We're now well into the first week of classes. I taught all three of my classes (including a 5 hour a week course) on Monday, ending with three hours of the Choose your own Early Brit Lit Adventure (the course I talked about here).
I sent the students Sidney's "Apology" (well, a good chunk of it) ahead, with some discussion questions to think about, and that was good. We talked about how we know what's worth reading, what's worth spending our time on. And I put them in groups and gave them their assignment for next week, which is to choose what they want to read (from my list) and be ready to explain and argue for their choices (so the Sidney lead into that, sort of). I gave them time in class to figure out a group strategy, exchange contact information, and so forth. I think they're ready.
And this evening, not yesterday (Tuesday) or even during working hours today, this evening... I got an email from a student who missed class on Monday. I'm sure the reason for missing was totally good, but, um... well, there's a spanner in the works, as British folks would say. So now I've emailed them back with the syllabus and calendar, and emailed the class asking if a group is willing to add a person who missed class on Monday. (Which is basically a whole week of class, of course, given that we meet once a week.)
I'm hoping some group is willing to add a person and they let me know pretty quickly.
Today in my other two classes, I started by asking for questions on the readings. And then I handed out an open notes, closed book quiz. But surprise! It wasn't really a quiz, but a fake quiz to make them realize that they really DO need to read carefully and take notes. And then I handed out a copy of my own notes for the reading in each class (different, naturally, since they're very different courses) and we talked about taking notes as we talked about the readings.
The one reading in the first year writing course was about reading "rhetorically" and talked about how to read and take good notes. But, being first year students, most of them didn't translate that into actually taking notes. Hopefully, they'll do better in future. (That's why they're in college, after all!)