The first day of class for me is kind of a wash. My class meets first period and during first period on the first day of school the freshmen have a class meeting in the theater. Since 22 of my 31 (my numbers right now, anyway) students are freshmen (9 are sophomores), and I'll only see them for about 5 minutes, we can't do much. (Last year I went with the freshmen and the sophomores stayed with another Algebra teacher and their sophomores - we'll probably do something similar this year.)
So this is what I did last year. As the students came in there was already a slip of paper on their desks with their name on it (telling them where their seat is) and the URL for the class blog, as well as our Algebra textbook. When the bell rings I do a very quick "hi" and let them know that the freshmen will be dismissed shortly to go to the class meeting. I ask them to write their names in their Algebra textbooks and that they should visit the class blog tonight to see what their assignment is. I also have the class blog up on the screen and, if I have time, I briefly go over what that assignment is.
Before I talk about that assignment, I need to backup briefly. Right now (in June) I'm in the process of contacting all the parents to verify that they have high-speed Internet access at home (if they don't, then we'll switch them into another Algebra section - last year they all had it.) As part of this I make sure I have the parent's email address and I share some initial information about the class with them, and then let them know that I'll be contacting them - and their student - in early August. I also share with them the Incoming Freshmen Math Skills Assessment and Resources that my math department asks our incoming students to work through before August.
In early August I then send some additional information to the parents, and also ask them to share some information with their student. This includes reminding them about the Math Skills Assessment, and Resources, asking them to read through the course expectations (here's last year's) and completing an online form indicating they've read them, and asking them to write an "About Me" and, if possible, emailing it to me before school starts. I also ask them if they are called something other than their given first name and ask them to bookmark the class blog.
So, back to the first day's assignment. On the blog that night I'll ask them to read the course expectations and submit the online form (if they haven't already done it), complete the About Me writing assignment (if they haven't already done it) and get it to me by Wednesday, and I ask them to take their textbook home, place it wherever they study, and take a picture of it there. Then they need to email the picture to me (or they can just show me on their cell phone) to show that the textbook made it home (if any students just have no way to get a digital image of the textbook, I tell them they can draw a picture). We don't use the textbook day-to-day in my class, but I still give it to them as another resource that I want them to keep at home in case it helps.
So, while I am giving "homework" on the first day of class even though we really didn't have class, for most of the students the only thing they need to complete is taking their book home and taking a picture of it. (But it does allow for those students who chose not to do the other two things before school started to do it now.)
Given the restrictions of my "first" day of class, what do you think?