I'm asking my senior seminar students to write short "keyword" essays in which they read a piece of theory or criticism and then write about a key word in the reading, explaining how the author is using it in the argument, and then responding shortly. I'm envisioning these as a page or two.
So today I wrote one for the reading assignment I emailed them all for the first day. (Yes, I've become THAT professor). It took just under an hour, and I'm pretty happy.
When I was first starting a certificate in teaching composition (way back before my phud program), one of the things they really suggested was that instructors try to use the instructions for an assignment to write the assignment. It's a GREAT practice, but I don't usually do it because it also takes a lot of time. But this time, I want to get a good start on this reading in the first class meeting, and I want to give them an example (because the last time, which was also the first time, I did the assignment, I wasn't always happy with the work they turned in) so that they'll have a better idea of my expectations.
Now that's done, and I'm going to have lunch and go snowshoing with some friends, because that's what friends are for!