This semester’s teaching features something I’ve never done before: regular homework. Reading quizzes aren’t cutting it. In fact, all across my discipline, I hear over and over again that quizzes achieve nothing — those who would study do well, those who don’t, fail. Survival curve. So the first couple days’ lectures have been just a pure “here we are” lecture with the course basics plus motivational speaking, plus, for the benefit of those who have never actually used a textbook (aren’t high schools lovely nowadays?), “this is how to take history notes.”
Get them willing to give it a shot in the beginning, and tell them why giving it a shot will set them up for a slam-dunk grade at the end… and maybe it will stick. You don’t have to have a brain to do history: history is nothing but gossip put to writing.