A great idea that I got from the CTL workshop was a letter writing exercise that I find works really well in our type of classrooms.
What do you do? Well, you give each student an envelope and you have them write down their fears, hopes and expectations for the course. They should also include what they hope to get out of us (the instructor) as a resource and how they will engage. Then the students seal the letters, write their names on it, and then they hand them back to you.
I have adapted this idea so that I keep the letters until just before they have to write their learning letters for the final portfolio so they can see how they have progressed and what they have accomplished. It not only makes them pay attention to their roles as writers, but I think it even gives them an idea of how to value themselves as learners and contributors in the course and it makes them realize that you as an instructor are really interested in providing them with a classroom community wherein objectives and goals are set and reached (together).
Try it and let me know how it works for you!!!