Google Earth is our Paper – Part 2: Add your Voice

Your talent scouting has hopefully provided you with a great location for your class narrative and perhaps you have even plotted the journey the main protagonists will take during the tale. What’s next? Today we continued our Google Earth storytelling as we added audio to the placemarks. 

In my opinion children’s writing, whether digital or otherwise, can be greatly improved through the use of purposeful  speaking and listening activities about the narrative prior to doing any individual work. Photostory and online resources like Voicethread provide us with a great set of tools to allow technology to further impact in this process. My aim in planning this unit was to include audio within the children’s Google Earth placemarks, I wanted their rehearsed, spoken parts of the story right in the place it happens.

Noel Jenkins must have been on my wavelength as at much the same time he posted on the excellent Digital Geography about the use of Vocaroo and audio notes in Google Earth. Vocaroo is simply ideal for classroom use and it could not be any easier to use. No login or sign-up, no profile or saved content – just hit record and then grab the code to embed elsewhere. Here is how to add audio to a GE placemark.



My class of 30 9/10 year olds went through this process today as we explored the 6 placemarks in the story we wanted to use for the story. I wanted to keep these the same for everyone so that we had some control over what people were doing and so that we could also share ideas amongst the class. They found the process simple, the audio is not great, but it is so easy to do it’s worth it. The Vocaroo site held up very well with 30 children working on it at much the same time.

It was a great lesson and the children will have some more time tomorrow refining their audio and perhaps adding a second piece of audio improving and building upon the sentences they did today. I worked with a small group of boys on a shared story – we had so much fun telling parts of the escape and adding chicken sound effects for the location in the last image above. I encourage you to give this a try and the clear potential for a huge variety of stories situated in Google Earth is boundless!

The next steps will be to refine some of the audio as I said and to begin to add some written text in the placemark that is scaffolded by the use of the Vocaroo recordings.

This is part 2 of a series of posts documenting our Google Earth Storytelling unit.

9 thoughts on “Google Earth is our Paper – Part 2: Add your Voice

  1. Dear Tom,

    Thanks so much for sharing this project for your class with all of us everywhere in the world! It is very impressive, indeed. Like you, I learned about using GE for Digital Storytelling earlier from the 21 Steps project, and I thought it was kind of a bit complicated and time consuming project. However, reading your blog post tweeted by you recently made me feel much better. Thanks for the illustration, tips, and for sharing vocarro.

    Way to go, Tom, you and your students 🙂

    Buthaina AlOthman
    Language Center of Kuwait University

  2. Hi Tom, I recently discovered your blog and all the wonderful ideas and resources that you share. Just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading about what you, and your students, are doing. What you are doing now with Google Earth is way cool. Unfortunately we do not have easy access to Google Earth in our district. Do you happen to know how much of what you are doing with this project can be done in Google Maps? Thanks again for sharing so much of the life of your classroom. BJ

  3. Really like this series of posts Tom. Keep up the great work and really pleased you and the children are enjoying useing the Wii in the classroom. OB

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