Today's class went very smoothly. The students are all so receptive. I don't think I have had a class in which everyone listened this well in a long time (well, almost everyone--there is one guy who sleeps consistently, and I called him on it today). What I had to say branched out in all directions because they know virtually nothing, for the most part, about writing or reading critically (with a few exceptions). So we talked about sentences, reasoning, paragraphing, using quotations, constructing an argument, etc. I know that everything I say is new because of the look most of them have on their faces as they take notes.
This is not to say that the work is top notch. With a few exceptions, it isn't. But I think that perhaps we will have some breakthroughs if they work at it. The draft is due tomorrow, and I expect some pretty hard reading. I delayed it two days from the original plan because they were just not ready to proceed when I returned yesterday. They didn't understand the book at all. One has to teach her own class. There just isn't anyone else who can do it.