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This learning community, focused on social media, was a perfect fit for Basic Writing and Psychology courses, which students took as a cohort in the Fall semester of their freshman year. (The same cohort continued together in First-Year Composition in the Spring semester.) Students worked on some of their Psychology readings in the English class, where double-length class periods allowed for instruction in close reading and annotation, resulting in the students being better prepared for both courses.
The highlight of the semester was a class lunch at a nearby Applebee’s, for which there was only one rule:
no communication except through social media. Students communicated through Twitter, for which they had a class-specific hashtag, and through Instagram, Facebook, and Vine. They then did an integrative assignment, a paper for both classes in which they were asked to analyze the behaviors they had observed at the lunch using concepts they’d learned in their Psychology course.
At some point, a group of students snuck away to the bathroom so they could talk—and plot to tell the waiters that it was my birthday—and all were relieved when, towards the end of the meal, we relented and let them chat. It was an experience they continued to talk and write about for the rest of the year, and they all decided that putting away the phones isn’t such a bad idea sometimes.