You know what I hate about the first day of class? Going over the syllabus. You know that the students do nothing but listen to instructors read them the syllabii the first two days of class as they meet all their instructors for the first time. Not only is this tedious for them (and I wonder if they even remotely pay attention), but it’s tedious for me too.
This year I vowed to turn all my classes into student-oriented learning as much as possible, starting with DAY ONE!
The syllabus was five pages long. I had students count off by 5 and put them in groups. Each group received copies of one (and only one) page of the syllabus. They had about 5-8 minutes to read that page and then decide what to present and how to present it.
During this time, I circulated to answer questions that the groups might had (clarifying points mostly).
The five groups then presented the five pages of the syllabus, highlighting what was important to THEM and phrasing the main points in their own words. The class was very attentive (especially since they had not seen any page but the one they had).
Then I passed out the syllabus to everyone.
Completely painless. I wish I had thought of this one years ago.