to Google Earth click on "View in Google Earth" and then save the .kml file to your computer or link to it from a website or blog. Double click on the file and Google Earth will automatically launch with your placemarks.

A great web 2.0 addition is the option to invite collaborators to your map. An entire class can add their individual point of view to a story.

Check out what these sites that use with maps to tell a story:

  • Google LitTrips
    This site is an experiment in teaching great literature in a very different way. Using Google Earth, students discover where in the world the greatest road trip stories of all time took place
  • Find a Story-Map a Story- Tell a Story
    There is an interesting relationship between place, story and community. As we revisit these places in our memory, we realize how stories naturally attached themselves to places from our past and how they shape us in the present.