Well, the school year is back, and hopefully I'll be posting here with some regularity about my two freshman comp classes and the groovy things that we discuss.
Both groups (I teach two sections per semester) look promising. I did my standard opening day exercise--before I introduced myself, took roll, handed them a piece of paper, or anything else of the sort, I had them pair up, learn each other's names, and write down working definitions for "republican" and "liberal." Then I had each person tell me the other's name and define one of the two words. Then, after I introduced all of the websites and software involved with the class (I do all the grading and they do peer revision electronically), I returned to those two words on the board. Next to "republican" I wrote "Rome," and we talked about how that changed the meaning of the word. Then next to "liberal" I wrote "arts," and we talked about the changes there. Then I discussed how George Washington, Tom Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and the lot of 'em in 1776 would have considered themselves both republicans and liberals and how both of those words signified something anti-monarchical at the time.
As we did these things, both groups seemed interested, and I think we'll have a good time when we really get rolling. This Tuesday I'm just marking time until drop/add ends, but after that we'll start digging hard into the trial of Socrates.