A Comparative Study


San Diego, California

Biarritz, France


This unit was developed in the Spring of 1996 by Susanne Hirsch at Memorial Academy in the San Diego Unified School District's Triton Project, a Challenge Grant funded by the U. S. Department of Education.

In an interdisciplinary study students will create a web page which compares the coastal areas of San Diego, California and Biarritz, France, by focusing on the following areas:

Content Areas and Grades

This unit is anchored in a combination of 7th and 8th grade French Language Arts and also involves science and social studies.

Organizing Theme and Guiding Questions

Tying the unit together is the similarity between the cities of San Diego and Biarritz: They are located in precisely the same location in their respective countries: the southwestern corner of the U.S. and of France, on the ocean, and on the border with a Spanish-speaking country.

Some guiding questions are:

Goals, Objectives, and Curriculum Standards

Implementation Overview

This unit takes approximately three weeks to complete. This, of course, may vary depending on individual classroom needs. It is recommended to allow plenty of time for internet exploration. It is more efficient to allocate less frequent large blocks of time than more frequent smaller blocks of time.

Material Resources Needed

Human Resources Needed

This unit can be easily facilitated with one classroom teacher. It may be helpful to have the support of a savvy computer user who has internet skills.

Entry Level Skills and Knowledge

The learners will need to be on grade level in reading and writing in both English and French. Also, they will need basic geography skills in order to compare the locations of San Diego and Biarrtiz.

The teacher should be practiced in internet searching and e-mailing. Basic HTML knowledge is helpful, although not essential.

Outline of Activities

Week 1During the first week each student selects a focused topic to compare the two cities. Students use predetermined internet sites to conduct general research and begin information gathering.
Week 2This week is spent using search engines to locate internet sites concerning the specific topic of focus. The students will keep notes and complete a venn diagram to organize the information for final reporting.
Week 3Using an HTML template students report findings of the research for publishing on the internet. Graphics can be included with the permission from original publisher.


At the conclusion of the unit the students will be evaluated on how well they completed the article which compares San Diego and Biarritz. A
rubric is used to have students peer evaluate each other. This feedback, along with the teacher's, determines the success of each student.

Possible Variations

This unit culminates with a student-published web page in French to report the findings of internet research. It would be just as effective for the students to produce a HyperStudio stack or publish a document on a word processing program. This unit could be done with any second language or solely in English.
Also, other pairs of cities could be compared. For example:


This unit is an exciting way to merge language, science and social studies skills through the implementation of technology. By allowing students to expand their horizons into the world wide web we give them opportunities never before available in the classroom. This is an engaging unit with unlimited possibilites. The only problem will be stopping the students once they have begun.

Last updated on August 16, 1996.
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