As students entered my class on the first day, the desks were identified by a letter (index cards were taped to the desks, and I handed out a letter as students walked through the door). This process randomized seating and scattered students around the room. Presumably, they walked to class with a friend, and if they filed in the door together, they would strategically be given letters across the room from each other.
Also included on their desk assignment were three numbers which corresponded to sections of the class syllabus (written of the back of their index card). And therefore, their first homework assignment was randomly assigned. The requirements were: illustrate three assigned sections of the syllabus and include at least four colors.
On the right side of the notebook (page 3), students stapled the syllabus. On the left side of the notebook (page 2), students completed their illustrations.
This represents the two sides of the notebook: the right side is teacher input, in this case the syllabus which I wrote; the left side is student output, in this case colorful illustrations to represent a specific syllabus section.
My first goal for this assignment was to start the course with homework on the first day, to get students in the habit of completing homework during each class meeting. My second goal was for students to be familiar with the syllabus by reading at least three sections (I'm sure students were so intrigued and enthralled by those three sections, that they continued to read the syllabus in its entirety).
On the second day of class, I put students into small groups of four. Each student presented their illustrations to the group and explained their assigned syllabus section. This was an opportunity to introduce and enforce expectations for collaborative work.