I ask students to engage with what we read and talk about more personally, and across contexts, in brief, written “class journals” each week. I encourage them to draw connections to what they study in other courses, what they read in the news, and what is going on in their lives.
Though weekly assignments can be a bit of a grind, that regularity combined with brevity, informality, and confidentiality (i.e., an assignment turned in to you, not shared openly in class) can allow otherwise quiet students to demonstrate what more socially confident students demonstrate easily in class discussion.
Class journals also act as a check to make sure students did the reading this week. If the assignments start to roll in late, or disappear entirely, then you can check in with them and/or their dean to make sure everything’s okay. This can help you help students more effectively.